Expressions of Thanks in Very Anxious Times

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During the summer, I had an idea that was meant to be relevant to this week. I wanted to ask all sort of writers to express in a couple of hundred words just who they were thankful for the formation of their faith — not so much the famous people but the obscure ones, the people no one had ever heard of, perhaps long dead, whose names may not have been spoken in decades. It was an idea meant to demonstrate the power of one life influencing another and how all of that creates the “communion of faith” and the great “cloud of witnesses” — the unbroken string of men and women who by the testimony of their lives and the sharing of their understanding have brought us to today.

It was a nice idea, but sadly, my own schedule, forgetfulness and over-full plate prevented me from being able to pull it together. I think had Hurricane Sandy not happened and left me perpetually behind-schedule I might have pulled it off. I did manage, though to cajole Father Steve Grunow (of Father Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate) to share his thoughts on the question, which surprised him a little:

This is supposed to be a brief essay expressing gratitude for someone; it is meant as an act of thanksgiving for someone whose positive impact has seemingly gone without notice. That category would include all of us at some point. There are so many!

There really are so many! A few of our Patheos bloggers have managed to name names, even as I find myself needing to pray on it some more before I spill. Elizabeth Duffy goes for a swim in the deep end:

I was a member of Regnum Christi for a very long time. I joined in college. Later I was a co-worker, which is a lay position, in which an unmarried person can commit up to three years to working full time for the Movement. I met my husband through Regnum Christi. We were married by a Legionary Priest. Some of my closest female friends, I met through the Movement. After marriage and kids, I continued to participate, up until shortly after the allegations against Father Maciel were confirmed. And then I couldn’t participate any more.

In trying to understand duplicity and the darkness that led Father Maciel to commit grave sins, my sister-in-law made an excellent point:

“I think it might be easier to contemplate the reality that duplicity reigns in the hearts of most men. The difficulty is exposing it to light. Then you face the true question for contemplation: “Do I change or not? If not, what are the consequences?”

And then there are the depths with swirling whirlpools in them,
and what is striking to me on this Thanksgiving is how many people are writing from places of deep anxiety that they’re either keeping private or making public, and how their faith is like a steady centering pole. If the tent is collapsing for them, there is still one thing that is erect and keeping them from completely suffocating. Their witness is both thrilling and mysterious:

Joanne McPortland, for instance, takes the time to express exquisite thanks and then has this to share:

This year, a virtual table is all that I have to offer, because this Thanksgiving finds me virtually homeless. . .I am getting help, but I have never been a patient cooperator with grace, and lifelong resistance, secretiveness, and avoidance are terrible manacles to break. This week I am in the limbo of not knowing where I will land: friends have provided generous temporary housing, and I am waiting for word about whether I can get into semi-communal senior housing that will offer me more support in overcoming bad old patterns, but it’s all so up in the air.

Tom McDonald:

The more I see of the world, our country, our leaders, our politics, our businesses, our economy, and all the other messes we’ve made, the more I retreat to the pleasures of home and faith and community. When you turn away from the meaningless noise of the world, you find wisdom in the simple places.

Meanwhile Rebecca Hamilton brings the practicality, writing: The Only Life You Can Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner is the Messy One You’ve Got

Tony Rossi reminds us that Giving Thanks to God is Always in Season and to that end he shares a Thanksgiving Prayer

Lisa Hendey is saying no to Thanksgiving stress, and she is tweeting.

Something I am thankful for:
Max is writing again and this is a humdinger as is this Thanksgiving post

Let us be thankful that the Red Cross is not the only source for assistance in times of disaster. Read that infuriating post, and consider making a Thanksgiving gift to Catholic Charities, or Team Rubicon.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful to all of you who stop by here every day when there are so many other interesting sites out there! I pray we all have a peaceful Thanksgiving and that those who are alone or dealing with displacement can find good companions for the day.

And now…for a little Seque music!

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Peggy Coffey

    I had been hearing stories of the Red Cross being so inadequate and unorganized for victims of Sandy. I was hoping that they were just isolated incidents, but I guess not. I emailed the Red Cross and told them I would not be giving them one more dime until they got their priorities straight. I will also make sure everyone at our Thanksgiving knows what is happening. It really is a disgrace. A friend of mine asked if I had heard anything about what was going on in Newy York because it seems like there is a news blackout. If it had been a Republican president……….

  • ahem

    I’m thankful for meeting an anonymous Carmelite nun in a Mexican grocery store, who gave a a brown scapular in exchange for a small donation. Someone behind me in line, buying a couple of mangoes, showed me how to wear it. (I was an atheist at the time.) I can pinpoint my journey to the church from that moment.

    Two ideas that were mentioned above that will be major cultural trends in the future: 1) a return to the simple and meaningful—including Church and family—and 2) communal or semi-communal living arrangements, especially for single or widowed Boomers.

  • P Buchta

    I am Thankful that Obama has been elected for a second term as President of the United States.

  • Gayle Miller

    I am thankful for my family – who give me hope for a brighter day coming – and my parents who gave me good values and morals and the spine to return to those same values and morals after going astray, and for Elizabeth Scalia who reminds me frequently of what good people there are out there in this world and for God who has given me every good gift I possess including the beloved felines Buddy and Rusty who entertain, amuse and love me without reservation! If they aren’t a symbol of God’s love for me, I don’t know what is.

  • Nan

    I just read an article in the New York Times about Rikers Island helping, and focusing on the Rockaways as there are both inmates and employees from the area. They loaned out generators, did laundry for shelters, provided food, clothing and blankets, law enforcement employees volunteered where needed. It’s the first time they’ve helped with a disaster; not being from the area, I don’t know if it’s because there haven’t been opportunities or administration hasn’t thought of it. Then again, the scope of the disaster is probably greater.

    I’m thankful for Fr. Jenniges, the priest from my childhood. My family stopped going to church at some point when I was in 2nd grade, but I finished out the year in CCD for some reason. Knowing I had made my first Confession and was prepared for my First Communion, but wasn’t with my class to receive my First communion, he somehow strong-armed my mom into taking me to the church to receive my First Communion from him on a Saturday. It turns out that all you need for a First Communion is a priest and communion.

  • Jayne

    When Sandy hit, I asked my husband if he wanted to send a donation to the Red Cross. He told me in no uncertain terms that we were NOT supporting Red Cross, that they used these disasters as fundraisers and he had lost all respect for them and would not support them. We send a donation to Catholic Charities instead.

    Thanks for providing the link that fleshed out his objections a bit. I’m appalled.

    And Happy Thanksgiving to you, Elizabeth! One of the things I’m thankful for is your thoughtful insight into the events of our times. God bless you!