Monthly Archives: November 2015

An Attitude of Gratitude

There has been a lot written about gratitude. In the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, the author challenged herself to write down 1,000 things for which she was thankful. When she finished that list, she just kept going.

Allen Hunt, a fantastic speaker and author of Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor, has a great practice of making a yearly list of 26 things he is grateful for – one for each letter of the alphabet. He said in one of his blogs, “Gratitude can be hard to come by in a selfish world. That’s why Thanksgiving is so important. Because gratitude feeds your soul and produces joy and peace. Think about it: Thanksgiving doesn’t ask for much. Just a day to calm down and get real with yourself about what a rich, full life you have. You may not have all you want, but if you live in America, you are among the wealthiest people in the world regardless of your income. But the greatest blessings are rarely financial or material, are they? So each year I list 26 specific parts of my life for which I am grateful. I do it to prevent stinginess and selfishness from taking over my soul.” (11/5/12)

I recently found an “oldie but goodie” from a former MMPG board member which was sent to me before I was even a “Marist Mom.” I hope this helps you celebrate what can be a hectic day with a more joyful heart. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I pray that you have a wonderful day with your friends and family and feel the abundant blessings that God has showered on you today and every day.

How to Observe Thanksgiving

Count your blessings, instead of your crosses

Count your gains, instead of your losses

Count your joys, instead of your woes

Count your friends, instead of your foes

Count your smiles, instead of your fears

Count your courage, instead of your fears

Count your full years, instead of your lean

Count your kind deeds, instead of your mean

Count your health, instead of your wealth

Count on God, instead of yourself

 

 

A Thanksgiving Prayer – from the Magnifcat

Most merciful Father, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite.

On this Thanksgiving Day we come before you with gratitude for your kindness:

open our hearts to concern for others so that we may share your gifts of loving service with all your people.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Litany of Thanksgiving

Response: We thank you, O Lord.

This is a day to thank God for all his many blessings in our lives. With gratitude we now say:

For the love of God, for faith, family, and friends: R/

For joys, successes, achievements, and accomplishments: R/

For health, safety, work, and rest: R/

For struggles, sorrows, trials, and sufferings: R/

For our jobs, for those who support us, for our education, and for the chance to serve: R/

For our gifts, talents, and abilities, for honors, for strength and energy: R/

For our homes, for food, warmth, and shelter, for all the things that have made us happy: R/

For our hobbies and pets, for happy memories, for our favorite things, for leisure and relaxation: R/

For our nation, for freedom and peace, for teachers, leaders, and those who give us good example: R/

For the ability to say “I’m sorry,” for the grace of repentance, for the forgiveness of others, for the generosity of others: R/

For good advice, for financial security, for the trust others put in us, for tenderness, understanding, and compassion: R/

For kindness, goodness, joy, and laughter, for the times we have helped others or made them happy: R/

For all the wonders of creation, for beauty, music, sports, and art, for new opportunities and second chances: R

For failures and rejection, for all the ways we have grown up and become better people: R/

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

 

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All Is Grace

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Next week is Thanksgiving. So we should bear in mind that all we have is a gift.

There is nothing we have, nothing we keep, nothing we can hold, nothing we can make, nothing we utter, nothing we preserve that shall not fade to dust. No nation, no laws, no family, no home, no art, no music, no feast nor fame: there is nothing that shall not one day fade into history. We shall all be forgotten under stones within one hundred years, and our names, told as part of stories by those who have never seen our faces, perhaps as cautionary tales or humorous folklore. We have only the beginning until now, and we may not even have tomorrow here. So thanks is for today, for all that came before, and for all we know.

Just the same, we should be thankful. Thanking continually, for the gifts of breathing out and in, and for the smiles of all those who greet us every day. We should rejoice in all of this beauty, the gold of the fading leaves, the drama of the clouds. God has poured out everything and continues to rain down graces which we walk through, often as children, oblivious to everything.

So today, consider the great reality, that all is grace. All is grace. All is grace. The hard part of that truth is all the people and errands and hassles which surround us. We do not see the grace in the annoying sales person or the giant mess we discover under the bed, or in colds or headaches, high bills or difficult projects.

