This is the last Thanksgiving, God-willing, that my husband and I will be spending as a family of two. It’s also, for those of you playing at home, the first. (As one friend remarked recently: “You guys just did everything in one year.” We prefer to think we are living a life inspired by Mary’s fiat.)
As such, Thanksgiving takes on a different meaning this year — and not just because it’s the last one for quite some time to be relatively peaceful. I find myself overwhelmed and overflowing with gratitude for our many blessings. I find myself almost unable to fathom the wonders of how God orchestrates his magnificent plan in our lives, if only we open our hearts fully to what he’s asking of us. It is a lesson that has not come easily to me.
I also find myself more keenly aware of those who may be struggling to feel God’s blessings in their lives right now. And also amazed at their strength. Take, for instance:
A blog started by a co-worker as a way to keep friends and family informed about her recent cancer diagnosis has morphed into a platform for real conversation, empathy and healing, for herself and for others.
A father of five young children facing his own devastating cancer diagnosis retains a fighting spirit and a determination that his will be the miracle that enables the Church to declare Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati a saint.
A good friend who has lost not one, not two, but three children during various stages of pregnancy has found beautiful, poignant ways to honor and remember each of their lives — a true witness to the God-given gift of life that begins at conception.
This, my friends, is true gratitude lived out. A multitude of thanksgiving, even when it doesn’t come easily.
These remarkable people are a reminder that, while we have no control over the path — and ultimate earthly fate — that God dictates for us, we do have control over how we respond. They have chosen to counter despair with hope, and sorrow with prayer. And in this remarkable and admirable choice lies the measure of their faith.
As St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who knew something of suffering, said: “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what he is sending us every day in His goodness.”
During his Sunday Angelus address in Mexico City this February, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of gratitude.
“Thanksgiving is something which is born and grows among a people capable of remembering,” he said. “It is rooted in the past, and through good and bad times, it shapes the present.”
I am grateful for so much this Thanksgiving, but I am especially grateful for the witness of such remarkable people of faith who I have the great benefit of knowing. These people will be in my prayers in a special way this holiday, as will all of you.