With Thanksgiving approaching, we asked the friars what helps keep them grateful or maintain an attitude of gratitude. We hope you find their responses inspiring.
Dan Anderson, OFM:
This is hardly deeply spiritual or profound, but it is true. One of the things that keeps me focused on gratitude rather than grumbling is singing part of an Irving Berlin lyric in my head: “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.” By the way, I usually find that I sound a lot like Bing Crosby.
Henry Beck, OFM:
My spiritual director has been encouraging me to do a form of the Ignatian Examen where I write down the “consolations” I have experienced during the day as a way of seeing God’s presence and support for me each day. This has really made me more aware and grateful for God’s steady presence in my life through other people, events in my life and during my prayer times. I try to do this in the evening, and this practice has deepened my gratitude and joy.
Jerry Beetz, OFM:
Each day for me starts with an “attitude of gratitude.” In the vestibule of the chapel here at St. Anthony’s is a picture of the saint and a bowl of holy water. As it is my job to open the chapel at the beginning of each day, I stop and bless myself with water and recall my baptism and how I am able to live out my baptism as a friar inspired by those on whose shoulders I stand like St. Anthony.
Mike Chowning, OFM:
What helps me keep an attitude of gratitude? To kneel each night at the edge of my bed before I climb into the sack and remember those I love, those I have interacted with that day, those I have promised to pray for. Remembering them in prayer and asking forgiveness when necessary is the best sleep aid I’ve ever found!
Loren Connell, OFM:
Three years ago, after seven years in downtown Detroit, I was in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, taking in its awesome beauty. That experience was nothing that I had earned or deserved, and I immediately thought of the many good people in Detroit who could never imagine, let alone afford, it. Who was I to be there? This fall, driving through western New York and northern West Virginia, I was again overwhelmed by undeserved beauty and again acutely aware of the millions of people who would never experience it. I think of the many good people who at one time or another were or still are part of my life and who helped shape me into the person that I am today—teachers, childhood friends, colleagues from work, fellow Franciscans of multiple expressions, neighbors, complete strangers, my parents. Who am I to have known their love? To receive love, undeserved and freely given, is truly humbling. When I reflect on the many mysteries of my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
Jeremy Harrington, OFM:
I am moved to be thankful when people I meet show me how blessed I am. I meet people who are lonely. They are widows or widowers or single people who live alone and say they no longer have any relatives who are near enough to visit them or who are available to take them to a doctor’s appointment. I’m grateful I live in community with five wonderful brothers. People in a nursing home worry that their money will run out or that their health insurance is not adequate. I am grateful I don’t have to worry.
Carl Langenderfer, OFM:
What keeps me grateful day after day is what I often see on the news on TV. Specifically, there are so many news stories about tragedies and suffering people all over the world. I am grateful that I don’t have to endure many or most of those pains, losses, tragedies and natural disasters. There have been so many mass shootings that I’m grateful that I live in a peaceful village out in the country. I don’t have to worry that I’ll be shot walking down the street or shopping in a local store. I’m grateful that I’m not in the military or having to serve in an area where there is fighting or gunfire, especially in Ukraine. I’m grateful that I have not experienced any really dreadful floods or fires or earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes. I’m grateful for my health, having just had a colonoscopy that was clear, and an ophthalmologist appointment that indicates that my eyes are 20/20, better than last time, and my diabetes is well under control. Most of all, I’m thankful for my family and friends and loyal staff who support me and make my life and work almost stress free! And for my faith in God and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Michael Lenz, OFM:
As I get older, each morning, I thank God for another day of life. I’m becoming more grateful for all the people who have touched my life and helped me become who I am today. One of my favorite blessings is to be able to sit in my comfortable chair with a good book and a cup of coffee. The simple things are the best part of life.
Mark Ligett, OFM:
I have always been a grateful person, or at least I have tried to be. But gratefulness overtook me on June 26, 2007, when I received a new kidney from my friend Erich Fechner. I awake each day full of thanks for this amazing gift that has allowed me to continue to live a rich and full life. When I find myself getting upset with anyone or any situation in life, I can usually let go of those feelings quickly with a simple remembrance that I am alive! I met Erich at St. Meinrad’s where I was studying for my master’s degree. Little did I know that I would come away from that holy hill, not only with a new degree in theology, but with a new friend who would in time bring me new life! I am so grateful.
Dominic Lococo, OFM:
Though I feel my age almost every day, it’s always good, and I am thankful that most people remark, “Well you certainly don’t look that old.” Needless to say, it makes my day!
Giovanni Reid, OFM:
I ponder and recognize all the blessings that I have and continue to receive in my life and give thanks. My heart is filled with praise and thanks for all the blessings of the friars and other people that were and still are there when I needed them the most. How could I go through it all or be here without God’s merciful love for me?
Jeff Scheeler, OFM:
The ongoing goodness, encouragement, and support of friars and friends help me maintain a sense of gratitude. Looking for the good and expressing gratitude for that brings balance and keeps me from going down the rabbit hole of frustration and cynicism that the challenges of life can sometimes promote. I routinely begin moments of prayer remembering all the good things I have experienced.
Eric Seguin, OFM:
I’m very grateful for the many people in our parish who are always willing to help with anything in our parish. They welcomed me when I arrived here in 2019. They have always supported me, and I would not be able to do my job without them. I am also very grateful for all of my family and friends. I remember that even when many obstacles are put before me, there are always others who are suffering much more than I. Having a spirit of gratitude is what keeps me going on.