Amid the festivities and food of Thanksgiving, I try to do some spiritual thanksgiving through attending mass and personal reflection.
During mass, when we celebrate the Eucharist, we are offering our thanks to God for the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I attend mass on Thanksgiving Day remembering that Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. I pay special attention to the words of consecration: At the last supper, Jesus took bread and wine and gave thanks and shared them with his disciples. Jesus chose to give God thanks, knowing he was going to suffer and die, and he chose to spend the time with his disciples knowing they would not stand by him in his final hours. I am awestruck by Jesus’ spiritual strength and courage, and ask myself: Can I continue to hold an attitude of gratitude in my life when there is pain, adversity, and grief?
I find that question extremely difficult to answer every day. Here’s a personal example. Three months ago, I moved into an unoccupied house with another Sister of Charity. We quickly discovered that raccoons had squirmed through small holes in the roof and were now frolicking in the attic. Then, with the arrival of Fall and colder temperatures, we discovered that the furnace wasn’t working. All those problems take time and money to solve, and I cannot say that every day I was able to keep an attitude of gratitude. However, we chose to stay in the house because it’s in a part of town that we love, and it felt like home the first time we stepped into it. Now, with a new roof and furnace and no wildlife in the attic, the house is in much better shape.
And now, in the spirit of thanksgiving, I reflect with gratitude on the gifts associated with this time. I would like to share some of those gifts in the form of a litany. After attending Our Lady and St. Rose church for eight years, I have adopted saying out loud the following phrase, “Thank you, Jesus!” after receiving an unexpected gift from someone. So, as I mention the gifts, I will use “Thank you, Jesus!” after each gift.
- I am grateful for responsible landlords, who invest money to fix rental house problems. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for the gift of community resilience, working with my sister to fix the problems and not just leaving the house. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for A Nun’s Life during this time, which uplifted my spirit. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for you, our friends, seekers, and listeners. Your questions and comments during Praying with the Sisters, on the website, and on social media inspire me and give me good feedback. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for you, A Nun’s Life board members, past staff, and Max and Kelly who welcomed me into such a creative and caring community. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for you, our donors, and sponsors who gave support during 2021 so that the ministry continues to create content that is relevant. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for you, the GHR and Hilton foundations, and our many collaborators and consultants for your support and partnerships as we move forward into the future with new initiatives. “Thank you, Jesus!”
- I am grateful for playing a part in helping A Nun’s Life move forward, embracing the humanizing values of the gospel through the worldwide relationships of Catholic sisters and YOU! “Thank you, Jesus!”
During this Thanksgiving time, ask yourself, What are you most grateful for? And then, in your own way, remember to give thanks to God for what you have received.