Giving Thanks

As we gather with family and friends around our Thanksgiving tables, we offer a reprise of this video by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB on the grace of gratitude.  Appropriate for any time during the year, it is especially fitting for this day of giving thanks.  May we cultivate the habit of being grateful for our blessings throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart! We are truly grateful for the love and support of our friends and benefactors over the past 125 years.


See more reflections by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB, at

Living with Gratitude—On Thanksgiving Day and Every Day

For some people, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday.  What makes it so appealing is the relative simplicity of the day: gathering around the table with family and friends to enjoy each other’s company and partake of a delicious meal.  For many, it’s a rare gathering of extended family, whose members sometimes travel long distances to come together with loved ones.  Without the frenzy of shopping and the seemingly non-stop entertaining that can accompany Christmas, Thanksgiving allows us to stop, to reflect, and to get in touch with who and what we are most grateful for.  The depth of gratitude that we experience can truly be remarkable, and perhaps we wonder why we don’t experience it more.

In the spirit of becoming aware of gratitude each day throughout the year, we present this video, “A Good Day,” narrated by Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast.    May it help us to make each day of our lives an opportunity to notice all the blessings in our lives, and to be grateful.

See more reflections by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB, at

Pomp and Circumstance – A Reflection on Graduations

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Last week I and other members of my high school graduation class of 1962 served as honorary marshals for this year’s graduation ceremony.   This was the first time I had returned to my high school, and it was quite a treat to reconnect with some of my former classmates, share memories of the past, and wish the Class of 2012 well.

The school auditorium seemed a lot smaller than I remember it, and the library is much more high tech, but the students seemed pretty much the same—all excited to be going off to college, hoping the current economic situation will turn around, having some misgivings about being on their own and wondering what the future holds for them.

Graduation is often called commencement—a beginning. When I think of beginning something new, I am also reminded of the necessity to let go of something in the past.  We cannot fully embrace the new unless we let go of what has been. Yes, the new has joys and blessings of its own, but these cannot be realized unless we let go of the past and live in the present.

Graduation is a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual journey. At each stage we rely on what we have learned in the past, but we are called to use that life experience in creative ways in the present.  We have all learned that we cannot relive the past, but we can rely on lessons we learned in the past to face new and challenging situations.

From a spiritual perspective, we can remember God-with-us in the past and know that God is with us now. We also know that what is happening in our lives now will offer us wisdom in the future.

Questions for reflection:

  • What are some things you have had to let go of in your life journey?
  • Who are some of the people that helped you negotiate major life transitions?
  • What is something you need to let go of now?
  • What memories do you cherish?
  • For what are you grateful?
  • What grace do you need from God to move forward now?

The Blessings Come Down

Thoughts on Thanksgiving by Carolyn Rodgers, Cook*

I remember the first Thanksgiving meal that I ever cooked.  My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, said that I should do the turkey because I was a cook.  I was working at Pappas Restaurant at the time; I was a short order cook and I had never prepared a main course.

I put the turkey in a very large pan filled with water—I thought I would boil it down. I thought that’s where the gravy would come from.  My fiancé looked at it and said he didn’t remember that his mother used so much water.  I didn’t say anything, but I was panicked. I didn’t want to ask any family member for advice, so I called my friend Margaret, who was a cook for the Mission Helpers.  After she finished laughing, she told me to get rid of the water, dry the turkey, salt and pepper it and put it in a pan with a tight lid.  She said it would make its own gravy.

It turned out beautifully and I’ve been roasting turkeys like that ever since—hundreds of turkeys.

And that’s how I’ll roast the turkey for the Mission Helpers’ Thanksgiving dinner.  I like everything that I cook for the Sisters, but Thanksgiving is special.  I prepare the turkey, potatoes and dressing the day before, and the Sisters prepare their special dishes.  Sister Dolores does a multi-layered gelatin salad and makes rolls; Sister Dolly makes a great cranberry mold, Sister Natalie prepares green beans with almonds…

I love Thanksgiving.  I love what I fix for the Sisters, and, on Thanksgiving Day, I love being with my family. For me, the day is all about family and friends.  Everyone comes together; all the food is fresh—nothing from cans on Thanksgiving Day.  And we laugh; there is lots of laughter.

There will be 17 or more people.  Before the meal, we form a circle, hold hands and thank God.  We each give God thanks for something—even the littlest children.  This takes a long time, but everyone gets to express their gratitude.

I believe that gratitude can take you a long, long way.  If you’re thankful to God, God will bless you, and the more thanks you give, the more God will be thankful for you.  When the praises go up, the blessings come down.  I really believe that.

Being together and being thankful is what it’s all about.   Everybody has something they can be thankful for—everybody.  Even if you live in a hut, you can say, “Thank you, God, for this space.”  On Thanksgiving, you thank the Lord for everything and everybody—that’s it.

*Carolyn Rodgers has been the cook for the Mission Helpers Community since 1984 and has never served the Sisters a boiled turkey.