The Year of
The early Church Father St John Chrysostom has
been quoted with the words: “Happiness can only
be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy
whatever life has and this requires transforming greed
Gratitude and gratefulness are not just words but
concepts and emotions. The words “Thank You” are
taught to children when they receive something – even
if they are not happy with what they are receiving; it is
a question of politeness and respect towards the giver.
Gratitude, however, is more than just saying “thank you”. Gratitude doesn’t have to be expressed by words but we can use signs, symbols or actions. Gratitude
is connected to grace, appreciation and goodness. Sincerely expressed gratitude creates positive energy and some people say it is contagious. What has been
a virtue in Christianity and many other Faiths, is today also recognised by science: people who are grateful and express their gratitude are happier, healthier and have
a more positive outlook to life than others who are not happy with what they have.
Being grateful and happy with what we have doesn’t
hinder us to improve and to learn. As Catherine McAuley said to her sisters: “try to be good today but better tomorrow”.
The concept of gratitude is often compared to the concept of mercy and generosity. Gratitude comes from the heart and doesn’t need to be re-paid.
In today’s society, there are many institutionalised reminders of being grateful. Days such as Thanksgiving Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day have become more an incentive to purchase gifts than truly acknowledging God or a special person in one’s
life for the gifts and positive emotions received that are
beyond what was expected.
At Te Ngakau Waiora Mercy Spirituality Centre we are
grateful for the Sisters of Mercy who had the vision
of an oasis of peace, spirituality and wellbeing in the
centre of Auckland. Despite many challenges, their
perseverance and commitment was successful and now,
30 years later, we continue the ministry to offer retreats
and workshops that enhance the wellbeing in many
different ways. We are grateful for all those who have
contributed to the life and spirit of our Centre and who
have generously shared their gifts and talents.
For this Year of Gratitude, we would like to thank especially Ngā Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand for the permission to use their wonderful design of the Heart of Mercy1. This design that we have used on the cover and in the booklet is more than a heart. It represents the concept of mercy with an energy of inclusion and also a tender embrace of mother and child. At the same time it can be seen as a koru, the beginning of new life.
This year’s programme refers to many aspects of gratitude in our lives which is expressed in some of the titles our presenters have chosen:
• How Gratitude opens the way
• Gratitude for God’s Creation
• Gratitude for the Land of Aotearoa
• Gifts of Gratitude & Grace
• The importance of actioning Gratitude
and many more.
Our spirituality programmes are aimed at providing wellbeing in many different ways: through meditation courses and regular gatherings, the Enneagram and Dreamwork, a choice of retreats, Muffin Meetings and evening talks, as well as workshops and reflections.
We are grateful for our regular presenters and facilitators and welcome the new presenters and their programmes.
Responding to special requests, we are providing another series of cultural presentations as well as a music workshop on Psalms of Gratitude with Fr Chris Skinner.
Let us enter the New Year with the beautiful thought by Fr Anselm Grün OSB of being led by an “Angel of Gratitude” that gifts us new eyes that will make us fully aware of the beauty of Creation. Eyes that will allow
us to cherish the beauty of the meadows and woods, the beauty of mountains and valleys, the beauty of the oceans, the rivers and lakes. Then we will realise that our loving God is touching us with this Creation and would like to show us how we are taken care of in this most extravagant way.2
Mercy Spirituality Centre
1 Ngā Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand, Atawhai Mai Atawhai Atu Mercy Given Mercy Received. Published
2 Anselm Grün, 50 Engel für das Jahr, Herder Verlag 1997, 2018 43
p. 43 [translated from German by Beate Matthies]