Friday, June 8, 2012



In our society today, we are so caught up in our fast paced lifestyles, and “reality shows” that true reality is either ignored or missed. Relationships have been cheapened and even the word “friend” has come to mean any or all acquaintances. Life is lived too fast, and in the process we often take others for granted. 

The former Bishop of Evansville, Indiana, Gerald Gettelfinger (bishop from 1989-2011), in his last column for THE MESSAGE, the diocesan newspaper, recalled an earlier time when people would take the time to write letters and thank you notes (and physically mail them). He noted the rapidity and ease of e-mail, FaceBook, texting, twitter, and whatever else, but he wrote of the personal, almost sacramental, nature of the act of writing letters and receiving letters in the mail. He encouraged all of us to write letters.  (My parents also always made me write thank you notes). 

My own pastor, Fr. Henry Kuykendall , as long as I have known him, has always called upon us to have an “attitude of gratitude.” St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians wrote: “Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness.” (Col 3.15b) and “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

As I have gotten older and spent time one-on-one with the sick and suffering, and watched how quickly my own sons have grown older, I see what precious little time we really do have. So many of us can turn the television on and zone out and be entertained by banal humor, or just become so busy with life, running to and fro, for whatever reasons, while the people most important in our lives slip away from us.

Over the past year a former student and now a fellow teacher recommended the book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik, which is more of a personal memoir, but the author does show how gratitude changed his life.

St. Benedict, in the 73rd chapter of his Rule writes, and I paraphrase: “There is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting. This zeal, therefore, we should practice with the most fervent love. Thus we should anticipate one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10); most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or of character… [and] prefer nothing whatever to Christ that He may bring us all together to everlasting life!” 

In the gospel, Christ himself said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited meAmen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least ones of mine, you did for me.’ 

Many people are hungering for companionship, thirsting for love, estranged from community, stripped of dignity, alone in their illness and imprisonment. A letter may well be the kindest visitor of their day.

St. Paul also writes in his letter to the Philippians,If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness...; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.  Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.”

Finally, in the book of Psalms, we pray, "Go within his 

gates giving thanks…” (Ps. 100.4), so having a thankful 

heart and an attitude of gratitude is a prerequisite for 

entering into God’s presence. 

I am reminded of the line from the musical Les Miserables,

based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name: “To love

another person is to see the face of God.”  

If we spend all our days on the negative, we will dull 

our sense of gratitude. If we would practice thankfulness,

I believe we as a people would be happier, healthier, and, 

ultimately, holier.

May we continue to dedicate ourselves to thankfulness, 

devote ourselves to prayer, keeping alert with an attitude 

of gratitude and thanksgiving.

1 comment:

  1. John,
    Enjoyed. May we see His face in everyone we meet today. Make a great day!