Catholic Ministries Appeal
Gratitude, Kindness and Hospitality
As the beautiful holiday season is approaching, it is a fitting time to ponder the bounties of our life. It is a season of gratitude. One may say, it is easy to show one’s gratitude if it’s been a “good year” for us and our families, but it can be difficult if one has struggled throughout the year. We can all find reasons to be grateful and they begin with being thankful to God for the gift of faith and baptism. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; [and] that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8–9
Pope Francis has said, “Bearers of gratitude' make the world a better place.” Research has shown that gratitude can improve our general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen social relationships, and reduce stress and depression. Gratitude is for all ages. When it starts in the home, it is carried over to school, sports, the workplace, and even our parish.
There are small acts of kindness we can all do to improve the lives of others. At home family members can thank the preparer of a home-cooked meal; in school, children can write a short note of thanks to their teacher; in sports, it can be as simple as exhibiting a positive attitude even if your team is losing. In the workplace, it can be a simple gesture of holding the door open for someone. All of these are altruistic acts that show our gratitude to one another and can improve the communities where we live and help us to establish a place of true hospitality.
Our parishes are a perfect place to create or improve the level of authentic hospitality. This is particularly important as our fellow parishioners have slowly been returning to in-person worship. It is the responsibility of all members of the parish – the pastor, pastoral staff, and of course all parishioners to extend a warm welcome.
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35).” Here are some ways we can do that:
Wear a smile as you enter Church
Periodically sit in a different pew and introduce yourself
Warmly greet others at Mass
If you belong to a ministry, invite someone new to a meeting
Compliment the lector or choir at your Mass
Thank the hosts of a parish event
Be patient in the church parking lot when you enter and exit
Why is this so important? Gratitude and hospitality lead to a sense of engagement and belonging among parishioners, which leads to us growing in our own faith and fulfilling our baptismal call of being missionary disciples.