Monday, August 26, 2019

Sept. 1, 2019 Gratitude and Humility

September 1, 2019  Gratitude and Humility
Background photo by: Carl Attard 
Reading I:  Sirach 3:17-18, 28-29


Reading II: Hebrews 12: 18-19, 22-24a

Luke 14:1, 7-14

When I first went to teach at Xavier University in New Orleans, a historically Black, Catholic University, founded by St. Katharine Drexel, Sr. Ivan took me to visit the rural areas from which some of the students came. I shall never forget my visit to Church Point, Louisiana.

Sister brought me to visit an elderly couple who lived in a small, modest house. I was so impressed with the joyous, grateful expressions of the couple as they praised and thanked God. It helped me understand better the beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Later on, I became a volunteer in the campus ministry program, and I participated in a student retreat. To my surprise during shared prayer, I heard students thanking God for waking them up in the morning. Not being a morning person, I had never even thought of thanking God for waking me up in the morning. Sometimes, students can teach their instructors.

There is a saying that our pride dies 10 minutes after we do. We humans beings tend to struggle with pride. If we work on becoming humble, there is the possibility that we will become “proud of being humble.” Then, what is the solution?

It is important that we look up to God and realize that all we are and have, are gifts from Him. Also, our brothers and sisters have gifts from God which we need to acknowledge and value. It is crucial that we take time to thank the Lord. If we do not do this, we can begin to attribute our success or goodness to ourselves.

The word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving.” “Eucharist” is another name for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we participate at Mass, we are thanking God for all his gifts and for the Lord's offering himself for our redemption. Sometimes we forget this. We hear people say they don’t get anything out of Mass, especially if the priest is not a good preacher. We go to Mass to give honor and worship to God and receive his strength to live holy lives. Whether the sermon is good or not, our participation is our gift back to God.

We can also thank God on a regular basis in our everyday circumstances. Some people have a Thank You Journal in which they record a comment about someone or something for which they are grateful each day. They try to write something different each day.

What is written in the journal usually begins with family, friends or other common things for which they are grateful. Gradually, the gratitude can become for the little things like seeing a beautiful sunrise or sunset, hearing a meaningful song, feeling a cool breeze on a hot day, tasting a delicious piece of fruit or smelling a lovely flower.

The practice of being grateful not only helps us develop humility, but it also increases our happiness. With a positive, grateful attitude, we can better navigate the up’s and down’s in our own lives. In addition, we can better help our brothers and sisters in their circumstances.

 Reflection Question:   How can I develop an attitude of gratitude?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Gratitud y Humildad

Cuando fui a enseñar por primera vez a la Universidad Xavier en Nueva Orleans, una universidad católica históricamente negra, Sr. Ivan me llevó a visitar las áreas rurales de donde vinieron algunos de los estudiantes. Nunca olvidaré mi visita a Punto de la iglesia, Louisiana.
La hermana me llevó a visitar a una pareja de ancianos que vivía en una casa pequeña y modesta. Estaba tan impresionado con las expresiones alegres y agradecidas de la pareja mientras alababan y agradecían a Dios. Me ayudó a entender mejor la bienaventuranza Bienaventurados los pobres en espíritu”.

Más tarde, me hice voluntario en el programa de ministerio del campus y participé en un retiro estudiantil. Para mi sorpresa durante la oración compartida, escuché estudiantes agradeciendo a Dios por despertarlos en la mañana. Al no ser una persona madrugadora, nunca había pensado en agradecer a Dios por despertarme por la mañana. A veces, los estudiantes pueden enseñar a sus instructores.

There is a saying that our pride dies 10 minutes after we do. Los seres humanos tendemos a luchar con orgullo. Si trabajamos para volvernos humildes, existe la posibilidad de que nos volvamos orgullosos de ser humildes”. Entonces, ¿cuál es la solución?

Es importante que admiremos a Dios y nos demos cuenta de que todo lo que somos y tenemos, son dones de Él. Además, nuestros hermanos y hermanas tienen dones de Dios que debemos reconocer y valorar. Es crucial que tomemos tiempo para agradecerle al Señor. Si no hacemos esto, podemos comenzar a atribuir nuestro éxito o bondad a nosotros mismos.

