On the nine days leading up to Thanksgiving, I am offering a novena for an increase in gratitude. I am asking for special graces to transform my heart so that my eyes will be opened to the incredible bounty of God’s goodness in my life, and the lives of those around me. Thank you for joining me in these days of prayer. I encourage you to choose something each day for which you are deeply grateful, and offer a prayer of Thanksgiving and petition for an increase in gratitude. Often the busyness of our lives, or the burdens we carry, or the pull of our secular culture crowds out the joy God intends for us to take in each other and in the world around us.
We are preparing to launch a new initiative through the ministry – a monthly devotional or newsletter featuring articles and writings on great Catholic and Christian philosophy, theology and thought contained in books. Tom’s scholarly background and study of the faith is extensive and his book shelves reflect this fact. One of his greatest pleasures is to pull a book off the shelf by one of his favorite authors, and turn to some worn page with margins overflowing with notes, and read a well-loved passage to illustrate a point or a teaching. Through Living My Catholic Faith, we’ll share favored passages, along with some of Tom’s insights, and steer you to some great books to expand and deepen your faith.
As I was reflecting on the new initiative, and my own love of reading, I was struck by the fact that my being able to read was a gift. This essential part of my development as an educated person, and, more importantly, a person of ever-deepening faith, I took completely for granted. Where would I be if I didn’t know how to read? What kind of person would I be? If I didn’t have access to the great writings that have helped me mature in my thought, and develop in my faith, what kind of spouse would I be? How difficult would it be to guide and direct my children?
A few years ago I worked as a free-lance writer for World Vision, crafting two-page descriptions of projects contemplated in some of the poorest areas of the world. I was sent packets of data about a region, and the specific problem that the project would address. The problems are staggering in scope and complexity, but I came away firmly believing that the key to building self-sustaining communities with adequate food, water and shelter and health care, lies in education, specifically in literacy, and more specifically, in literacy for women. Women make up 2/3 of all the world’s illiterates. Fifty-two percent of all non-literates live in China and India. In developing nations with low literacy rates, most women are illiterate. The literacy rate in Afghanistan is 28%. Of that 28%, 90% are women! Iraq has a 74% literacy rate – and only 24.4% of that is women. Ethiopia has a 35.9% literacy rate. In Pakistan, on 36% of the women are literate. India has a 65.2% literacy rate – 48/3% are women. How do you raise up a vision for your children if you have no idea what a vision is, or how you would obtain it?
What a gift we have in our ability to be educated, in our ability to read. We have vistas opened to us that over a billion people in our world today will never have access to. How could we be so complacent about it? Open our hearts Lord!
In his letters, St. Paul is constantly giving thanks to God. This is in the face of beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, and imprisonment! The more he was persecuted, the more he relied on God, and the more joy he experienced as he poured himself out. We pray for that spirit of Thanksgiving Lord.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Ephesians 2:8-10