Thursday, November 24, 2011

A personal thanksgiving

For Christians giving thanks to God is a way of life, or it should be. I admit to not always being thankful, or even as thankful as I should be. While there are many things to be grateful for, life is the first and greatest blessing. To answer Hamlet's timeless query, it is better to be than not to be, even though sometimes we may wonder. I can remember arguing with my Mom when I was a teenager and saying to her, in that particularly overwrought teenage way, "I didn't choose to be born." This is a true enough statement, but it misses the point that to be born is a gift, that is, existence is given to me by God with the cooperation of my parents.

I mention this because today marks the first Thanksgiving since my Dad's passing. When I thought about this last night I started to cry. Then I remembered something my Mom told me after my Dad's death. They had gone out to eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant one evening in the early fall of last year, a few months prior to his fatal diagnosis. Once they were seated, my Dad asked my Mom if her life had turned out better or worse than she had hoped. My Mom admitted to being taken back by the question, which was not the kind of thing my Dad inquired about very often. As she told it, her answer was tentative.

So, as just about anyone would, she turned and asked him the same question. She said he looked at her with a little irritation, like the answer should be obvious, and said, "Oh, way better; better than I could have imagined."

So, today I am thankful for life, for my Dad and Mom, my lovely sisters, my beautiful wife and six wonderful children. I am grateful for dear friends, for companions, those with whom I share the Bread of Life and who, quite improbably care about me, love me, assist me in walking my path toward destiny. I am grateful to be set aside as a servant to serve the Church and the world, even when I realize God has far better people on whom to rely than me- I am the guy with only one talent, but, unlike the servant in Jesus parable, I didn't bury mine. Even in the end, if God lets me retain my one talent only because I didn't bury it, not multiplying it, I will be grateful. I am grateful to live in these United States, which remains exceptional in many ways. This blessing helps me to realize, over and again, that where much is given much is expected.

It is important for me to express all of this because very often I expect too much out of life and feel disappointed when everything doesn't work out according to my own plans, designs, and desires. Life is beautiful, even in its terrifying aspects and moments, as these are only invitations to really trust God, to see that Christ will never abandon us. He is at our side as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Hence, we have no need fear. Apart from my life, my being, I am most thankful for Jesus Christ.

So, with the Psalmist I sing: "God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea, Though its waters rage and foam and mountains totter at its surging" (Ps. 46:2-4). This is especially timely for me as I am making my way through Revelation.

On Facebook this morning I wanted to type a Thanksgiving message. So, I just started to write and here's what came out: "Despite grousing in certain quarters, I am glad that our nation sets aside a day each year to give thanks to God for all our many blessings. As with so many things, we Catholics have a fancy word for this, "Eucharist." As many will know, Eucharist is Greek for thanksgiving. "it is right always and everywhere to give [God] thanks," even (especially) in our difficulties. To one and all, however you choose to give thanks today, have a blessed day."


  1. Really beautiful post. I am very thankful for what you do here and your gifts at online ministry are a great inspiration.
    Like you say, even in the difficult times and stormy seas all we need to do is stretch out our arms and ask to be saved,but I know my own stubbornness and fear in this respect. It is good to be reminded that God never fails us and we have so much to be thankful for.
    We do not have an official Thanksgiving Day in the UK but I celebrate it in spirit with my friends in the US and I am sure there are many Americans and their families based here that do have the full turkey and trimmings,so I wish them a great day too.

    Happy Thanksgiving Don, and all Blessings to you and your family on this great day.

  2. Thanks, Philomena (still love your name). We're headed to my Mom's here in a little while.

  3. I am thankful for this blog and for getting to know you(cyberly) I hope you are having a beautiful and relaxing day with your family!

  4. This post is beautiful indeed. I thought of you earlier, when I thought of all of us who had lost a family member this year. Prayers for you that your day with family was a good one. God bless you for all that you do.

  5. Thanks guys. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, too. A very nice, quiet day here and at my Mom's

  6. Thank you for your always Inspiring Posts.

    Said a quick Prayer for Your Family, with you and with God ♥

    Bless You and Yours Always and All Ways...

    Oh, and I am Especially thankful of Your Talent TOO!!!


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