Elation. It’s not something we mention let alone experience very often, but it’s how I described my own feelings and those of all of us who work so long and so hard to pull off such a successful Archdiocese Convention. We attempted what some considered the near impossible: an affordable convention, held in luxury hotels. A packed schedule, with time to relax and enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee with friends, old and new. A gathering to do the business of the church with a plethora of opportunities to learn just what it means to be the Church.
And for years, that’s what we planned for, that’s what we worked for, that’s what we sacrificed for. A few worked for a very long time, but in the end it took many working many hours to have the convention come off as spectacularly as many told us it did. And when that happened, in addition to the relief and the exhaustion, there was the previously-mentioned rare experience of elation.
On the one hand this elation is fitting and well deserved as a reward for all the sacrifice that was made. But as wonderful is this elation is to experience, if we are not careful we will miss out on something far better.
All the success which is tied to all of the sacrifice could have one other important element missing: gratitude, which only comes when we give thanks to whom thanks deserve to be given: God. When we see all of the skill that was poured into a week’s worth of activities, executed with such dedication and sacrifice, it’s easy to forget that God is behind it all. At the end of every Divine Liturgy, in our prayer of thanksgiving to God for what we have received, the priest quotes from James 1:17 and says that “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from Thee, the Father of lights”. He is the source of everything that is good and even perfect. We can recognize the sacrifices and efforts that were made that went into this Convention’s success, but without our gratitude to God, our elation can be nothing more than self-congratulations when, in fact, it can be the source of immeasurable gratitude to God for all the blessings that came from Him.
This Convention was an unequivocal success for many reasons, but principally because God Himself blessed it. When we recognize Him as a source of all that is good, what could have been a source of pride–which separates us from God–is transformed into the recognition of God’s immeasurable and unchanging Providence which draws us closer to Him.
So let us be thankful—let us be thankful for all those whose efforts contributed to the success of this Convention. But more importantly, let’s be thankful to God who visited us and blessed our gathering with His presence. The full extent of those blessings may never be known in this life, but we’ve heard many in the positive comments that have been already received from those who attended this gathering. And recognizing the presence of God and being thankful for it is really something to get elated about!