Thursday, November 25, 2010

An American Tradition of Gratitude

How Good It is to Give Thanks to the Lord

The scent in our monastery this morning is redolent with that of roasting turkey, simmering  garlic and onions. These aromas replace the sweet smell of yesterday's apple pie and pumpkin baking.

Often we are asked how we celebrate holidays in our monastery. How do contemplative nuns, in the privacy of the enclosure mark the great feasts of the Chruch year and those held dear in our national culture? We certainly will not succumb to the enticements of Black Friday. Nor do we, as contemplative nuns, separate from the community on such days to reunite with family and friends in celebration. Rather, we reamin here in the monastery, within the community which we took as our permanent home and family when we first pronounced vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Today we will have our full horarium of the Liturgy of the Hours which began this morning with the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer especially constructed with the holiday occasion in mind - Psalms of thanksgiving, appropriate readings from Scripture and other sources, a joyful Te Deum (a hymn of praise and thnaksgiving). And for today, the Intercessory Prayer of the Morning Office was adapted from a traditional prayer of native Americans of the Iroquois Nation.

Let us off thanks for all the marvelous blessings we have received.

Response to each is: We thank you, Creator and Lord.

For our mother, the earth, which sustains us,
For rivers and streams, which supply us with water,
For all the herbs which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases,
For corn, and her sisters, the beans and the squashes, which give us life,
For the wind which scatters our seed and the rain which waters our crops,
For the sun, that looks upon the earth with beneficent eye,
For the moon and the stars, which give us their light when the sun is gone,
For all manner of living things,
For the rich heritage of freedom bequeathed to us by the founders of our country,
For you, Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness,
and who directs all things for the good of the children of earth,

We thank you Creator and Lord.

There followed a variety of spontaneous petitions for our families, our nation, for the world, and for those who find this time particularly diffulcult: the poor and homeless, the unemployed and the under-employed, those separated from loving family, especially those deployed to far off places in our military.

Our Prioress shared a reading in which we were invited to pay attention to the real challenges in our nation and the world but not to lose sight of the good that has been ours - the peaceful passage from one set of elected officials to another in our recent elections; financial measures that kept us out of absolute financial meltdown, continuing negotions for peace on every front, among so many others.

The holiday decorations at the base of our chapel altar are arranged to emphasize our gratitude for the gift of the Eucharist, so faithfully provided for us daily by our Redemptorist brothers. Certainly, this is both the source and summit of our gratitude.

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