Gratitude highlights the richness of our lives

Categories: From the Director

Holidays encourage us to celebrate all that we are thankful for

Each year draws to a close in high stewardship style. The Thanksgiving holiday encourages us to look beyond our difficulties and shortfalls and celebrate all that we are grateful for. Many of us honor the spirit of gratitude through sacrificial giving of our time, talent and treasure.

Advent follows, veiling us in the mystery of our Catholic faith, as we — and millions of our sisters and brothers throughout the world — pray in anticipation for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, grateful for the joy ahead.

Jesus is with us on Christmas Day — He is here! Once again we are moved by gratitude to forgive our enemies, feed the hungry, clothe the
naked, minister to those in prison, comfort the poor and lonely and increase our faith. As stewards and disciples of Christ, we are set ablaze in the world by all that we are thankful for. Here is a small sample of things that I am thankful for as 2014 nears its end.

Problems. My wife, Mary Beth, and I have lots of them, and they come in all sizes and intensities, from a broken dryer and a washing machine on its last legs, to a kid going through an extremely tough period. Problems are a consistent condition in our lives, and I used to curse them. But I’ve learned that difficulties shine a spotlight on ourfriends, family members and even strangers who, through the grace of
God and urging of the Holy Spirit,assist us. I can’t express an act of loveany better than watching my friend and neighbor remove snow from
our driveway because I’m recoveringfrom foot surgery. Problems remindus of God’s mercy. Big problems drive us to the foot of Jesus’ cross.

Memories. Mary Beth has beencooking and baking for the holidays. She told me recently that she could sense my mom’s presence in our kitchen. It warmed her heart, even as it created a sense of sorrow and longing within her. Mom was very proud of her cooking (deservedly so), and she passed a great deal of her skills to Mary Beth.

I often think of my Grandma and Grandpa Bratt. They were definitely characters. Grandpa was serious, a teetotaler and quite opinionated. He did not value idle time, seeking instead something to fix, tear apart, clean or maintain. He taught me a lot about work and priorities.

Grandma, on the other hand, was almost childlike. She loved to play cards, but cheated as often as possible, because she also loved winning.

She was thrilled to pull her grandkids’ baby teeth. Grandma and Grandpa had 27 grandchildren, so I assume she pulled 27 teeth. I know she got one of mine, but I didn’t go near her with a loose tooth again, and I can’t imagine my cousins being any less cautious. Mary Beth and I spent many hours with them over the years. I love them dearly to this day and will forever miss them.

Faith. It seems there is always a news story or magazine article about “the richest person in the world.” I understand it changes hands from time to time. Do you apply for the title? If so, I think I’d give it a whirl. Watch the sun rise slowly above the horizon, sprouting shoots of brilliant light that morph into colors almost impossible to describe. They fade, commingle, disappear and reappear at random. This short event has been going on since the beginning of time. It’s set to cease in infinity. I’m friends with the One who orchestrated it all along. And sunrise is just a tiny part of the whole show. You know that air that we’re breathing? Yeah, that too. How rich must I be to have a friend that loves me that much?

Good stewards, seek gratitude in everything, and recognize it every day. May God bless your Advent and Christmas this year.