2020-11-26 GENERAL HOUSE

“Give thanks to the LORD, who is good; whose love endures forever!”

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. For many countries and peoples, it began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. As I approach this feast, I thought it would be a good time to look back over the past months with gratitude, even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, and in reflecting on all that has been and to look ahead with a joyful heart to all that will be. 

The Psalmist had it right; it is good for us to give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings he has bestowed on us as individuals and as an Institute.  Many days, as part of my Morning Prayer and reflection, I try to hold what I call a 5-minute gratitude session.  I close my eyes and think about who and what I am grateful for.

I don’t have this gratitude session every day, but on the days that I do, I find that I am happier, less harried, and more positive.  Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I am grateful for make such a big difference in my life? 

Just a few reasons:

  • Because it reminds me of the positive things in my life;
  • Because it reminds me of who and what is important in my life;
  • Because it reminds me to thank God and to thank others;
  • Because it reminds me that I am not alone.

What do I give thanks for, privately, in my little gratitude session? It varies, but in reflecting over these past months, there is much I am grateful for:

  • My families and friends
  • My community
  • My vocation as a Brother
  • The many health care workers (nurses, doctors, volunteers, etc.) assisting those stricken with CoVid-19
  • The generosity of so many Brothers and fellow Marists
  • Our educational ministries…the wonderful evangelization efforts that occur, day in and day out in these institutions
  • Those who serve on our various commissions, committees, and Boards
  • Our Marist colleagues who nurture our Marist charism
  • The steps we take to safeguard children
  • Our youngest members’ renewal of vows
  • Our vocation efforts and the young men who are interested in exploring God’s call to them.
  • The stewardship of our finances
  • Our solidarity efforts, via the Secretariat for Solidarity and FMSI
  • Our senior brothers on whose shoulders we stand
  • Those who minister to our senior men throughout the Institute…our Brothers, our aides, our doctors, our nurses
  • The “little virtues” we show each other in community/at home daily

Henri Nouwen said it well when he recognized that “Everything is freely given by the God of love. All is grace. Light and water, shelter and food, work and free time, children, parents, grandparents, life and death— it is all given to us. Why? So that we can say thanks; thanks to God, thanks to each other, thanks to all and everyone.” 

So what is our call during these pre-Advent days?  Maybe it’s the call to take some time and reflect on all that we can be grateful for.  I believe that learning how to experience gratitude involves being grateful as an attitude, not as a reaction when good things occur. Any one of us does not need to wait until things are perfect before being grateful; in fact, it may be just the opposite. It could be that the act of being grateful, in itself, makes us receptive to life’s blessings, and these blessings continue as we continue to be thankful.

Marcellin knew that all he and his “Little Brothers of Mary” had come from God and Mary, his Ordinary Resource.  His gratitude for being loved by God was very real.  He often told his Brothers that “God has loved us from all eternity; he chose us and drew us out of the world. The Blessed Virgin has planted us in her garden, and she sees to it that we lack for nothing.”

Thank you, for all that you do for our Marist mission, our Marist community, and our way of following Jesus.  Be assured of my gratitude as I leave you with the following prayer of thanksgiving:

Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow, and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health, and for grace. May we live this and everyday conscious of all that has been given to us (from the Catholic Prayer Book)

Brother Ben Consigli, FMS – Councillor General


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