Gratitude

If you are not a grateful person, then you will never be great.

If you do not appreciate the people in your life, then you cannot receive their amazing value – only their cost.

If you do not say “Thank you” when you didn’t get what you wanted, but, rather, what you needed, then you won’t know true joy if you do get what you want.

Giving thanks is easy when you are surrounded by a delicious feast and a happy family.  But, how easy is it to be thankful if you are sadly without home, without family, or without feasting?  The awesome, powerful thanksgiving that transcends the 4th Thursday of November is experienced by those who do not lack gratitude even when life is hard.  For these are the people who recognize life itself as an eternal gift.crucifix-2-flash

The life of your soul is not a gift that was thoughtlessly or cheaply purchased.

It is given by the Giver with pure love…

Live your Thank You by loving – and let your unconditional loving be your joy.  May God help me as I strive to fully live with gratitude…

 

For more of my posts on Thanksgiving and giving thanks, please click and read

One Year of Blogging – and Still Thankful

Giving Thanks (While Gazing upon the Crucifix)

Giving Thanks – Eucharist

© 2016 Christina Chase

Giving Thanks

It is right and just to give thanks to God.  Why?  Because all good things come from God.  Life.  Love.  Joy.  Peace.  But, what about the other things…?

In order for us to truly and fully receive these good gifts from God, we human beings are given, along with the first gift of life, the gift of freedom, or freewill.  For it is only when we are free to choose that we are free to love.  Yet, the shadow side of this great light is the freedom to hate, and even the freedom to be apathetic.  And where there is hate or apathy, there is pain, sorrow, and struggle.  When we are experiencing these hardships, sometimes we look to God and ask, Why?  Why should we praise You?  Why should we give You thanks when life can be so terrible?

I don’t think it’s the customary thing to look at a crucifix  on Thanksgiving Day,  but I believe that we should.  Every day.

crucifix-2-flash

The crucifix reminds us that God knows. God did not need to become human like us, God did not need to experience pain, betrayal, rejection, grief, fatigue, frustration, sorrow, death. But, when the Word was made flesh, when Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Divine became incarnate. Jesus, both fully human and fully divine, experienced all that it is to be human. Willingly. Lovingly. Even though, before his crucifixion, he agonized, filled with dread, so overcome that he sweated blood, he ultimately and freely chose Divine Will. He accepted the coming torture, humiliation, and awful pain of dying on a cross. He who is without sin, he who is perfect, underwent terrible violence at the hands of those who either hated him or cared nothing for him. He was stripped and killed by them. And yet…

He forgave. Being not only fully human, but also fully divine, Jesus is also Mercy Incarnate. He shows us, in the living of a human life, the true way to the good things. Enjoyment of the good things of life doesn’t come from having a life where there is no pain or suffering. The good things of life are love and peace and joy. Love and peace and joy are truly and beautifully good because they are not dependent upon the circumstances of life. They are not dependent upon other people’s choices to be careless or to hate.

No matter what others may do to us, no matter what horrible circumstances others may create for us, like war or desperate poverty, and no matter what comes our way through the workings of nature, like disease or physical death, the good things remain solid and true. Love cannot be blocked or destroyed by suffering. Mysteriously, love can be discovered or intensified through suffering. God knows. Christ’s love for his mother and his disciples was undaunted – even his love for all humankind was not weakened by his dying on the cross. In fact, his last words were of forgiveness for those who made him suffer so terribly and of loving consideration for those who were grieving for him. And then he gave his all, in his final human words, to God. “Into Your hands…”.

We are all in God’s hands. Circumstances may try us and others may seek to harm us. But, when we live, not by the measure of temporary and physical things, but by the measure of eternal and spiritual things, the Good things of God, then we can know, even when our lives are most difficult, the ways of peace and joy and love. For “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[1]

So, looking at the crucifix can help us to be thankful.

Maya Angelou once said that, in the midst of your worst experience, when you are down, suffering, and sorrowful, if you can look up from that misery and say, “Thank you”, then you are blessed. You are experiencing grace and are, most certainly, succeeding as a human being.

I don’t know if I can do that in the future things that will befall me. I know that I have done it in the smaller things that have come before this moment. In the midst of my disability and debilitating disease, I am grateful. Of course, I have much for which to be thankful – for my friends and loving family, especially my blessed and amazing parents who give tirelessly and joyfully of themselves to me and others, and for my home where there is safety and plenty. This temporary and physical life of mine is good! And, yet, my physical body is certainly not the best. Breathing can be difficult, just getting comfortable so that I will not have pain is a trial, and, as always, I can’t even scratch my own cheek or wipe my own bottom.

But, I am grateful. I can sit here and actually think about how weak and helpless I am and still say, “Thank you.” I hope and pray that I may always be able to do that. (And I hope and pray that I will not be put to the test.)

This particular Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful that my father did not have a heart attack and that he got through septuple coronary bypass surgery successfully. I can add this to the list of many blessings. And I am mindful of those in the world whose loved ones have died this year, of my own cousin, who at 47, suffered cardiac arrest and now has severe, irreversible cognitive brain damage. My cousin’s husband and sons, with their care and devotion to Barbara, prove that love is scary strong, that love is unconquerable.

Life is hard. Life is terrible. Life is good. This is our faith as Christians, and it is a great mystery, a mystery that can only  be known in love, that can only begin to be glimpsed when we gaze upon a crucifix…

Happy Thanksgiving.

