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On A Firm Foundation: I Choose Gratitude

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By Mary Quilici Aumack

Chief Executive Officer
The Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County

 

 


 

As is our tradition, we traveled to Oregon this year for Thanksgiving.  We have done this almost every year since 1983 (Yikes!). We have deep traditions around outings, certain celebrations for certain days, and FOOD. As you know, my friend Father Greg Kimm says, “It’s all about the food.”

I once heard this definition of tradition:  Something you do once and enjoy so very much that you wish to repeat it. Such is our Portland Thanksgiving.  We went once to spend it with my sister and her family, and now it is simply part of us. Our daughter lives in Portland now too, so we have double reason to make the trip.

Tradition in a sense helps define us.  It shows that which we enjoy, that of which we are capable (I for example would probably never establish a tradition of painting beautiful pictures; that would be my sister Corey). Tradition puts on display that for which we are grateful.

Ritual is much the same. While in Portland, Doug and I visited Christ the King parish on the feast of Christ the King. The ritual was beautiful, the homily compelling. We felt at home because this is our faith tradition, where we find our commonality as we travel, and by which we are fed.

At the heart of all of this is the “why” of us, the ineffable gift of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is my friend. I am at once on one: one terms and in deep awe. I am bolstered as we are sent forth to BE the Body of Christ.

Sometimes our traditions seem rote.  When that happens I turn to gratitude.  I remember that these traditions were given to me by my parents, and that we are entrusted with the rituals, prayers, and works to keep the “why” of us alive. That in itself is such a gift.

Bishop Cantú speaks of a culture of encounter. Sometimes my encounter is quiet and takes some work. Sometimes it takes my breath away. Always, it fills me with gratitude, and that gratitude is what compels us to strive for a life of advocacy, action and prayer.

As we embark on our Advent journey, gratefully awaiting the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we ask God for the grace to open our hearts, to extend our prayers, our outreach, and our love, to all. We look forward to our Christmas traditions with great gratitude for the “why.”

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