La palabra Eucaristía significa Acción de gracias”. “Eucaristía” es otro nombre para el Santo Sacrificio de la Misa. Cuando participamos en la misa, estamos agradeciendo a Dios por todos sus dones y por el ofrecimiento del Señor por nuestra redención. A veces olvidamos esto. Escuchamos a personas decir que no obtienen nada de la misa, especialmente si el sacerdote no es un buen predicador. Vamos a misa para honrar y adorar a Dios y recibir su fuerza para vivir vidas santas. Si el sermón es bueno o no, nuestra participación es nuestro regalo de regreso a Dios.

También podemos agradecer a Dios regularmente en nuestras circunstancias cotidianas. Algunas personas tienen un diario de agradecimiento en el que registran un comentario sobre alguien o algo por lo que están agradecidos cada día. Intentan escribir algo diferente cada día.

Lo que está escrito en el diario generalmente comienza con familiares, amigos u otras cosas comunes por las que están agradecidos. Gradualmente, la gratitud puede convertirse en pequeñas cosas como ver un hermoso amanecer o atardecer, escuchar una canción significativa, sentir una brisa fresca en un día caluroso, probar una deliciosa fruta u oler una flor encantadora.

La práctica de ser agradecidos no solo nos ayuda a desarrollar la humildad, sino que también aumenta nuestra felicidad. Con una actitud positiva y agradecida, podemos navegar mejor los altibajos en nuestras propias vidas. Además, podemos ayudar mejor a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en sus circunstancias.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:    ¿Cómo puedo desarrollar una actitud de gratitud?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
If we are honest with ourselves, we know that all we have or enjoy is a gift from God. How, then, can we not be grateful for seeing nature’s beauty or the face of a friend? Even if we are having a “bad day,” there is usually something for which we can be grateful – a reassuring smile or a prayer from a friend. You may have heard the phrase, “glass half-full or glass half-empty.” If we can take a moment, we can visualize the glass as half-full of the day’s events and half-full of God’s loving, merciful presence.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
The foundation of my attitude of gratitude is based on reminding myself that God is ‘All in All’. It has been a maturation of faith process for me. I considered myself a grateful person – I would thank God for all those wonderful things in life: my children, my friends, morning coffee, the sunshine and flowers, my pet, my job, all those people and things that brought me security, comfort and joy. Then one day, I read an article about being grateful for the unpleasant moments, the difficult people in life, the failures and challenges. This perspective was a real game-changer for me. I never appreciated how sweating the hard stuff could lead to such spiritual growth. Once I was introduced to that principle, I started looking for validation of the truth it held. Henry Nouwen wrote, “As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for.” He went on to state that when we look back at everything that has brought us to where we are now we will see in it the “guiding hand of a loving God.”
I can honestly say that it has been the challenges that had me kicking and screaming that have contributed to my current level of spirituality. And this is the life-changer – that gratitude is, as Nouwen writes, “a discipline that involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint...The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort.”
I have experienced firsthand the movement of grace when we open ourselves to cooperation with God in challenging circumstances. Assuming the role of caregiver for my mother has been the most difficult life task to date for me. Our mother-daughter relationship since early on has been marked with boundaries, distancing and tensions. It has been 23 years and counting that she has depended on me for graduating levels of support and I have prayed my way through all these years – every visit, conversation and task. I was riddled with resentment and guilt and was never at peace. I prayed to be able to forgive so I could let go of the past and return to love. Today, I find myself giving thanks for healing and transformation. I am truly grateful at where I have arrived. I’m happy for mom’s plans to move to a new community and I’m enjoying getting her set up in her new apartment. It took 23 years of discipline to break through layers of perceived judgments. I am grateful for all those purifying obstacles along the journey.
I have tweaked my Morning Offering to thank God in advance for the graces and blessings my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of the day will bring. I’ve learned from experience that if I express gratitude every day, I will be amazed by the outcome.

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