If you have been noticing a few more articles these past few months by theologian and writer, Ronald Rolheiser, then you can “blame” me. Well, not really. I have come to enjoy Rolheiser’s insights and I think his articles are really poignant and at times very profound. He is as delightful in person as he is in his writing style. I hope you enjoy the article printed on the next page. His reflections on gratitude and giving are especially appropriate as we head into this week of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Finding, first, that space of gratitude within ourselves is the only way we will figure out how and when to act in this world. Actions that lead to justice and charity only happen naturally for us because our internal space knows gratitude. No matter what the circumstances we face, despite our greatest challenges, there is a connection to God that brings forth a true sense of peace and acknowledges that we are the recipients of grace and blessing.
What I like about Thanksgiving is what this unique time of the year calls us to: gratitude. Most people I talk to seem to appreciate this holiday over Christmas in large part, because of the cultural, commercial chaos that has become associated with Christmas. But sometimes even Thanksgiving focuses too much on the turkey and the trimmings, leaving this to strictly a culinary exercise. Rolheiser’s article reminds me that gratitude does not just happen because of a piece of cooked poultry, but more importantly it is about finding that internal space which might actually lead me and all of us to a better world. Not everyone who reads this article or comes to Old St. Pat’s this week will be with family or sitting at a table. Some of us might find ourselves alone, mourning this as the “first” holiday without someone, working, or not able to be with family. For some, family may not be a reality. But Thanksgiving is important. Beyond a big fancy meal, Thanksgiving calls us to be aware of this God of ours whose only desire is to nourish and sustain us.
Personally, I am particularly mindful of how grateful I am for
all of you and this experience of creating and building church at Old St. Patrick’s. Your generosity, kindness, and great spirit make it so easy for me to be a priest here. When I think of how far some of you travel and the sacrifices you make because the only thing you want is just a life-giving experience of church and a place to nourish your life of faith, I am profoundly humbled. I feel a deep gratitude for the people of Old St. Pat’s, our Outreach Partners who associate themselves and their good work with us, and the faculty and students of Frances Xavier Warde School.
We see a lot of tough things happening in the world today. From illness to violence to sheer chaos, we face the darkness. For many, this Thanksgiving may seem like an insult to their woundedness. But may our deepest prayer be that God helps us become mindful of who we are, who we are called to be, and what we are capable of bringing to the “table” of the world.
Fr. Tom Hurley