Five Reasons to Be Thankful
By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor
Could it be that Americans feel like they have less to give thanks for this season? After all, when asked to count their blessings most people mention the basics: family, friends, health, decent housing, food on the table.
Yet in America 2011, there are so many families broken by divorce, and so many single mothers raising children who may have little connection to their fathers. As far as friends, some studies show that despite our digital connections, people today have fewer close friends than any time in world history. We live cellular lives, mainly due to the break-up of families, neighborhoods and communal trust.
Regarding health, people may be living longer, but are they any healthier? It seems sometimes we are kept going by an arsenal of wonder drugs and medical treatments that have become routine – heart bypasses, stents and all sorts of ambulatory surgeries.
Finally, with the economic downturn heading into its fourth year, many people have been foreclosed out of homes and laid off to a life of what some call “food insecurity.”
Even that revered Thanksgiving tradition – all-day football – has been marred by the Penn State scandal this year, leaving men to wonder if anything is sacred anymore.
Yet we have this season of Thanksgiving, and we have to wonder if we are looking in the wrong places for our blessings. The Pilgrims certainly didn’t have much in material goods when they landed at Plymouth, yet they had one another, their faith and the hope of freedom in a new land. This Thanksgiving, we would do well to renew that Pilgrim spirit of simplicity and humility before God.
Here are five simple things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
1.Life – How often do you think, “It’s great to be alive”? Or do your morning thoughts rush to a series of tasks and obligations that require immediate attention? The world and our schedules are so bent on doing that we don’t get a chance to appreciate the simple act of being – the gift of life. God has created you to love him and to be loved by him. Take a moment to reflect on this happy fact today.
2. Love – Speaking of love, how often do we put it at the center of our lives as the motive of our thoughts, words and deeds? The fact is that, despite the stress on sex these days, we live in a love-starved culture. When we say “love” we too often think of physical intimacy, but some of the greatest lovers have been celibates, starting with Jesus. Love is to will the good of another, even if it means less for myself. Try this on Thanksgiving: perform one act of selfless love or express one word of kindness to a family member or friend at the table. See what a revolution you can start in your heart, if you let God be a part of that love.
3. Prayer – To pray is to converse with God. What a great and powerful privilege this is, to have an open line to the divine, to the God who created the universe and cares enough about me to listen and respond when I raise my heart to him. Be thankful that we can pray within the body of the Catholic Church, through the Mass, and receive the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”), the Body and Blood of Christ.
4. Freedom – Consider that in a large swathe of the world, the Christian faith is tightly regulated and even persecuted. Be thankful for the freedom we have to pray in public, to build churches and to speak about Catholicism openly and bring others into the Church. As we do, be mindful also of the challenges we face in America from the secular mindset and the radical policies of government that would trample on the conscience of those who dissent from the regime of abortion and other attacks on life.
5. Heaven – What is your image of heaven? Cloudy mists with cute angels playing harps? I have to think hard about what I believe these days because my sons have questions from religion class. We know that heaven is a place, because two bodies are already there (Jesus and the Blessed Mother), and we know that our resurrected bodies will be there (God willing) at the end of time. The fact is, as I tell my boys, our time on earth is like a blip on the screen compared to the eternity we are destined to spend in total happiness with God in heaven.
Think of this, and be thankful!