Rev. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C. '69, director of Campus Ministry at Stonehill, explains the importance of showing thanks.
WHILE WE AMERICANS have been formed culturally and cherish personally the 19th century values of transcendental philosophy espousing self-reliance, we nonetheless acknowledge that we are interdependent creatures. We need others to survive and flourish-and they need us.
As Henry David Thoreau gloried in his ability to maintain life through the labor of his own hands, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson balanced the concept:
"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, And to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude."
Gratitude implies the realization that we are dependent upon others for our advancement. Although we may sometimes recoil at the notion of dependency-a suggestion of weakness-gospel teachings propose gratitude as strength beyond measure.
For when we acknowledge our dependency, we can then acknowledge gratitude for that which empowers our lives. God's love for us, emanating through the self-giving of our neighbor, empowers our lives; it eschews self-reliant entitlement for self-reliant responsibility.
Self-reliance is born of God's gift; to receive that gift allows for authentic giving of self-the best portion of one's self-so that others may receive. That is why the great Christian prayer is the Eucharist, Greek for Thanksgiving.
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