Thanksgiving/Gratitude as a Way of Life
As a nation, we just celebrated the great national Feast Day of Thanksgiving, in which we call to mind God's many blessings. It is indeed "right and just" for us to give God thanks and praise, since all we have ultimately comes from him.
As we begin this Holy Season of Advent, I want to invite all of us to call to mind God's many gifts to us, and to encourage us to reflect on how we have used the gifts God has given us. How, in other words, have we used the time, talent, and treasure we have been given. As we begin this New (Liturgical) Year, may each and every one of us live lives of gratitude, and make a response of generosity in light of all that God has given us.
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), and the Lord’s call is always to greater generosity. Last year, Fr. Steve preached a series on generosity, which was helpful in underscoring the importance of being intentional about our giving concerning the use of our time, talent, and treasure. If you took the Challenge last year, let me encourage you to prayerfully consider doing the same thing this year. If you didn't take the Challenge last year, please prayerfully consider whether God might be inviting you (and your family) to step out in faith this year.
Again this year, we are making available Matthew Kelly's Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic for those who haven't had a chance to read it. Matthew Kelly encourages us all to be priority givers (making giving a priority), planned givers (intentionally doing so on a regular basis), and percentage givers (i.e., giving a percentage of our income rather than an arbitrary dollar amount). Matthew Kelly describes the “Generosity Challenge” in his book, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, as follows:
So, this is my challenge to you. I call it the Generosity Challenge. Take some time over the next week or two and calculate what you gave to your church, charities, and people in need last year as a percentage of your annual income. Once you have that number, I challenge you to give one percent more of your income this year than you did last year. Furthermore, I challenge you to increase this giving percentage by one percent of your income each year until you reach a tithe of 10 percent (or until it simply is not possible or prudent for you to give any more). Goals bring out the best in us. We have goals for everything else; isn’t it time we had some generosity goals? You will be amazed how this proactive approach to giving changes you. Now rather than waiting until you are asked to give you will be looking for opportunities to give. Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, by Matthew Kelly (Beacon Publishing, p. 135.)
Last year, over one hundred parishioners took the challenge, and committed to giving close to $100,000 more than you had given the prior year. God sees in secret, and blesses those who honor Him by giving to God first and trusting God to bless them for their commitment. At the end of the day, we can't out-give God. Please pray and, if you would, perhaps even fast, asking God to bless and increase our ministry efforts this coming year. May God bless you all!
During the summer, Fr. Steve preached about the importance of reading scriptures every day. For those who would like a bit of help in taking a bit of time each day, he developed a simple "30 Day Bible Challenge" with the Letter of St. James. Since then, he also developed one for 1 Thessalonians. Click the links below for more information about how the challenges work.