Thanksgiving has become a secular holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, sports events and shopping trips. There is some, but not enough giving of thanks on Thanksgiving. Moreover, when gratitude is felt, it frequently remains just a feeling that is not directed toward a good and personal God.
Then too, when people thank God, it is usually for the material blessings of money, successes, and achievements in life. We do well to thank God for these things. However, there are spiritual things for which few thank him. He showers us with blessings that are unrecognized, forgotten, and neglected. They deserve our gratitude.
The terrible moral crisis in the Church and society only makes this special gratitude more necessary. Living the life of a Catholic is extremely difficult in our days. These spiritual gifts sustain us as we fight the terrible Culture War that rages in our nation. They fill us with hope for a future return to order.
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Thus, there are five such things I will be thanking God for on Thanksgiving.
I will be thanking God for his loving Providence. This year, he made me neither rich nor poor. He provided for me so that I might have no major wants and thus remain engaged in the fight for his cause. In the midst of all my struggles, I can say I sensed the presence of an ordering action found in the Creator and which is called Providence.
This Divine Providence did not only take care of my material wants. Above all, God provided for my spiritual needs as God supported me in all my efforts to oppose the evils of the day. Thus, it is that theologians define Divine Providence as “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.”
I will thank God for always being there amid the trials of life to provide for me and direct me to my proper end which is to be ever closer to him and work for his greater glory.
I will be thanking God for putting sublime things in my path. He protected me from the gaudy or extravagant spectacles that could have entertained me and catered to my worst passions. There were neither cruise ships nor casinos in my path with their frenetically intemperate distractions that lead individuals and societies into vice and decadence.
Instead, God put in my path those sublime things of transcendent excellence that cause souls to be overawed by their magnificence. Sublime things provoke what Edmund Burke rightly calls “the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.”
Throughout history, this is represented by extraordinary panoramas, works of art, music, liturgy, ideas, or heroic feats that have been called sublime. These things captivate souls and speed them in their quest towards plenitude.
Thus, God gives me those very accessible and sublimely beautiful things that reflect him. He provided me with spectacular sunsets and marvelous scenes of nature. I was awed by beautiful music and uplifting manifestations of the arts. He allowed me to pray in magnificent Churches and attend heavenly liturgies.
These things sustain me in the fight against a corrupting society. They provide me with images of what a truly Christian society might be. They strengthen me in the fight for him.
I will thank God this Thanksgiving for providing me with these moments of awe. They did not happen all the time, but at those moments in the fight when I needed them.
I will thank God for giving me special people who help me overcome my insufficiency in the face of the today’s crisis. They allowed me to see that I am not alone in the battles for the future of our nation.
God also provides society with leaders and models. He provides and calls forth what sociologists call “representative characters” who perceive the ideals, principles, and qualities that are desired and admired by society and translate them into concrete programs of life and culture. I will thank God for those above me that give me direction, counsel, and support.
There are so many blessings found in the Catholic family that bind us together in charity and support. There are also those less able and fortunate that God puts in our path so that we might practice charity, patience, and leadership.
All this is so contrary to the individualism of our days. Remnants of this social framework provide the elements for a more efficient and virtuous fight against a culture that seeks to destroy all Christian bonds. I will thank God for giving me all those special people that fill the ranks of those who fight for him. I will thank him for my own calling to be part of this great struggle.
I will thank God for all the crosses that he has sent me. The greatest cross is living in a world that does not acknowledge God as King and worthy of all praise and adoration. I know these sufferings are given to me for my good so that they might serve to unite me more to God and Holy Mother Church.
By dying to self, I can show my love for him who died for me. By accepting the Way of the Cross, I can embrace the path to imitate Christ, who took his mission to its final consequences and was obedient unto death. I can be comforted by the fact that the Cross is the way to reform society. It is the sublime perfume of the Cross’s self-denial that gives value, meaning, and beauty to all things human.
Thus, on this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for the honor and privilege of carrying these crosses in union with Him.
Finally, I will thank God for the Mother he gave us. Without this great gift, everything would be impossible. The Blessed Mother is the source of our strength and confidence.
We are favored by the maternal affection of a mother who intensely desires our good and the good of society incomparably more than we do. Amidst setbacks and defeat, she rallies to our assistance. We need only to be among those who have “fled to her protection, implored her help and sought her intercession.” She leaves no one “unaided.”
On this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for this great mother. She is the means by which all can be accomplished, and victory obtained, as promised at Fatima.
Thus, while life in these corrupting and violent times is difficult to navigate, there is much to be thankful for. We are truly blessed to be sustained by God in the fight for our nation’s future. May we make this Thanksgiving different and thank God for the spiritual things that few thank him for.
Editor’s note: Pictured above is “Saying Grace” painted by Norman Rockwell in 1951.