All the Reasons to Give Thanks
Published on November 13-14, 2010 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
I don’t know how this year has been like for you. I suppose, just like everyone else, it has been difficult. If you ask most people, they would tell you that the economy’s downward spiral has been the dark cloud in our skies for several months now. Let’s face it: everyone knows someone who has lost a job. Budgets are getting cut left and right. Wallets are getting leaner. And expenses are getting, well, more expensive. Money is tight all around.
As the “Father” of our Church home, I too have had to deal with these issues. I have been watching the collection going down from week to week. I have dreaded every crack in the floor of the parish hall, every leak on the church roof, every light bulb that goes out. I really don’t want to cut the “allowance” of any ministry, but, if things don’t get better anytime soon, some of our ministries and programs will just have to make do with a whole lot less.
This is a situation that is not unique to Saint Andrew’s. All the other churches are also feeling the crunch. Some have opted to wait for the economy to pick right back up. Others basically have slashed their budgets and have reduced their services. Most just ask for more money in the collection basket.
I really don’t want us to play “wait and see” and risk sinking ourselves into a debt that we cannot afford to pay. I have already cut corners here and there, and so far our Business Manager, Mary Jane Trimble, and the Finance Council are advising me on how we can keep ourselves out of the red. I also would like to ask you to consider giving a little bit more in our Sunday collection, even if it were $5 more each week.
I’ll be honest with you: it bothers me that the economy has us strapped for cash like this. But what really bothers me is that I don’t know how this year has been like for you. If I am to be what you call me—Father—I have to know where you are. I suspect that some of you are hurting, that most of you are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. I probably won’t be able to solve any of your problems but I want you to know that I am here to listen to what you have to share, to stand by you in your difficulty.
I think that a bad economy wreaks more havoc in people’s spirits than it does in their bank accounts. Often people not only cut down on expenses, they also cut themselves off from everyone else. This is the opposite of our Catholic sensibility, the reverse of what Christ has taught us about the meaning of compassion. No matter where this economy has pushed us, the Gospel still calls us to come together and share not only our joys but also our sorrows. It has been said that a shared sorrow is half a sorrow, a shared joy is twice the joy. Here at St. Andrew’s, I ask us to share our sorrows that they might diminish, to share our joys that they might increase.
Some four hundred years ago, the Pilgrims of Plymouth colony put their lives in the hands of Divine Providence and arrived in this place they had not seen, in a land they did not know. They did not have much and they knew little of what the future held for them. But they came together and shared what they had in Thanksgiving to God in a feast that lasted three days. We can only imagine the kind of year that they had. And yet they found every reason to give thanks for that year.
I don’t know how this year has been like for you. I suppose, just like everyone else, it has been difficult. But we don’t have to sulk about it; we can share whatever we have received with our parish family and together find all the reasons to give thanks for the year and that joy that only our God can make complete.