Week of 11/20-25/2023: On Gratitude, Praise, and Joy

November 20, 2023: On Thanksgiving and Finding Joy in Spite of Bad News
Even in the midst of a warring planet, it is always appropriate to give thanks. There is a reason why Meister Eckhart tells us, “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank You,’ that would suffice.” And, as Julian of Norwich tells us, “This is the holiest prayer—the loving prayer of thanksgiving.” There is plenty to give thanks for on this precious earth this Thanksgiving. It’s important to reach down into the deep reservoir of our souls to find Joy.  With that in mind, Matthew has teamed up with Barbara LeVan Fisher, a designer, art curator and publisher, to produce a new version of his children’s book, In the Beginning There Was Joy. Hopefully, parents who read it to their kids will take in its deeper message.

A life of joy now marked by grief: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter kiss at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Their 77-year marriage transitioned on November 20, 2023 with Rosalyn’s death at 96. Wikimedia Commons

November 21, 2023: The Mystics on Joy and Thanks (Whatever the News)
Thomas Aquinas tells us that “Sheer Joy is God’s and this demands companionship.” In other words, the universe exists for the sake of sharing divine joy. Aquinas also says that “joy is the human’s noblest act.” Are we able to be noble in spite of grief and despair? Julian of Norwich taught that we are all born into “a birthright of never-ending joy” and that “to behold God in all things is to live in complete joy.” Our joy can be deeper than our sorrows.

November 22, 2023: Heschel & Hildegard on Thanksgiving, Praise & What It Means to be Human
Rabbi Abraham Heschel says that it is humanity’s role to articulate the “silent worship” of all beings. The cosmos is a congregation in need of a Cantor…It is humanity who is the Cantor of the universe…. Meanwhile, Hildegard of Bingen calls the human soul “a symphony,” as well as creation itself.  “All of creation is a symphony of the Holy Spirit which is joy and jubilation.”  Music for Hildegard is creation “rebounding to the celestial Creator with a single voice of exultation and joy and the giving of thanks.” 

The Webb Telescope captures a Wolf-Rayet star just before it goes supernova. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

November 23, 2023: Thanks, Praise, Grace on Thanksgiving Day
A deep Thanksgiving to all on this Day of Praise in this time of concern and sorrow. One way to connect with praise is to revel in the images brought to us by the Webb Telescope which feeds us images of unfathomable majesty and beauty. Meanwhile, on the human scale, we thank Rafael Jesús González for this wise and compassionate poem, called Grace. Thanks & blessing be/ to the Sun & the Earth/ for this bread & this wine/ this fruit, this meat, this salt, this food;/ thanks be & blessing to them/ who prepare it, who serve it/ thanks & blessing to them who share it/ (& also the absent & the dead.)/ Thanks & blessing to them who bring it/ (may they not want)/ to them who plant & tend it/ harvest & gather it/ (may they not want);/ thanks & blessing to them who work/ & blessing to them who cannot;/ may they not want — for their hunger sours the wine/ & robs the salt of its taste. /Thanks be for the sustenance & strength/ for our dance & the work of justice, of peace.*

November 24, 2023: Where Does Joy Come From?
According to Aquinas, Joy is born of Love: “The only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love.” That is why joy is an anchor when struggle, strife and suffering swirl all around us. The Dark Night of the Soul is very real. It can be experienced on a personal, societal, or global level. But it’s important to look for joy even in the midst of darkness. Terry Tempest Williams teaches us this story: Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.

European Robin singing in an English wood. Photo by Tom Bradley on Unsplash

November 25, 2023: Hildegard & Einstein Giving Thanks for Intellect & Intuition
Einstein observes that there is a mystical drive in man to learn about his own existence…. I believe that the dignity of man depends not on his membership in a church, but on his scrutinizing mind, his confidence in his intellect, his figuring things out for himself, and, above all, his respect for the laws of creation. Meanwhile, Hildegard calls our intellects our “greatest gift” saying that our rationality allows us to understand “all things”—the Scriptures and Nature.  She teaches that Christ is “holy rationality” and “God is rationality,” and therefore our employment of rationality is something “holy.”


*© Rafael Jesús González 2023.  The Montserrat Review, Issue 6, Spring 2003; nominated for the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Award; author’s copyright. Printed with permission.

Banner image: Season of Joy and Thanks. Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash


Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake


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2 thoughts on “Week of 11/20-25/2023: On Gratitude, Praise, and Joy”

  1. Avatar

    May God’s Spirit of LOVE, WISDOM, Peace, Justice, Healing, Transformation, Creativity, Beauty, Joy, Compassion… continue growing in the hearts and lives of All our sisters and brothers, with Our beautiful Sacred Mother Earth & Her creatures and graceful abundance, and with All our physical and non-physical Spiritual multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS in our Co-Creative~Evolving LOVING Diverse ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….
    — Amen

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