Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week, I can’t help but turn to one of my favorite authors: G.K. Chesterton. He was a British convert to Catholicism and a staunch defender of the faith in the early 1900’s. He had a great gift for seeing things from a completely different perspective, so that as you read his writing, it often opens your mind in surprising ways.
And one thing we can always use a refreshing new take on is gratitude. The great challenge to being grateful is that we so quickly take for granted all that we have. We get accustomed to our blessings, and no longer see them as blessing. We need only compare our lives to those of our grandparents, to realize what advantages and comforts we have that they never did, and yet we still complain. He writes: “The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.” As much as we accumulate more and more, we’re less and less happy, because we don’t keep that sense of gratitude.
The trouble is, those things we are used to, they lose their shine; we expect them. So he writes, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” We are reminded that happiness and wonder go together, because it is in wonder that we are constantly amazed at the good things in our lives. We aren’t overwhelmed by the bad, because we are dazzled by so much good. And gratitude is the key to keeping that sense of wonder which ensures happiness.
So he challenges us, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Shouldn’t we be grateful every moment of every day for even the smallest blessings? Shouldn’t we always remember that every breath we take is a gift from God we’ve never earned, but he gives us anyway? Above all, how are we not overwhelmed every day realizing that God Himself died for us on the cross, as undeserving as we may be, so that we could live with Him for all eternity?
In a world that has lost its faith in God, it shouldn’t surprise us that so many struggle, because there is no gratitude, they have no one to thank. But us, let’s remember this week that we have a loving God who has given us so many blessings, and let’s be grateful to Him. Let’s come to the altar each week to the Eucharist, which literally means “Thanksgiving,” and show that gratitude by handing our lives over to Him. Because when we are truly grateful, when we are filled with wonder and joy at all we’ve been given, we can’t help but give all that we can back in return.
Yours in Christ,