Last Tuesday, our two campuses came together to celebrate our Thanksgiving Feast with the elementary and adolescent communities. It was a beautiful sight to see and there was so much joy and laughter present.
In the week preceding Thanksgiving, I encouraged the adolescents to share to the Lord what they were grateful for during morning prayer. As this became a habit, I saw small changes in the environment - a deliberate choice to love, a small act of kindness, positive words of encouragement instead of sarcastic jokes. This lens of gratitude was changing these teens.
When I announced to the adolescents that they had been asked to serve the Thanksgiving meal, there was a few who grumbled, or who were bummed they would eat last. I encouraged them that the last will be first and that it was an awesome opportunity for their servant hearts to grow. And on Tuesday, I saw their servant hearts grow THREE SIZES in one day :)
With each serving of turkey, ladle of gravy, and piece of pumpkin bread, I witnessed a smile, a joke cracked, and a joyful leadership in each of my students. In their humble serving, they seemed so much more themselves, developing their characters through virtuous service. It was truly beautiful and a wonder to watch. What the adolescents were unaware of as I took photos and encouraged them, is that as they were serving the other students, they were making it onto my gratitude journal that night. How blessed am I. How blessed are we. God is good, all the time.
I pray you had a beautiful Thanksgiving.
On Friday, November 2nd, the Adolescents began a beautiful tradition in the classroom by praying for the poor souls that have gone before. Connected to our religion lesson on the three levels of the church: militant, suffering, triumphant - the adolescents learned that the poor souls in purgatory do not have anyone to pray for them. As a community, we began praying the Eternal Rest Prayer daily at meals which grants a partial indulgence for the poor souls in the month of November.
We also are completing a plenary indulgence by attending Mass, praying for the intentions of the Pope, visiting a cemetary (on Friday), and going to confession.
As we made our way out to the cemetary on Friday, I encouraged the adolescents to take it seriously - to reflect on the people who have gone before and whose remains were buried beneath us. We prayed a prayer of St. Gertrude where Jesus told her that every time she prayed it, 1,000 souls were released from purgatory. Then the adolescents meandered through the cemetary, kneeling in front of tombstones and praying for the souls of the faithful departed. Some said it made them sad. Others said it made them reflect on our mortality. Others said it made them reflect on how each person was special to someone - a wife, mother, father, sister - that each person belonged to someone and suffered a loss because of their death. It was a beautiful reminder of the temporary nature of this life and the beautiful promise of the Eternal life.
Please join us at home in praying for the poor souls with the Eternal Rest prayer and the Prayer of St. Gertrude.
Eternal rest grant unto them,
O Lord, and let perpetual light
shine upon them. May the souls
of all the faithful departed, through
the mercy of God, rest in peace.
I offer You the most precious blood
of thy Divine Son, Jesus,
in union with the Masses said
throughout the world today,
for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory,
for sinners everywhere,
for sinners in the universal Church,
for those in my own home,
and in my family. Amen.”