Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish all of my readers a blessed New Year.

I am grateful for so many things that I cannot possibly list them all. I can tell you this much:

I am thankful for a good job at a time when so many people are struggling to find one. It is easy to take a job for granted, to complain about the little nuances in our professions and inconveniences, but those things don't compare to the unemployment line.

Gratefulness for my job leads to something else for which I am thankful: A roof over my head. I know many people who are either struggling to keep their homes during these rough ecomonic times in Michigan, or in the midst of losing them. There is a temptation to feel guilty for what I have, but that would be a sign of ungratefulness.

However, my gratefulness has led me to question everything I have and buy. Grotto has a way of making you rethink the expensive designer clothes and brand name items. It is what I love about my parish that I never experienced in "St. Suburbia" where I grew up: There is a mix of people from every financial strata, from very well to do (and down to earth), to very poor and even homeless or barely making it. I have no doubt that while the latter suffer a great deal in life, the Lord uses them as instruments to teach the rest of us how to reject materialism, and how to deal with poverty in a humble, yet dignified manner. Our Lord never asked us to be physically poor, but poor in spirit. While a poor person has no choice but to live in poverty, it is reasonbly well-off (middle and upper class) person's choice to live in humble poverty of spirit. We will all be judged for this.

While I can put on a spread of 3 kinds of meat for my family for a big occassion, can I do with 2, and give that money to another family to have even 1 meat?

Everything from subscriptions to things like cable television have been things considered for the chopping block, but for now I keep the latter because the high speed internet package I use is rolled up into it, and I am still learning a great deal from EWTN which I leave on as I do my bills, my laundry, cooking and other things. Someday, I see my television falling silent, but for now, I'll be grateful for these things which God enables me to have at this time and use them to the benefit of others through this blog and other works.

While my mother is quite sick and in a new nursing home, I am grateful for the insurance which enables her to be there. The nursing home accepts medicare and medicaid, and for that too, I am grateful. I thank God for those cheerful aids and nurses who work long shifts to stimulate the minds of their patients, and to give them a sense of purpose and hope. I am also thankful for the families I have met as they visited their loved ones, for the lesson's they have taught me about love. Regardless of how sad, I am thankful to have witnessed the deep pain of patients in nursing homes and senior centers due to abandonment by their families. I can now be an advocate and beg people to visit their loved ones, and others in these places.

I am thankful to have learned that dementia patients need someone to come and love them, and I have witnessed some families who come religiously no matter how much they are not recognized. While the mind may be gone, I found it amazing that an alzheimer's patient, sitting dazed in the hallway in her wheelchair, could be so excited with a holy card of the Immaculate Heart of Mary I provided to her upon seeing the Rosary around her neck. She remembered she was Catholic and when she saw the card which alternated between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, her eyes opened wide, she gasped and with so much love said, "Ooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it's Maaarrrrryyyy!". She then clutched it tightly to her heart. I know she probably forgot she even had it a few moments or hours later, but I was grateful to have had this holy card, and the God-given grace to act upon, which made this soul so very happy even if only briefly.

I am thankful for full use of my limbs, for access to medicine to control my high blood pressure, and for the ability to test my sugar which now needs to be controlled. There are so many people who must choose bewteen making a house payment or buying their heart pills that it would only be ungrateful, to not be grateful for these things.

I am also most thankful for Assumption Grotto and all she offers. The priests and sisters who work through her have done wonders for my soul and I look forward to many more lessons in the coming year. How many people long for a Traditional Latin Mass, but have no access? How many long for a reverent Novus Ordo, abuse free, and more conducive to contemplative worship, but must tolerate a busy, noise-filled Mass? How many in other countries and distant lands must risk their very life to get to Mass? I look at Russia, and how God has been purged from society and I am thankful for the brave priests who work tirelessly to bring God back to them. I am grateful for the persistence of Chinese Catholics and other persecuted Christians who risk everything by sneaking to Mass.

I am grateful for seminarians and for others pursuing consecrated life. Without them, what would our future hold?

Please pray for our priests this year, and for all of those in seminaries and religious communities following God's call for what I believe will be one of the greatest, authentic renewals in the history of the Church. It will take decades, but I am very hopeful that some day rectories will be packed because parishes will be packed. Habited nuns will not find it beneath them to teach as solid Catholic schools and universities emerge, which teach the true faith.

I have much more I can be thankful for, but would like to end by saying I am grateful to all of those organizations working so hard to bring the faith to us through media and the arts. See a list in my sidebar for networks, news outlets, and drama resources. This is all part of God's grand plan to bring back authentic, unambiguous Catholicism to the masses.

Deo Gratias! Deo Gratias! Deo Gratias!

Te Deum Laudamus! Home