Thanksgiving reflection: Gratitude, mission and the Universal Apostolic Preferences

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to invite you into a place of gratitude. But I would like to do it in an unusual way, making use of the Universal Apostolic Preferences. I’d like to use them to help us recognize and be grateful for our own contributions to advancing the mission of Marquette University and of the Society of Jesus.

The preferences are to:

  1. Show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment
  2. Walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, [and to do so] in a mission of reconciliation and justice
  3. Accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future
  4. Collaborate in the care of our Common Home

I invite you to ponder for a few moments one or two events, interactions, where you have contributed—in ways large or small—to advancing the mission of Marquette in accord with one or another of these preferences. It might be that you helped someone to sort through a challenging issue in a mode of discernment, looking for the magis. Perhaps you participated in advancing the work of sustainability. Maybe you pointed a student in a direction that helped them to find a vision for their future, one that elicited hope and creative energy.

Each time you did something like this, you embodied the mission of Marquette in a way that reflects and makes real the Universal Apostolic Preferences. Give yourself some time to remember those moments, to savor them, to take a healthy pride in being able to Be The Difference for those around you.

As you turn your thoughts toward places of gratitude in your own lives, I hope you will take some time to savor your own contribution to the mission of Marquette University. Whether our actions have been great or small, each of has reason to be grateful when we have been privileged to be the difference.

God bless you!

Rev. Jim Voiss, S.J.
Vice president for mission and ministry