We do not welcome or relish the struggle to treat another as Christ that an annoying person provides us. We do not welcome the task to serve others in a big mess clean up, or the grace of loving through pain, afforded by illness, or the sanctification of suffering.

But knowing there is that reality, underlying and permeating everything and everyone, means we have that great commission.

We are to always and everywhere, give thanks, to be thankful for the opportunity that all of everything affords us, to go forth and live knowing that includes us, that we are part of that all is grace, if we but cooperate.

– Adapted from an article by Sherry Antonetti,  November 24, 2014, http://www.catholicmom.com.

 

Honesty as Policy

Honesty is such a good policy.

I have been really blessed the past few weeks to be among a great group of women taking a parenting class at Marist offered by the counseling department. I really love the spirit and humor of the group – the women have been very open and honest about the challenges they are facing with raising teenagers. I feel this same honesty and openness with the women who come on Friday morning to the MMPG prayer time in the chapel. It can be really hard to say out loud “this is what I need prayers for,” yet a safe, secure and supportive environment welcomes honesty. Earlier this school year I experienced this at a grade-level mother’s luncheon. I was sitting with a couple of friends – one whom I don’t see often – and expected the conversation to be surface-level and easy. Yet one of the ladies dove deep into the pool just as she sat down, and opened up about an issue she was facing with her family. It was something I too was facing with my family, and it made me feel less alone, less helpless. Maybe even a little hopeful.

If only we were more willing to be open with others, we might reap great benefits and receive great graces. However, it is often easier to say, “I’m fine!” and move on, rather than open up and say, “It’s been a really tough week.” I often worry that I’m going to be identified as the local Debbie Downer. You know the one – you are afraid to ask her to Starbucks, lest you leave with less energy even after the double espresso.

But then I am reminded that even Jesus had his moments of vulnerability. “How in the Garden of Gethsemane before his death, Jesus asked his friends to stay awake with him. God of very God, in the moment of his anguish, voiced the longing for companionship.” (Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart)

If we want to build community, if we want to escape loneliness, it means being authentic with each other. It means offering our honesty, our sincerity, our vulnerability. In order to develop those close friendships, we must be willing to offer more than our time. “Putting in the effort” is not enough. We have to put in the depth. We have to be willing to “be real” with people, to openly and honestly share about our lives, even the difficult and challenging parts. Jesus offers us his very being, his Body and Blood. Are we willing to bring that level of intimacy, vulnerability, and sacrifice to our relationships? (myprincessprayer.wordpress.com)

Heavenly Father, help me to be truly open and honest with others. Help me to slow down long enough so that others can be open and honest with me. Help me to have an open heart to actually hear what others have to say. Holy Spirit, guide my words and actions to speak my heart to others in response to their honesty, vulnerability and pain. Guide the Marist community of students, parents, teachers and staff to be supportive, and to show one another our true nature. Help us to show one another the face of Jesus. Help us to be the authentic women and men that you created us to be.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Running, and Running

The past few months at our house have been all about running. Both of my children run cross-country for Marist, so there has been a lot of running: running the daily carpools, running the kids to the bus by 5:30 on Saturday mornings, and running a lot of sweaty clothes through the washing machine. So when I came across this running analogy in this month’s Magnificat, I thought it was well-timed as the season is running down. (Bad pun intended.) I liked it because of the idea that we are truly all in this race together. We are all running toward the same finish line, and we want our entire team to succeed. We have to help one another reach the goal. And we can ask for help from those who are stronger than we are.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews suggests to us a familiar image. A throng of runners sets out, as on a marathon, or a 5K run. The finish line is eternal life. Jesus leads the pack.

But the analogy of the race breaks down at a certain point. For Christ is not only our leader in the race, but also our “perfecter,” the very source of our strength to run at all. And our fellow runners are not really contestants, for we are not competing for a single prize. Rather, we are all striving together. The other runners cheer us on; they encourage us. If we stumble, they will help us up. If our energy wanes, they will support us. Those who can run faster will blaze a trail for those of us who lag behind. Others will slow down to match our creeping pace.

This is a glorious picture. And, in the lives of the saints who were devoted to other saints, we see that it is true. The saints counted on the help of their brothers and sisters, and we can too. They received help. And we will, too. Let us ask daily for the intercession of the saints.