Reflection on Gratitude

How to see the star of Bethlehem over Arizona in 2020
The Star of Bethlehem (formed by the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn) over Arizona, December 2020

Today I am sharing the reflection given for Friday evening prayer by Jim Bello to the deacon candidates on our most recent deacon training weekend. Jim is a deacon candidate from Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Soddy Daisy, TN.

Mighty and wonderful are your works,/Lord God Almighty!/Righteous and true are your ways,/O King of the nations! Revelation 15:3

Reflection on Gratitude

It seems like our world has lost any sense of gratitude. It was during this past Advent that the intersection of Covid, the election, and violence weighed heavy on us. How had so many walked from God and lost hope? So many found nothing to be thankful for.

When all the talk of the Bethlehem Star was going on, I actually thought to myself, maybe God is planning something big while the world stares at the sky. Maybe these two planets would spin and turn colors; a Fatima-type apparition. I knew it was a long shot, but I craved a message from God.

Christina and I got a glass of wine, went onto the rooftop of our condo building, and waited. As evening approached, I thought about all those without faith, and wondered if something might happen that night that would cause them to wake up Christians in the morning.

A half-hour later, our wine glasses were empty, and those two planets just sat there. They weren’t spinning. They weren’t turning colors. Our Mother was nowhere in sight. The non-believers that watched would still be faithless. It was a huge disappointment. At that moment, I quietly said, “God, I think you really missed a big opportunity.”

And from somewhere in my deep heart, I heard the words from tonight’s canticle: Mighty and wonderful are your works, Lord God Almighty! (1) … I created all of this for you, and yet you tell me it’s not enough? I was ashamed and whispered, “It is more than enough. Thank you, Father, for this gift.”

I was suddenly overflowing with gratitude for the work of his hands; for these two celestial monstrosities that were dancing for us. For this magnificent woman holding my hand. For cool air, and delicious wine. For each of you, brothers. For my senses. For my baptism. And for my Creator who loves me more than I could ever love myself.

The Catechism says, God speaks to man through the visible creation. The material cosmos is so presented to man’s intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator. Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his nearness. (2)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola said that a lack of gratitude is detested by our Lord who freely gives to us countless gifts in each moment; that lack of gratitude is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins. (3)

Mighty and wonderful are your works, Lord God Almighty! Let none of us ever forget to notice his countless gifts each day, and draw close to our Creator by saying, “Thank you, Father, for these gifts that tell me how much you love me.”

(1) The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume III, Ordinary Time Weeks 1-17, p. 805, Catholic Book Publishing Company, NY, 1975.

(2) Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, #1147, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., 1994.

(3) Gallagher, T. M., The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today, p. 59, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2006.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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