© 2015 Christina Chase

 


 

[1] Romans 8:38-39

Photo Credit: A crucifix in the vestibule of St. Paul’s Basilica in Toronto, ON, Canada. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

God Is Good

My father had open heart surgery this past Monday because of blocked coronary arteries.  He had a septuple bypass – I didn’t even know one could have that many!  We were all very surprised that he needed this and also very grateful that he had never had a heart attack.  He works so hard and with his circulatory system the way it was… I believe that God was definitely watching over him.  The surgeons were very confident that he would get through the surgery well and that it would be successful because he is in good shape, not overweight, doesn’t drink and doesn’t smoke.  Still… It was major surgery and we know that things can happen…

Thankfully, he did get through the surgery well and, so far, he is recovering successfully.  Someone told me that there are so many people praying for a good result for him that God wouldn’t dare to disappoint them.  But, I don’t think it really works that way.  First of all, God is pretty daring.  Second of all, God’s will is God’s will.  We know that God hears all prayers and answers all of the prayers of the faithful.  What that answer is, however, is hidden in the mind of God until it is revealed.  And it isn’t always the answer that had been sought.

God’s answer to our prayers may be “Yes, that is what I will and you shall receive it for it is for your good.”  Or, God’s answer to our prayers may be “No, that is not what is best for you, but I will lovingly give you what is for your good.”  And sometimes that thing that is for our good doesn’t seem very good at first.  Maybe it never does in this life.  But, ultimately, when we see the big picture, when we look through the loving eyes of God with the Beatific Vision, we will understand and see the good.  For God works in mysterious ways, ways that are far above our own ways.

I have faith that God will protect and keep my father safe always.  But, I do not want to pretend to know the mind of God.   No human does.   I am grateful for every day and for every hour of every day and I know that God is good.  I know that, in order to be a true believer, in order to be someone who truly loves God and, so, someone who is who she is created to be, then I must trust God.   When one reads the stories of the Saints and knows that there can be blessings in sufferings,  it is a very scary thing to trust God!  Yet, this is what I am called to do.  For the past week, this is what I have been trying to do.   Only God knows how well or how poorly I have been doing it.   Thankfully, God is merciful!

My family doesn’t deserve any better blessings than any other family on earth.   God loves everybody,  God desires the best, the true good, and the truest joy, for everybody.   My father will receive nothing more and nothing less.   This is what I believe.   It is only up to us to await God’s will, to be ready to receive the answer that God will reveal.   I don’t see how I could ever be truly prepared for tragedy,  for the sudden or early death of one of my loved ones.   But, this kind of thing happens to people all of the time – and they are no less loved by God,  no less blessed.   I think the truest blessing lies in understanding that God is good.   Through the easier and more pleasant times as well as through the rougher and more sorrowful times, God is good.

All the time.

God is good.

God knows my plea, God knows the deepest desire of my heart.   I put my loved ones into his hands, begging for mercy, begging that I will not be put to the test.   And then I thank God for what ever God wills.   For, whatever God wills,  God is good.

This is my faith. I don’t always live it well, not at all.  One thing that  I have learned  so far from this experience is to remember that God loves me  and created me for a very special and specific purpose.   I cannot let myself get sidetracked from that purpose.  My father gives so much of himself to take care of me and I want to make him proud.  And I want to make God, my heavenly Father,  proud.   I am a writer.   Please, God,  help me, in my relationship with my dad, so that, living and loving with him, I may be the best writer that I can be.  And thank you for his health so far –  please continue to watch over him and to bless him with recovery, good health, and strength.

Amen.

© 2015 Christina Chase

Giving Thanks – Eucharist

“For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son….”  [John 3:16]  There is no more profound truth than this, and no greater love – no better reason for giving thanks.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  It is a day that we set apart in order to be mindful of all the goodness in our lives and to be truly grateful for the gifts that we have been given.  It is right and just for us to give thanks to God for Creation, for life itself, for our lives, and for His Infinite Love.  Believers, of course, should be mindful and grateful every day.  I will be going to Mass tomorrow even though it’s not Sunday, even though it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation, because I deeply desire to participate in the Eucharistic liturgy on the day that is called Thanksgiving, even by nonbelievers.  After all, Eucharist means thanksgiving.

In the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass, the Paschal Mystery – Christ’s Incarnation, life, Passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension – is celebrated through Scripture and Sacrament.  In the Eucharistic prayer, the outpouring of God’s love through Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross is made present again in an “unbloody manner” [Council of Trent].  As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we, the Church, pierce the temporal veil through the Eucharistic liturgy and step into sacred timelessness – uniting ourselves with Christ on the Cross in the offering of ourselves to God.  We give ourselves in true love, in thankful praise and solemn promise to God.

In lifting “our hearts up to the Lord”, we receive the fullness of Christ who is lifted up, his heart broken open so that he may give himself to us.  The bread and wine of the Eucharist are consecrated and changed into Christ’s Body and Blood – and we, too, are changed as we enter into his Holy Sacrifice.  And we make his sacrifice our own by living out this love, this surrender to God’s will, this gift of self to others, in our own lives.

I  hope that I remember, not only tomorrow, but every day of the year, that we most beautifully and truly give thanks by giving – ”love one another as I love you.”  [John 15:12]