A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘gratitude

In 1990, Sinéad O’Connor released an album called I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

So many items could fill our list of things we want—some of them universal, such as an end to war or racism, a better life for our children, or an opportunity to make a difference in our community. If we take a good look at that mental list, though, things we could do without fill a number of the slots. And too often we don’t want what we do have.

We see a professionally remodelled house on TV and wish ours looked like something out of a decorating magazine, forgetting that our less-than-spotless place is home to a young, active family and that a little mess goes with the territory.

We wish our spouse were more handy or more social or more something, forgetting that he is kind and generous, can barbecue anything and plays a mean game of street hockey with the kids or that she has a great sense of humour, keeps track of everyone’s activities and can balance the chequebook.

We wish our children listened more and were more diligent about their schoolwork, overlooking the fact that they’re healthy and strong when so many children are not and that they’re growing up to be people of character and strong faith.

If we realized that the grass only seems greener in that new gated community we drive by on the way to work, we’d be a lot more content with our lives.

It’s easy to say we’re more focussed on our wants these days when many of us can satisfy our basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, but a glance at Ecclesiastes 6:9* confirms this is no modern problem:

Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Maybe we need to pause for a moment each day and look at all that we have to be grateful for: our senses, our health, food and shelter, the love of our family, our talents and good qualities, the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy, and so on.


At the top of the list of things I’m grateful for…

As the Rolling Stones reminded us, “You can’t always get what you want.” God doesn’t always give us what we want because he’s a loving father and he knows that having our every wish fulfilled wouldn’t be good for us.

May we stop to notice and appreciate what we have and thank God for the ways he has blessed and continues to bless us.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Thanksgiving Monday may be well under way and the long weekend nearly over, but I’m still thinking about thankfulness and gratitude today.

At Mass yesterday, we heard about the ten lepers Jesus cleansed, only one of whom turned back to thank Jesus and praise God for his healing (see Luke 17:11-18*). Our priest reminded us to do two things: thank God for our blessings and remember that all we have is a blessing from God and not simply the product of our own work.

Often we hear about “self-made” men and women who rose from humble roots to wealth and power. What we may not hear about is the teacher who encouraged that person as a child, the employer who gave that person a much-needed job and thus the means to pursue his or her dreams, the valuable contact that person made at a key moment. And if these people are mentioned, the timely meetings may be chalked up to “luck” and “good timing.” Not to blessings from God.

But as our priest pointed out in his homily, if we are born alive when others are stillborn, if we have hearing or sight or the ability to talk or walk when others don’t, if we have children when others can’t, if we have a job when others don’t, these are blessings that we should thank God for.

We tend to take life, good health, and physical and intellectual abilities—our own or loved ones’—for granted until they’re in jeopardy or lost. Instead, we focus on what we lack or would like to change.

For example, I could dwell on the fact that I’m 40 and not at my ideal weight—or I could be thankful that I’m alive and in good health overall. That I can still see a beautiful sunset and hear my favourite music.

Or I could focus on the challenges of parenting a teenager and the fact that we don’t always see eye to eye—or I could thank God that he is healthy and active, knows his own mind, and has goals and dreams to pursue.

Whether we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday or plan to do so today, I pray that we would recognize and be thankful every day for the ways God has blessed us.

Praise the LORD!

For it is good to sing praises to our God;

for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. (Psalm 147:1)

(*Scripture reference and quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Count your blessings while you may

The big or small, whichever comes your way

“Count Your Blessings” by Richard Morgan and Edith Temple

Last fall, I took a course on creating and maintaining a blog. After I shared my Thanksgiving dinner story with the other students, they encouraged me to use it for a post. Since we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, I’d like to share some of that story here.

My parents were joining us for Thanksgiving dinner, and so I cooked a turkey raised by Dad. That turkey was Goliath: he tipped the scales at 24.5 lb.

The microwave was too cramped for Goliath and he went right into the roasting pan. Sort of. Goliath lay on his side in the pan, covered in tin foil so his skin wouldn’t crisp up too quickly.

Trying to turn Goliath was a Herculean task. I wished I had roasting forks as I heaved Goliath onto his other side while my husband gripped the pan to keep it from shooting onto the floor. After six hours, Goliath finally fit in the pan. After I’d snapped off one wing and tossed it into the drippings, that is.

At long last, the turkey was ready. I heaved Goliath onto the platter to serve…three people, since my father had the flu and my parents stayed home.

That was one big turkey. We were thankful for our dinner and for the many containers of leftovers we put in the freezer that night.

Thankful and grateful and are words we don’t hear often these days. But I think we could be inspired by Henry Smith’s praise song “Give Thanks” to have a more thankful attitude:

Give thanks with a grateful heart,

give thanks to the Holy One;

give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, his

We can be thankful that we know about God’s love. That we have food, clothing and shelter. That we can spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones. And we can express our thanks by supporting our parish, donating to the food bank and outreach programs that help care for people in need, and welcoming extended family and friends into our homes for Thanksgiving dinner.

From the large (such as the ones I’ve mentioned) to the small (such as the fact that my husband fractured rather than broke his finger during his taekwon-do test), I pray that we would be grateful for the blessings in our lives and take time to count them and thank God for them.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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