Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians begins with thankfulness, the recognition of that community’s response to the faith preached to them. Recognizing what one should be thankful of begins St. Ignatius’s examination of conscience as well. It would seem that there is something here worth noting.
Thankfulness is the recognition of the fact that we have received what we need. This recognition serves therefore as a double action. First, we have to identify what we need and second we recognize the reception of the fulfilment of that need. These two points are fundamental in the growth of the spiritual life. First, with thankfulness we identify what we need. Here is the starting point for our spiritual journey because journeys are towards goals. Even if we are not sure of what our life goal is, we still are looking for something that will give ultimate meaning to our existence. Wandering aimlessly through life really is not befitting human existence. Even squirrels have a better sense of direction than aimless wandering. So first and foremost thankfulness helps us focus what we have established as our major goals and life projects. Second, thankfulness helps us realize that we are not independent agents in our life projects. If we really think of what is given to us to fulfill our life projects we realize our dependency on others. The great saints realized that, ultimately, all of what we have comes from God and hence ultimate thanks go to God. Since both Paul and Ignatius identified thankfulness as a beginning point of their spiritual journey, perhaps this may be an indication for the starting point for ours as well.