Dear Companions on the Journey,
There’s a story told of an elderly pastor who had come to the end of his days. In a letter to a friend, he “marveled at the goodness of the Lord to him – a fruitful ministry into his eighties, a wonderful marriage for more than 60 years, a loving family, and a host of friends, many of whom became believers through his witness. Looking back over his life, he said, ‘I don’t know if I am finishing well, but I am finishing thankful.’ I [the friend] told him I believe that anyone who finishes life thankful, finishes well.”
This coming week, we celebrate our national observance of Thanksgiving. I hope a large number of us can gather around the table of the Lord for Eucharist this Wednesday evening, 7pm, to say “thank you” as a community. For the Greek word eucharistia means “thanksgiving.” So every Mass, every Eucharist, is a Thanksgiving meal. (Our two Holy Places – the Chapel and the Auditorium – will be used on Wednesday, for downstairs our Wednesday Night Supper Club welcomes our neighbors, and upstairs we have another eucharistia.)
This past weekend, I was talking with our children who are preparing for their first Confession, their First Sacrament of Reconciliation. I sought to impress on them the importance of saying (not just thinking), “I’m sorry.” Not the fake apology that says something like “I’m sorry you feel bad about something I did.” Rather a real apology that says, “I’m sorry for the bad thing I did.” Because if you don’t say you’re sorry, you’re not sorry.
Similarly, as Robert Brault wisely observes, “There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” A bit harsh? You be the judge. But one “take away” from our national day of saying thanks in our huge national echo chamber is to say it out loud.
So think of someone for whom you are grateful. Say it out loud: “I am grateful to you for [must be explicit, more than ‘I am grateful for you’].”
And say it to our gracious God…I am grateful for [be explicit, concrete].
Or as Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.”
I’ll tell you one thing: I am so grateful for our Paulist Center Community.
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center