The Poor Clares: Let us give thanks to God
Though Thanksgiving is a secular holiday and does not appear on the Church's calendar, it holds much meaning for the life of a Christian. Just as Christmas is not about presents, Thanksgiving is about more than turkey and pumpkin pie. It is a time to count our blessings and, hopefully, to turn with gratitude to the God who has so lavished His gifts upon us.
However, too often we forget to be thankful. We turn to God and to prayer when we are lacking something, when we want something, when we are desperate. Sadly, we often forget Him when our needs are not so pressing and we are content.
The foundress of our Order of Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, Mother Marie Ste. Claire Bouillevaux, heard a sermon one day in 19th century France on this very topic, which captured her heart. The priest, Father Bonaventure, who was helping her to found our order, had been sick for several days. Feverish after a sleepless night, he was not able to give the sermon he had planned. Instead, he preached on a dear and familiar topic to him: the simple phrase "Deo gratias," or "Thanks be to God."
Recounting the Gospel story of the 10 lepers whom Our Lord healed, he emphasized that only one of the lepers returned to give thanks for the gift of a new-found life after the living death of leprosy had been wiped away. Our Lord did not ignore this fact. The wistfulness in His voice can almost be heard in the words, "Where are the other nine? Were not 10 healed?" The priest developed this thought – urging the congregation to give thanks with and through Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In fact, the very word "Eucharist" means thanksgiving.
Mother Marie Ste. Claire, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, dedicated our order to perpetual Adoration. Hearing the passionate words of Father Bonaventure, she felt deeply that nothing wounds the Heart of Jesus more than ingratitude.
Through this pivotal moment, it came about that the adoration of the PCPAs would have a particular end: thanksgiving. Our prayers would be forever offered in a spirit of thanksgiving, not only for our own blessings, but on behalf of all those who never think to thank God. Our vocation was to be a "standing in the gap," as it were, filling the void left by ingratitude.
Thanksgiving is one of the highest forms of prayer, and every Christian is called to it. "Counting your blessings" is not just a sentimental idea, it is a way of life enjoined on us by the Scriptures: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess. 5:18)
A good way to incorporate this call in our life is to spend a few moments each day reflecting on the blessings that day held for us. This can easily be added to the traditional evening examination of conscience as a means to deepen our thanks.
As far as counting goes, when we really begin to think about it, we will quickly realize that our blessings are truly without number.
There are the fundamental blessings of creation, redemption and sanctification through the great gifts of the Church and her sacraments showered on us by an infinitely loving God. There are also so many little joys in life: a beautiful day, a happy surprise, the companionship of a friend. Some things are not thought of with gratitude until they are gone. How often do we thank God for our five senses?
A life of thankfulness only multiplies our benefits. Adopting an attitude of gratitude makes us joyful – turning our focus from the negative to the positive. It also fosters humility as we realize that everything is an undeserved gift.
Let us make the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday more than a hearty meal. Let us make it a true time of thankful praise and the springboard for a life of gratitude. Deo gratias!
Sister Marie Therese of the Divine Child Jesus is professed with the Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration St. Joseph Monastery in Charlotte. This is part of a monthly commentary by the Poor Clares to focus on topics of faith and to address questions about religious life. Learn more about the community and subscribe to their newsletter by going online to www.stjosephmonastery.com.
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy