St. Ignatius asserted that the essence of sin is ingratitude. A great theologian of the past, Meister Eckhart, commenting on prayer, asserted that if the only thing we did in prayer was to “thank God” that would be enough! Shakespeare poignantly noted in one of his plays: “More painful than a serpent’s tooth is that of an ungrateful child.”
In the healing of the ten lepers, only one of those healed came back to Jesus to render Him thanksgiving, and it was a foreigner—a Samaritan. Jesus marveled that only one returned to give Him thanks and it was this foreigner. (Lk. 17:1-19).
The fourth Thursday of November is a holiday in the United States to show gratitude, Thanksgiving. Eating, drinking, resting and enjoying life—all
of these are part and parcel of Thanksgiving, but sometimes we miss the real meaning of that day and forget to render thanks to God.
Indeed, all that we have in our lives, food, clothing, shelter, time, treasure and talents, not to mention the supernatural gifts bestowed on us are gifts flowing from the loving and Providential hand of a father that loves us so much that He even gave us His only begotten Son Jesus who shed His Blood and died on the cross for our salvation. How thankful we should be!
The only thing that we have not received from God is what we have chosen freely of our own accord and that is sin. This is our own doing and our own “undoing” and it is crass ingratitude!
The word Eucharist comes from Greek, meaning “Thanksgiving”. Mass is really “Thanksgiving” for the Gift of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, who gives Himself to us in Holy Communion. What a sublime, ineffable, extraordinary Gift! Let us chime in with the Psalmist: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love endures forever.”
In the Contemplation to Attain Love, Ignatius insists that we look to above; from without, from within, as well as everywhere, to be keenly aware of God’s overflowing Gifts to us. This goodness of God should fill our hearts with joy, love and gratitude.
On a natural, artistic, human, but especially supernatural plane, we should be cognizant and grateful to God for all. Once again, with the Psalmist, let our hearts resound with joy: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love endures forever.”
Let us go through a list of the supernatural gifts that God has given to us and offer Him heartfelt gratitude!
Review prayerfully all the graces that came to you in the moment that you were baptized: the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, the three theological virtue of faith, hope and charity; the four moral/cardinal virtue of Justice, Temperance, Prudence and Fortitude; the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Sanctifying grace—Friendship with God, freedom from the devil, a right to receive the other Sacraments, a right to inherit eternal life (heaven), receiving Mary as your Mother. Unworthy of this Sacrament and totally unmerited on my part, still God gave this to us out of His Infinite love. Eternal thanks of Lord for your goodness!
2. Belief in God
At an alarming pace, atheism is spreading like wildfire throughout the world poisoning countless hearts. Imagine waking up in the morning and having no belief in God— all materialism, death, and then evaporating into oblivion for all eternity! Hopelessness to say the least! But no! Your belief in a loving and Providential God, serves as a buoy and support to struggle through even the darkest nights, tempestuous storms, and thick , dense interior thickets. “The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Psalm 23) These words triggers hope to surmount all obstacles. “If God is with us, who can be against us?”
3. The Bread of Life
What incredible joy the knowledge that the sun will rise at dawn. Spiritually, the “Spiritual sun” will rise at the consecration of the Sacred Host in Mass when the priest repeats the same words that Jesus commanded him to say at the Last Supper: “Take and eat this is my Body; take and drink this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.” If in desolation at night, call to mind that the Eucharist, the Bread of life, “The Spiritual dawning” shall break on high in Mass. That “Sun” will descend into the depths of your soul in Holy Communion. Eucharist= thanksgiving!
Lord, a million thanks!
Even though weaknesses beset me, even though the just man falls seven times a day, even though my sins be as red as scarlet, I have the firm belief, and anchor of hope in Jesus’ most lofty attribute— His Divine Mercy. In concrete, the Father of the Prodigal Son is always waiting with open arms to receive me after I fall, in the Sacrament of His mercy, Confession. (Lk.15). Jesus, I trust in you!
In a world filled with egotism, selfishness, anger and bitterness and crushing loneliness, we are really never alone! Why? Thousands upon thousands of friends are at my beck and call in any moment, at any time and place. Who? These are the saints. Frustrating as it is when you call a friend and busy, again, busy, still again… busy—never, when you call upon the saints! They are always ready to listen, to respond and to help and to befriend you in your temptations, sadness and loneliness! What a blessing to belong to the “Family” of the Catholic Church! There is always somebody at home!
Not only are the saints, friends always attentive to our heart’s longing, but also the angels. In the book of Tobit, the Angel Raphael accompanies young Tobias to his destiny, and future spouse, helping Tobias to overcome many almost insurmountable difficulties. Your Guardian angel, St. Michael the archangel, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael are waiting for you to call upon them. Even more, the many choirs of angels patiently await your prayer: angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses ready to help us, both the saints and the angels!
7. The Revealed Truth
Imagine living each day in which the truth changes according to one’s feelings, like the weather. How disheartening that must be! As a member of the Catholic faith, we are not blown by the winds of changing fashions or modes. On the contrary, we believe that Absolute Truth exists in Jesus who said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He manifests and expresses His truth in His Word, the Bible, Tradition and Revelation, interpreted by the Papacy (the Holy Father) and the Magisterium, the Official teaching office of the Church. How consoling to know, beyond the shadow of doubt, that the Truth does exist in Jesus Christ and His Church!
8. Real Presence
In any catholic church throughout the world, and it might be the poorest, most simple humble church or chapel, rest assured, there is a Tabernacle and in the Tabernacle is living the “King of Kings and the Lord of Lords”, that is Jesus, the Son of the living God. He is always waiting for you to come and to visit Him. “Come to me all of you who are weary and I will give you rest… (Mt 11: 28-30). He promised with His last words: “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”
Jesus promised heaven! This mere thought should elicit sentiments of hope and inexpressible joy in the depths of our hearts. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man, the wonderful things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” In moments of desolation, lift up your gaze to heaven where the Lord Jesus, the angels and saints and Mary are waiting for you. Patience, in this life, heaven is forever!
10. Mary: Our Life, Sweetness, and Our Hope
Remember the encouraging words of the great Saint Augustine: “If you were to put all the love of all the mothers of all time together, then the love that Mary has for you individually is far greater than all those loves.” A mother’s love for a child is indeed strong. Many mothers would be willing to die for their child. Mary’s love is much more pure, noble, strong, constant, and reliable! Returning from death and appearing to St. John Bosco, St. Dominic Savio asked St. John Bosco, what he thought brought greatest joy to him in life. After several attempts and failures, Savio revealed to St. John Bosco that his greatest joy on earth was his tender love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Before disappearing, Savio exhorted St. John Bosco, the great saint of the youth, to promote devotion to Mary. Indeed, he did under the title of Our Lady Help of Christians!
Prayer has many forms, expressions and dimensions. One of the hallmarks of true prayer is that of Thanksgiving. St. Ignatius, in the contemplation to attain love, encourages us to call to mind the many blessings that come from God. From above, on earth in all that surrounds us, from graces within, from the Church established as source of countless blessings, our hearts should abound in thanksgiving. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, His
love endures forever.”