by Clemens Pater
Thanksgiving is a secular holiday that nonetheless reminds us of the important Christian virtue of gratitude. The Greek word for giving thanks to God is the same word we use for the ‘Eucharist.’ For Catholics, the Holy Sacrifice of Christ is offered at Holy Mass as a thank-offering to God. Gratitude to God for our life, our faith, for all His gifts and blessings, can be an antidote against selfishness, envy, and giving in to sadness.
I am grateful for acceptance; personal acceptance. Acceptance is the act by which someone receives a thing with approbation or approval. Acceptance is the essence of a gift. The gift is given and accepted. Acceptance links the giver and the one who receives and accepts.
Faith tells me that God made me as I am and loves me. He calls me to a participation in the suffering of Christ, to holiness, and to an eternal destiny. God made me; He caused me to exist. It is important for me to accept what God has given me; what God has made me to be.
In regard to people, we sometimes use the word ‘acceptance.’ People accept me – or they don’t.
My family accepts me. They may hope I improve in some ways, but they accept the basics of my physical makeup: my height, the color of my eyes, the timbre of my voice, my warts and wrinkles. They know the quirks of my personality. They accept the strengths and limitations of my abilities.
This is what friends do also: they accept us. With friends that are not related there is a greater challenge of mutuality. While among relatives there is an objective connection that cannot be completely dissolved. In the case of those we discover and choose as friends, we both must decide to accept and to keep accepting.
The acceptance of and by family members and friends is something that unites us. It is love. Family and friends love us, even when there are things we may do that they don’t like. We love them also; we accept them and renew our commitment to them again and again.
For this acceptance, I am truly grateful. I regard it as a most extraordinary gift – ultimately a grace of God’s providence. He put me in this family; he allowed me to encounter this friend.
Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and a quality of true friendship. Friends accompany us through difficulties – but do not hesitate to correct us when we have gone astray. Good friends encourage each other to do good and avoid what is evil. They cannot and ought not ‘accompany’ one another in acts which are hurtful or wrong.
Parents remain faithful to their love for their children. They are careful to form them to do the right and avoid what is destructive. They don’t let their children eat vast amounts of candy. They warn their growing sons and daughters against the excesses of alcohol and drugs. They teach them about the proper expression of their sexuality. While they always continue to love their children, parents must not accompany their children on a destructive path.
We are not friends when we accompany with our approval and acceptance the behaviors and life choices that are incapable of bringing our friends lasting happiness; that are an abuse of their dignity and destiny as children of God.
I am thankful for those who have accompanied me in times of suffering. I am forever grateful for the fidelity, wisdom, and acceptance of friends when I have had to walk a difficult path. I thank God for sending me apostles of His truth who, while loving and accepting me, told me when I was wrong; when I had wandered from the path to life.
Those who love us accept us, accompany us on a right path, and care more than anything else about our immortal souls.
For this, now and always, let us give thanks.
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St. Josemaria Escriva, from The Way, no. 268
“Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day:
- Because He gives you this and that.
- Because you have been despised.
- Because you haven’t what you need or because you have.
- Because He made his Mother so beautiful, His Mother who is also your Mother.
- Because He created the sun and the moon and this animal and that plant.
- Because He made that man eloquent and you He left tongue-tied …
Thank him for everything, because everything is good.”