How To Be Happy

If you want to be happy, be grateful; if you want to make others happy, tell them you are grateful for their existence. It is as simple as that. Giving thanks is something human beings are created for, and we do it best when we forget ourselves and simply rejoice in the gift of being, especially God’s. That is what monks and nuns do all day long, thank and praise God that he is; and when we fail to do that, or allow our grumbles and gripes to get the upper hand, everything goes wrong. Instead of a huge smile spreading across the face of creation, there is a snarl of selfishness instead. It makes others unhappy, as well as ourselves. We turn inwards, become preoccupied, add to the world’s misery and pain.

Today our friends in the U.S.A. are celebrating Thanksgiving. In an important sense, every day should be a day of thanksgiving. Whether American or not, why don’t we all take a moment or two to register how much we can and should give thanks for? We don’t have to pretend to be grateful for things that distress us, but we can always find someone or something for which to give thanks without any falsification. People sometimes say they have asked God for something and he hasn’t answered their prayer in the way they wanted, so they are giving up on him — conveniently forgetting that he hasn’t given up on them. Perhaps saying ‘thank you’ might change their perspective, allowing God a little space in their lives. No one really likes being reduced to the level of a shopping-list or fairy godmother, not even God.

We don’t know what today will hold, but let’s begin it by giving thanks for the gift of a new day, for all that has been, all that is, and all that is still to come.

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Thanksgiving

The American custom of Thanksgiving Day has always appealed. Gratitude is such an attractive quality — one can almost hear the smile as one writes it. I have often wondered whether the habit of thanksgiving, along with plain religion and and a can-do spirit, are at the root of American philanthropy. Of course it helps to be blessed with material riches, but no one can accuse the U.S.A. of not being generous in its sharing with others. We have a Thanksgiving Day here in the monastery, the octave day of our foundation, when we thank God for our benefactors (you) and generally remind ourselves that everything is gift. That may sound trite to some, but saying thank you is never trivial. The most important act of Christian worship is the Eucharist, an act of praise and thanksgiving, saying thank you to God for the best of all gifts, Jesus Christ his Son.

A Greeting
We wish all our American friends a very happy Thanksgiving Day and assure you of our prayers.

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