I heard a report the other day that said feeling grateful not only makes you feel better it actually helps your heart. According to Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine at UC San Diego, being grateful fends off depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease. He did a study involving 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. They each filled out a standard questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives. It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy. And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body's natural response to injury, or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.
Giving thanks has a great psychological benefit as well for us and others. People who are grateful are just a whole lot nicer to be around than people who are see doom and gloom everywhere they look. And giving thanks is central to our spiritual journey. To choose to be thankful encourages us to be aware of God’s presence all around. St. Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, calls us to “dedicate ourselves to thankfulness.” The Psalmists exhorts us to “give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”
So, as I look around the parish, there are many things for which to give thanks. I am thankful for all the folks who brought food and served the meal at the three funerals we had this past week. I am grateful for the guys who braved the rainy weather and the cold to clean up the leaves around the parish last Saturday. I give thanks for the men and women who, in the last couple of weeks, helped make 350 gallons of dressing, 1400 pounds of sausage and 600 gallons of burgoo. I am grateful for the many ways people have volunteered to help with playground duty and office help in school, not to mention the coaches who worked with our speech team and our various athletic teams. I am grateful for the folks who filled care packages for our college students and for all the people who bring food items for the Food Pantry each week.
I am grateful for the many unseen ways people reach out to their neighbors in times of sickness and death and for they times people show just to stand with others in their time of loss.
I am grateful for all the folks who advertise in our bulletin and newsletter and for the folks who prepare the newsletter for mailing each month.
I am grateful for those who help own the common mission we have to provide the money needed to keep our parish afloat financially. And, what the heck, I am also grateful for all those who have bought St. Joe Lottery tickets as well!. Each in its own way is important and necessary.