Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
This year with the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas being so short, with the Thanksgiving holiday and the First Sunday of Advent on the same weekend, it almost seems like we are invited to begin the new Year of Grace 2014 with an action of thanks. The word “thanksgiving,” when translated into Spanish becomes, literally, “accion de gracias,” action of thanks. We often consider our thankfulness at this time of year for all that we have been given, but might sometimes not include the second part of the word that might become more obvious if we put a space in the middle. Thanks Giving. It is an active word, an action in which we might participate fully.
If you were to go to your spiritual director he or she might suggest this as a meditation for the new year: consciously add to the familiar exercise of Thanks an active consideration of what your Giving might look like and how you might carry that out in the season of Advent. Consider one meditation each week:
I consider all those who have cared for me: parents, family, friends. Maybe teachers, colleagues, religious or clergy. Those who taught me how to care. Heavenly Father I am thankful for them. Now help me to consider who in my life depends on me for care. Am I a caring person? I will find one person each day and reach out to them in a loving, perhaps unexpected, way. May my caring remind them of God, whose fullness of care we will see at Christmas.
I consider all those who have assisted me in times of need. Even all those whose assistance was not known by me personally, those who give anonymously to the greater good from whom I have found hope. Heavenly Father I am thankful for them. Now help me to consider who in my life might need my help. Am I able? Even if they may not learn of my involvement in their life? I will find one person each day and reach out to them at their moment of need, maybe a moment of doubt or weakness, a time when the road seems too long or the burden too heavy. May my help remind them of God, whose unsolicited concern we will see at Christmas.
I consider all those who have been patient with me (only God knows how often!) and have forgiven me when I have offended. Heavenly Father I am thankful for them. Now help me to consider those in my life who may be challenging who still need my attention; who seek my forgiveness. Am I a patient, forgiving person? Am I willing to bear others’ wrongs patiently? I will find one person each day who I haven’t contacted in a while and find the strength to make amends where necessary. May my heart remind them of God’s desire for reconciliation with us which we will see at Christmas.
One of the hardest tasks for our culture today is learning not to be selfish, to place others first. I consider all those who have sacrificed their security, their comfort, their safety for me. Heavenly Father I am thankful for them. Now help me to consider who in my life might need my selflessness. Am I able? Teach me the way of self-emptying love. I will find one person each day and figure some way to give of myself. May my sacrifice help remind them of God’s self-emptying love which is the meaning of Christmas.
Now there’s a plan. God bless you.