The real gift, gratitude…
According to William Arthur Ward: “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” I was struck this line because since when I was a child my parents taught me to say thank you when I received gifts or any other presents given by family and neighbor be it small or big thing, we need to say thank you.
The greatest gift that I received in my life, I believe, is the gift of vocation, freely given by the Lord. I am not worthy, but He calls me, and I try to respond to the daily challenge it brings along. In my 7 years as a junior professed, this gift of vocation is indeed reflected as a priceless gift. God really provides for both my material needs and with people who wish to journey and accompany me in my formative years as a missionary where His strength and divine love is manifested as these are beyond my expectations.
Circumstances of faith and life taught me to give and without expecting something in return. Giving away a thing am so attached, caused me pain to let go due to its sentiments but, brings along a liberating sense from such “little prison”. Besides, I was gifted back with more and is, a way to be grateful in the little blessings received and to be contented. Being grateful is also focusing on the positive attitude and the goodness within us and others, to value the persons who love and cared for us. For the meals we enjoy and share each day and for having a job to provide the needs of our family.
In this time of pandemic, we are also grateful to our frontlines who offered their lives amidst the danger that they are facing to take care of the victims of Corona Virus. It is both a pledge to heal and protect oneself from it in the process. Indeed, a call to prudence and vigilance. Our share is to abide with protocols and cooperate with the guidelines to maintain the trust and sacrifice the medics has for us, as citizens and collaborators to end this threatening virus. This is obedience to God first and foremost, in preserving life as the 5th of 10 commandments requires us to observe. A challenge of gratitude, reverence to God and responsibility on our part towards helping others find way to do the same.
In Thessalonians 5:17, St. Paul says: “Pray without ceasing and rejoice always.” As a Christian, the best I can do is to be happy and worry-free, work hard and by then, a real dependence in God´s providence will become real. Though we are not financially rich but am thankful for the good health am blessed with and of my family. This too, is a reason to continue giving praise and glorifying God.
Jesus also reminds us to give thanks both in joy and in difficult situations. God does not abandon us in dark moments of our lives. He is always with us even when we feel He is far away from us. When we pray and he does not answer yet it means that He has a best plan for us and waiting helps develop in us the virtue of patience. It gives us the courage not to lose our trust in God because He is merciful, and He will not abandon us. Not only to be thankful for what we receive or make us happy but thankful also during chaotic moments, where we are tested with the courage to be strong both sadness and in joy. As what David Steinall-Rast quoted: “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
During this given chance of two years and two months living in Madrid for our Intercongregational Juniorate Formation, I feel so blessed for the opportunity to meet sisters and friends of other cultures. It widens my vision and learn to be listen to different opinions, ideas, perspectives and most especially to be open for new learning. Through this program, I can know myself true better: to accept my capabilities, talents, strengths as well as my weaknesses. I also appreciate the beauty of other cultures and learn to adapt to the European missionary orientation. One most challenging thing living in the community is to know how to accept each one´s uniqueness and to accept others; the “who we are” before God, as we all are created in the image of God. Indeed, there is no perfect community but if we learn to be grateful and know how to respect our differences, life must be a happy one.
God has His best plan for me, in my day to day living, in the people I serve and meet and in my personal relationship to Him. As we come to the closure of our common formation studies as Intercongregational Juniorate in Madrid, the formation process as persons continues throughout a lifetime. The learning and experiences learned from my sisters in Madrid, in communities of Leon and with the group of “Los ancianos” (where we were having our apostolate), will always be in my mind and heart. All these made me grateful to our family and friends, my sisters in the Congregation: our Province of San Luis Beltran (Philippines) and the General Council who are part and instrumental in this journey. Your prayers, support, accompany and accepting me as myself all the way. To our Almighty God, the source of life who never gives up on us and continues to manifest His mercy and forgiveness to His people.
Truly, “the real gift is gratitude; the more grateful you are, the more present you become”.
Sister Vanesa Salatan Alanano