I want to follow-up on my blog from last week just to clarify my definition of Gratitude and the “art” of appreciation. Our defense mechanism tends to think the Church views Gratitude in terms of the weekly collection or annual appeals for diocesan needs. I will say, honestly, that it can feel that way. The “needs just keep coming”, just as the needs of our lives are never-ending. My point though, for this blog, is not about money…not even abstractly. The place I want to explore is the Joy of the Lord and the portal we use to experience it. The pure JOY we are created for and with. Some comments I received last week reflected a feeling that I was hinting at a greater level of “appreciation” in the weekly collection. Note: I am still getting used to the awareness that many now see me as part of the “institutional” Church and not the guitar-playing writer I long to be. But this was good because this engagement helped me see through the eyes of others which is an invaluable gift. This is exactly how I wanted our collaboration to work. I want us to “mine” our faith, always looking deeper. Our faith lives tend to find a route through life that makes sense to us. One of the many profound blessings our two thousand year old “family” story offers us is the depth of experience and understanding the Magisterium holds and safeguards for us. The level we want to access, the depth of our relationship with GOD, is completely our decision to make. So this is my approach to understanding Faith and the purpose to which I am called.

The dictionary defines gratitude as “a quality of being thankful; a readiness to show an appreciation for and a desire to return a certain kindness”.  Several sources all use the words thankful, grateful, appreciation and… they all include a desire to return a certain kindness. In other words, true Gratitude finds expression outside our private and personal thoughts. The Catechism (2062) states “Moral existence is a response to the Lord’s loving initiative”. In other words, for HIS sacrifice for our sins… for our moral lives. This is how we express gratitude, by living lives as holy as we can. Holy as in Loving the Lord our GOD with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength… and our neighbor as ourselves. If the lives of the saints show us anything, everyone is capable of overcoming circumstances in our life and to be a people of gratitude.

As we approach the beautiful and joyful Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, lets remember whose birthday we celebrate. Our modern Christmas traditions most often show us celebrating like it’s our birthday. Let’s come to HIM bearing the gift of our lives, given for the divine purpose we were created for.

A Very Merry, A Very Peace-filled Christ’s Mass Day to ALL, Deacon Mike

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