I write this to wish each everyone a blessed, holy and happy Thanksgving!
I write this aware of the pain many of us carry in our hearts during this time of Thanksgiving and throughout the Christmas season.
So, aware of this pain and the imperfect circumstances many of us have experienced on Thanksgiving – I still write this to wish you much gladness and gratitude,
This Thanksgiving, some of us were alone.
Some of us had family members who were missing through death or other circumstances — and our hearts were broken at their absence.
Many families are ‘broken’, divorced and separated – some in outward ways, and some in very hidden ways.
Many are living in strife.
Some have been abandoned or abused.
Some are caught in the web of sin and addictions.
Some are hungry and living in poverty,
In sickness or close to death.
When our circumstances don’t match up to the perfect, beautiful images of Thanksgiving we imagine or once experienced, deep sadness, or even depression can come upon us.
While our society’s images of close knit families enjoying each other and feasting around a a bountiful Thanksgiving meal are beautiful, they can lead us to have unrealistic expectations that were never promised to us by God.
God never promised us a perfect family.
God never promised that our lives would be free from pain or hurt, rejection or betrayal.
Regardless of our current family situations,
we still are blessed beyond measure in ways that go far beyond the outward circumstances in which we are living.
Our life is a gift.
Every breath we take is a gift from God.
Every beat of our heart is a gift from God.
Every good thing we have is a gift from God and it is right and just to give Him thanks!
And this is the secret to happiness — to be mindful of the gifts God has given us and to offer Him thanks and praise for these amazing things that we often take for granted!
To keep our eyes on Jesus instead of ourselves and our own pain.
I often think of St. Patrick, whose birth name was Maewyn Succat. As a young man he was kidnapped and enslaved for six years in a foreign land. Forced to live without shelter. He was often alone, starving and perhaps beaten and tortured.
In this deprivation, he turned to God and rejoiced in His wondrous gifts that surrounded him even in such horrific circumstances.
He didn’t live in perfect circumstances — but his heart was free and thankful.
Two prayers that he prayed during this time never fail to stir my heart, for they stemmed from his prayerful union with God during this time of dire need.
One has been turned into a song.
Every time I pray or sing it, I imagine Patrick singing and praying these words of praise to His Creator and constant companion while cold, starving and enslaved.
It reminds me of all we have to be thankful for that goes far beyond our circumstances.
May it be a gift to you as it is to me.
The Bulwark or Breastplate of St. Patrick
This day God gives me
strength of high heaven
Sun and moon shining,
flame in my hearth.
Flashing of lightning,
wind in its swiftness,
Deeps of the Ocean,
firmess of earth.
This day God sends me,
strength as my guardian,
Might to uphold me,
Wisdom as guide.
Your eyes are watchful,
your ears are listening,
Your lips are speaking,
Friend at my side.
God’s way is my way,
God’s shield is round me,
God’s host defends me,
Saving from ill.
Angels of heaven,
drive from me always,
All that would harm me,
Stand by me still.
Rising I thank You, mighty and Strong One,
King of creation, Giver of rest,
Firmly confessing Oneness of Godhead
Threeness of Persons, Trinity blest.
There is no greater gift than Jesus becoming man to die for our sins!
There is no greater gift than Our Savior and God desiring us so much that He found a way to be united to us in the midst of this imperfect world. He hides Himself in the appearance of Bread so He can live inside us, nourishing us and filling us His Grace, with the Father’s Love and the Power of the Holy Spirit and all His gifts: joy, peace, patience, gratitude, strength, courage, fear of the Lord, etc.
All that is good is a gift that He longs to give to us. It is only contingent upon our acceptance of Him.
The happiest of men are the ones who are aware and grateful for these gifts and who are living with and in the One who created us, redeemed and cherishes us more deeply than we can ever fathom.
These gifts are deeper, more profound, more healing and fulfilling than any momentary pleasure this world has to offer, and is far stronger than the deepest and darkest of outward circumstances.
To live a life in this awareness and thanksgiving to God is accomplished moment by moment and step by step.
It is accomplished by turning to Jesus each moment of our day — whether happy or sad.
By reading about Him in His Holy Word, seeking Him in prayer and in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
Praying to Him whether we feel like it or not.
If we take these steps each day to seek Him and welcome Him in our soul, we will never be outdone in our efforts or generosity!
And if we fall, each moment is a new beginning and a new opportunity to start again.
Our circumstances may remain unchanged, but our interior life will become filled with the love, peace and mercy of Christ — and a deep interior joy that cannot be stripped away from us, regardless of our circumstances, if we remain in Him.
The second prayer is really part of the first:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
May praying these prayers help us to truly see God’s nearness and the abundance of His gifts.
May each of our days be filled with thanksgiving, not only through these holy days of Advent and the Christmas season, but always!
Much love to you all!
A bonus gift that you can listen to at your leisure is a short sermon by a phenomenal priest for Thanksgiving Day:
|St. John Clonmel
||Thu, Nov 27
New sermon from Rev. C. Jarrod Lies. Recorded on Nov 27, 3:58 PM
Lastly, I offer a section of St. Patrick’s “Confessio.” It relates what was taking place in his soul that led him to offer these beautiful prayers to God:
“There the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and then turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my low estate, and took pity on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son. Hence I cannot be silent – and indeed, I ought not to be – about the many blessings and the great grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity;…the love of God and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
Copyright 2014 Janet Moore