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The Catholic Moment: Blessings and gratitude

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

By Sister Carol Gaeke, O.P.

When the pregnant Elizabeth encountered the pregnant Mary, there was great joy at the mutual recognition of God among them in Mary’s womb.

Christmas is a most opportune time to reflect on the many times we encounter God in our world through the people we meet and the insights that come to us in prayer. Each person we meet, each story we hear, is an opportunity to reflect anew on God among us — Emmanuel. An attitude of blessedness calls us to look at the world through the eyes of a child, where all is new and awesome and exciting. Even with the trifocals that come with aging, we can all retain the eyes of a child.

Elizabeth looked at Mary through such eyes and believed in the possibility of God’s presence. A more “sensible” person would have seen a “wayward teen” in this pregnant, unmarried young woman. But Elizabeth saw all of the possibility of God in this conflicted situation.

How can we keep those kinds of eyes except by seeing the presence of God among us? I encountered this attitude recently in a woman I met with a very debilitating illness facing some serious surgery, and her attitude was: “I am so blessed and have no complaints.”

Last week we had the collection for retired religious. In their aging and infirmity most of those religious I know echo this woman. They know that the power of God will sustain them through the generosity of the people they served and for whom they pray. An attitude of blessedness surrounds them.

A dear friend once sent me the following quote (source unknown) which I treasure: “I often think that people we have loved and who have loved us not only make us more human, but they become a part of us, and we carry them around all the time, whether we see them or not . . . and in some ways we are a sum total of those who have loved us and those we have given ourselves to.”  In this loving and in the relationships are the stories that glue people together thus and God is in their midst.

A bumper sticker proclaimed, “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” Most of us have stories of people who have sustained, nourished and supported us in life. In my ministry I have been blessed to have encountered so very many. My DNA is imprinted with these stories and I have been blessed to have shared some of them with you in writing this column. Telling their stories challenges me, and I hope reading some of them challenged you, my readers. I know I will be privileged to hear many more stories. It is with a sense of blessedness that I say adieu to the Catholic Moment, no longer able to share more of them with you but grateful that I have been allowed to tell so many for these13 years.

May the presence of God among us be the source of your blessedness and gratitude as it was for Mary and Elizabeth.

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