Posted: 5th September 2016

Morning Glory

Last Thursday School Captain, Conor Galvin (pictured above with his predecessor, Conor Slattery) delivered a Morning Prayer in which he mused on the true nature of tragedy in our world…

When I began to research what I would speak about at this Morning Prayer, I was flicking through pages on the Internet when I saw a quote, which really struck me. Pope Francis was speaking at one of his general audiences in the square outside St. Peter’s Basilica in 2013 when he said:

Men and women are sacrificed to the ideals of profit and consumption: it is the culture of waste. If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and drama of so many people end up being considered normal.

This quote really made me stop and think about what are these ‘tragedies’ in our daily lives – the things which can seem like major problems to us – and how in fact most of them actually involve something to be grateful about. Even in the average day here in Clongowes, many of the things we have a tendency to moan and groan about are at their core, the very opposite of problems and things that we ought to be grateful for.

Take for example how we often complain that we have to get up at half seven in the morning, when in fact we can be grateful that we have a warm bed in a familiar place to sleep in. There are currently over 5,000 people in Ireland who are homeless and do not have that luxury.

We also complain about a long, tough day of classes, when we can be thankful that we are receiving an education. There are 24 million children around the world who will never ever even set foot in a classroom, never mind go through nearly 20 years of education as most of us will.

We complain about the queue to get into the ref, when in fact we ought to be thankful to have food waiting at the end of it, something 800 million people simply do not get enough of.

These are just a few of the many, many things that we take for granted every day. It is vitally important to stop and to take a step back every now and again and be grateful for all that we have been given. If nothing else, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness in positive psychology research. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

This reflection also brings about an awareness of the needs of those who are less fortunate than ourselves, and it is important that we look for any opportunity where we might be able to help them, and to embody the Clongowes mentality of placing our skills and talents at the service of others.

It is often easy to think that we have nothing to give – and what difference would our contribution make? But to a Christian, the one who does not have a lot, but gives of what he has freely to others is better than the person who has it all but gives sparingly. This can be seen in the parable of the poor women who gives two small coins, all that she has, to the collection, and how her contribution is more valued than the rich man who gives lots out of excess.

To finish, I would just like to again repeat Pope Francis’ quote as a thought for the day:

Men and women are sacrificed to the ideals of profit and consumption: it is the culture of waste. If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and drama of so many people end up being considered normal.

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve, as you deserve;

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest,

To labour and not to seek reward,

save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

Categories: Ethos
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