Tomorrow, many within these United States and around the world will observe a holiday that was first proclaimed by President Washington in 1789, and then formalized as a national holiday by President Lincoln in 1863. Both documents make specific reference to a day for giving thanks to our Creator – one proclaimed in a time of hope and relative peace, the other in the dark days of a bitter civil war. Together they serve as reminders that, even (perhaps especially) in times of austerity, challenge and difficulty as well as times of relative plenty, it is important to be mindful of what we have been given, and for what we might choose to give thanks.
It has sometimes been said that St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order, detested the “sin of ingratitude” the most. In a letter of March 18, 1542, he writes,
“It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness, though others may think differently, that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord . . . For it is a failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins. On the contrary, recognition and gratitude for the good things and gifts received is greatly loved and esteemed both in heaven and on earth.” As cited in Lehane, Brian J. S.J. (2011). “Attitude of Gratitude: The Examen Prayer of St. Ignatius.”
The work we do at Gonzaga – the work of teaching and learning; of discovering and communicating those discoveries; of supporting and nurturing each other; of forming new relationships and deepening existing ones; of working for justice and standing against injustice; of developing, enhancing and practicing skills and techniques – this work is profound and important. This is a community of people – students, faculty, staff, administrators – that understands our commitment is both to the present and to the future. I am so very grateful for each of you, for the commitment you make each and every day to carry the mission of our institution forward.
As each of us takes time during this Thanksgiving week, according to our own custom or tradition, I hope there are moments which allow us to reflect upon the graces and blessings within our own lives and experiences. Please know that you will be in my prayers, whether you are traveling long distances or staying wherever you are. And I wish you a restful holiday, emerging renewed with the energy we will all need for the final push before the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season that is upon us. Thank you, and may God bless you during this holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!Sincerely yours,
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President
November 27, 2019