A few days ago I walked into a local store and suddenly my ears heard a familiar tune over the store speakers…. Christmas music! I looked around the stores and was immediately struck by the fact that all of the Halloween decorations from yesterday (because I was literally there the day before) had been removed overnight. Plastic jack o’lanterns and bags of mini-Snickers bars had been replaced with red felt Santa hats, brightly-lit Christmas trees, and all that you needed to “deck the halls” of your home or apartment before the leaves had fallen off the trees in Central Park.
But wait a second – what happened to Thanksgiving, that day when we are called to pause, reflect, and offer gratitude for all that we have?
The American Thanksgiving holiday began in the early days of the American colonies as a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest. It originated from a mix of European and Native American traditions and since then Thanksgiving has assumed an added significance as a day during which all Americans, regardless of background, usually celebrate in the same way, with warm gatherings that include family and friends, food and football.
In all the excitement (or chaos), fun, and festivities of the day, I invite you to pause and to take a deeper look at what gratitude represents as we are taught by St. Ignatius, whom we know as the co-founder of the Society of Jesus. For Ignatius, gratitude is not something that we practice for just one day. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he teaches that gratitude underpins life, ought to be expressed daily, and always points back to God. Ignatius encourages his followers to live life with an “attitude of gratitude.” Everything we have, every gift and talent, is from God and is created for us.
The 14th century German philosopher and Dominican mystic, Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, that will suffice.” During this season, let us offer a robust and heartfelt “Thank you”, but as Ignatius taught us let’s not limit that to one day but let’s say “thank you” every day throughout the holiday season and going forward. As we offer our thanks, let us remember our abundant blessings, and pray that we be opened up to showing a generosity of spirit towards others, to “give and not to count the cost,” as we say in St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity. Let us pause together as a community this Thanksgiving to give thanks.
And, indeed, we have so much to be thankful for!
- Students who with their curiosity, desire for learning, and creativity enliven the school and form the heart of the Loyola community.
- A dedicated faculty, administration, and staff whose priority is to establish a trusting and caring connection with their students as partners in their learning experience.
- Loving parents and guardians who sacrifice much to send their sons and daughters to Loyola.
- All of our benefactors, who in their gifts of time, talent, and treasure help us to do all the good things we do here and all who have gone before them on whose shoulders we stand.
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I give thanks for the Loyola community and offer you and your loved ones many blessings and warm wishes.