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An Attitude of Gratitude

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Turkey with the trimmings, family, football: This is Thanksgiving.

Turkey with the trimmings, family, football: This is not thanksgiving.

Are You Grateful?
We can all give thanks that the day, which falls this year on Nov. 23, remains the least commercial of our holidays. We can enjoy the day off. We can decompress a bit from our hectic schedules and busy lives. We can prepare for and participate in the shopping tumult of Black Friday. And yet ...

... yet we all know that deep down, "thanksgiving" (lowercase) isn't one day. Thanksgiving isn't about getting stuffed with turkey or getting the jump on Christmas shopping. Rather, thanksgiving is an attitude, a leaning of heart, a state of being in one of the greatest of all spiritual "emotions," that of gratitude.

To be grateful is to rise above the lows and disappointments of life with acceptance and thanks. It is to skim below the ephemeral "highs" of worldly comfort and success with purity and pragmatism. That is the grateful person, the one who is in a perpetual state of thanks for what God has sent his or her way.

Are you grateful?

Saint Faustina: Gratitude is the Attitude
In addition to what we can say about her and upon that which we can agree, St. Faustina lived her life in gratitude. It wasn't that God spared her from pain and suffering. We could make the case for the opposite. The saint suffered greatly in body and soul. She bore up under burdens both physical and metaphysical that would have crush most other people.

No, God didn't spare St. Faustina in the "Suffering Department." Nonetheless, St. Faustina gave thanks to God in every circumstance of her life. In fact, she showed the greatest faith, thanks, and gratitude in times of darkness, stress, and uncertainty.

Here's an instructive passage from her Diary

I want to live in the spirit of faith. I accept everything that comes my way as given me by the loving will of God, who sincerely desires my happiness. And so I will accept with submission and gratitude everything that God sends me. I will pay no attention to the voice of nature and to the promptings of self-love. Before each important action, I will stop to consider for a moment what relationship it has to eternal life and what may be the reason for undertaking it: Is it for the glory of God or for the good of my own soul or for the good of the souls of others? If my heart says yes, then I will not swerve from carrying out the given action, unmindful of either obstacles or sacrifices. I will not be frightened into abandoning my intention. It is enough for me to know that it is pleasing to God (1549, and 1262).



'Goodness in its Entirety'
In this passage, St. Faustina gives us the recipe for living in sustained gratitude to God: acceptance of His will. This involves a deep understanding of God's intentions for our lives. That, in turn, requires that we make time to listen for His voice in the quiet — in meditation, in prayer, in whatever moments of tranquility (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) we can carve out of the mad and maddening pace of a world that has gotten itself in a big hurry.

If we can cultivate listening for God's voice in our lives, we have a much better chance at discernment. From that point, it's hard to imagine a person not being grateful of wanting to continually give thanks to God for ... well, for everything. Again we turn to the Diary: "You have surrounded my life with Your tender and loving care more than I can comprehend, for I will understand Your goodness in its entirety only when the veil is lifted. I desire that my whole life be one of thanksgiving to You, O God" (1285).

In thanksgiving, we can better keep the faith. Out of thanksgiving, we can have a better view of the events of our lives. On Thanksgiving Day itself, we hope, we can stop and count our blessings. As St. Faustina says, God showers each of us with more "tender and loving care than [we] can comprehend." We need only to become more aware of His love. Gratitude is one of the proven means by which we can do this.

Homecoming through His Mercy
The world conditions us to be happy in success and to go after earthy contentment. At the same time, it brainwashes us to rebel against all suffering. If you think about it, this has to be one of the most unrealistic and failure-prone philosophies of life for the simple reason that life on this earth guarantees a full measure of sadness and suffering to each person.

The much more realistic way to live is to embrace spiritual maturity through thanksgiving. In doing this, we can recognize suffering as the opportunity to grow in goodness and in faith. Every saint has possessed that ability, to transform suffering by seeing in our difficulties the opportunities to grow in faith, hope, and charity. Saint Faustina, in another of her meditations on thanksgiving, says, "Thank you, Jesus, for the great favor of making known to me the whole abyss of my misery. I know that I am an abyss of nothingness and that, if Your holy grace did not hold me up, I would return to nothingness in a moment. And so, with every beat of my heart, I thank You, my God, for Your great mercy towards me" (256).

On Thanksgiving Day, can we muster the courage to thank Jesus for "the great favor" of making known to us our sinfulness? Can we then ponder how great is God's mercy, that even in our broken condition, He will always forgive us, always love us, and always welcome us home?

Home — can anyone think of a better place to be?

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Cynthia-Nov.23,2017 - Nov 24, 2017

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for everything happening in my life right now. I trust in your love that YOU know what is best for me. I want to embrace YOUR WILL even during this difficult time. Praise YOU, Father!

Lara - Nov 23, 2017

St. Faustina pray for us! Thank you God for EVERYTHING no exceptions.

George - Nov 23, 2017

Feeling God's presence in each moment of life and thanking sincerely for guarding my life...!

TXlady - Nov 23, 2017

Amen...Counting my blessings each day and being full of gratitude and thankfulness.

Carla - Nov 23, 2017

I thank you Jesus for my family and trust in your Devine Love and Mercy you have for my family and all and how you carry us through these dark valleys when cancer hit our home and give us the peace and strength to endure it and pray for your merciful healing on thiss cancer. Thank you Amen

Daisy - Nov 22, 2017

I am thankful for your comments each has much to offer. Thankful for God's Mercy. Thank you Lord for loving me, a sinner, for accepting me in my brokenness and still showing me great Mercy and love. Jesus we Trust in You

Becky - Nov 22, 2017

How thankful I am to be raised in the Catholic Faith. I am so grateful for the Cursillo Movement which instilled in me the desire to seek a deeper Spiritual Life and to walk in the Faith every moment of my life. And For all my Spiritual Sisters, my family, for my home and my children.
Praise Be To Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother.

Julie Sakal - Nov 22, 2017

There is no better place than home, and I thank God for all the good things he gave my family, I ask Him to keep us united and in harmony with each other, to bring our Paul back home with us today,to cure ou Michael to protect Sam's health, give us a future an grandchild from Paul and Blanca our Emmanuel this year, Jesus we are and will honor you and love you everyday of our lives,thank you God, thank you Jesus and thank you Blessed Mother for you intercession and your prayers

Julie Ann Shaffer - Nov 22, 2017

I used to pray that "this bad thing won't happen." Now, I pray for strength and grace to handle each situation that comes my way. God in His mercy has such an amazing plan for our lives....so much grander than we could ever plan for ourselves!

Cindy-Nov26th - Nov 26, 2016

This blog has opened a whole new prayer world to me! This year at Thanksgiving I am looking at all the gift and suffering Jesus has blessed me with. St. Faustina is truly a woman of my heart!!

Gabriela - Nov 23, 2016

God loves all. Turkey can be good food at Thanksgiving with family and others. The best food is spirtual nourishment in having Jesus in the Eucharist. A translation of Eucharist is Thanksgiving. When we wash our hands before a meal to eat, we should also wash our spiritual hearts clean in confession to have Jesus in the Eucharist the best Thanksgiving