As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches on November 26, The Central Minnesota Catholic asked people to reflect on how they will keep gratitude as their top priority this year. A sampling of responses follows.
EMMA JOHNSON, SENIOR AT SAUK RAPIDS-RICE HIGH SCHOOL
St. Francis Xavier, Sartell
A mother and her son needed to make a journey 20 miles north of their village to seek the closest medical care for the son’s broken arm. As they began to make the journey over steep hills, tripping over tree branches and swatting away gnats, it began to pour rain relentlessly. The pounding rain turned the earth to mud and soaked the mother and the son through to the bone. When they finally reached the clinic dripping wet, the mother walked in and announced with a smile, “Praise God for the rain!”
JEFF JOHNSON, FAITH FORMATION DIRECTOR
Immaculate Conception, St. Anna
I think to be thankful, to be grateful to our Father in heaven for dreaming the world, requires a sense of wonder, which in addition to love and patience is a requirement for every class I teach. By wonder I mean awe, sheer astonishment, but we see wonder mainly in tiny children and we must strive to keep it alive. I offer my fellow Catholics in our diocese a small film my son made a few years ago on wonder as he left St. John’s: it features a teacher, a poet I was hosting, a beloved atheist colleague, and Bishop Donald Kettler!
JULIO CÉSAR TENA SORIA
St. Andrew, Elk River
In this time that we are living with a pandemic due to COVID-19, it is difficult to believe that I had the opportunity to attend a retreat, of course taking all the pertinent precautionary measures. Within that retreat, they asked me to pray with the Psalms. The Psalms that I used were number 139 and 27. This is the prayer that I offered to our God, the Father of all of us:
My Lord and my God, you examine me and you know, you know if I sit down or get up, you know from afar what I think.
Whether I am walking or in bed, you scrutinize me, you are a witness to all my steps.
The word is not yet in my language when you, Lord, know it in full.
If I ask the wings of the dawn to go to the other shore of the sea, your hand also leads me and has me taken your right.
Examine me, oh my God, look at my heart, put me to the test and know my concern: See if I am going astray and lead me along the old path, because you are my light and my salvation.
Who am I to fear? I protect my life, you are my Lord.
Before whom will I tremble? I ask the Lord one thing, the thing I seek is to live in the Lord’s house for the duration of my life, to enjoy the gentleness of the Lord and take care of his sanctuary.
Lord hear the voice with which I call you, listen, out of mercy.
My heart speaks to me of you saying try to see your peace.
It is your face, Lord, what I seek, do not hide your face from me.
In anger do not reject your servant: you are my defense, do not abandon me, do not leave me alone, my God and savior! I want to enjoy your goodness forever.
Chaplain at St. Cloud Hospital and adult addiction services
Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids
Although furloughed as chaplain at Adult Addiction Services in May, I continued my chaplain work at the hospital. Here are a few blessings I found along the way: Health — regular acupuncture, homemade meals, less stress, rest when my body needed it. Backyard — garden, read, pray, contemplate, sit and enjoy a cup of tea, listen to podcasts. Quality time — with friends, family, people I haven’t seen for a while. Projects in the house — wash walls, windows, quilt, clean basement. I am grateful for the time given to me during these months.
Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids
Grateful I am exactly where I am meant to be…
A wife, a daughter, a friend and a mother of three…
Even though there are days that don’t go as planned…
We remember God is always there holding our hand…
Loving us, teaching us and guiding our way…
Through the joys and the sorrows that capture our day…
May we focus on the good and not on the bad…
Being thankful of what we “have,” instead of wishing for what we “had”…
For it is always possible to change our attitude…
When we embrace our journeys by living with… gratitude.
St. Joseph, Bertha
2020 has been challenging! Have we considered when things go well in our lives, we don’t think about God as we should? When there is trouble, we turn to God. Could this turmoil be a gift? Is he giving us the chance to turn back to him – to repent, and to glorify him?
I believe this turmoil is a gift. This is our chance to say yes to God. Are we going to accept the grace that God is giving us? Let us glorify him! Let us love, serve and obey him! This Thanksgiving I will be exceptionally grateful!
St. Joseph, Waite Park
Today most people take Thanksgiving as a day to eat and shop and we forget the true intention of the holiday, which is to give thanks with family and close friends, remembering the moment when almost 400 years ago, two very different cultures came together to give thanks and enjoy the fruits of the harvest.
For us Christians, Thanksgiving is traditionally dedicated to expressing our gratitude to God for all the blessings bestowed.
Expressing gratitude is not only convenient, but healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the broader vision that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed.
So, I urge you to thank God for our daily blessings. Let us develop a grateful and kind heart for God and for our neighbor. Here are some Bible verses for us to keep a grateful heart:
“And whatever you do, by word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
“Thus, they shall be rich for all generosity, which shall provoke by our means actions of thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
“In all thanks, for this is what God, in Christ Jesus, wants from you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Immaculate Conception, St. Anna
I am grateful for these hands now seen through the reflection of a window visit. These hands have split the wood, driven through the snow-covered roads, smoked the pipe, mowed the lawn, written checks, checked the eyes of his patients and painted the nails of his granddaughters.