A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘grief

At special times—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, a wedding, the birth of a child—giving thanks seems natural. Surrounded by family and friends, we recognize just how blessed we are.

And then there are the other times—the times when we feel worn down by a tough work week or a family situation or even world events, and gratitude seems out of reach and blessings hard to count.

In Psalm 50:14-15, 23*, we read these words:

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

and pay your vows to the Most High;

and call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”


“He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me;

to him who orders his way aright

I will show the salvation of God!”

God knows we go through challenging times, and yet he still calls us to offer “a sacrifice of thanksgiving” and honour him because he promises to hold us up and carry us through it all when we call on him:

Cast your burden on the LORD,

and he will sustain you;

he will never permit

the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

Even when we struggle and find it hard to be thankful, we are dear to him and he cares for us and longs for us to share with him what is in our hearts. Even when we feel broken and doubt our own abilities and worth, he never leaves us. He is always faithful, always merciful, always loving—and for that alone, he is always worthy of our praise and our thanks.

I pray that we would take time each day to give thanks for the blessings we’ve enjoyed, such as good health and the love of our family and friends, and the blessings of that day, no matter how small they might seem.

And blessed be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed be Your name

~ From “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)


My husband’s arguments to the contrary, I don’t think Die Hard is a Christmas movie; it’s a movie that happens to take place at Christmas. I think a Christmas movie has a main character who discovers the true meaning of Christmas or who receives a Christmas gift of love, forgiveness or compassion.

Some people, though, may not even want to think about watching one of the many schmaltzy holiday movies on TV right now, let alone debating whether they’re really Christmas films. I’m thinking of people who are grieving even as Christmas approaches.

Some of the hyper-festive holiday music on the radio might also be too much, I thought to myself as I listened to the laidback, jazzy soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas this morning. And the holiday lights and decorations and greeting cards? Too cheery.

Nanny's birthday

My mother with my grandmother on Nanny’s 80th birthday

I love everything about Christmas, but even I get a little sad sometimes while looking at the holiday treats—which seems silly, unless you knew that my mom’s mother loved receiving boxed chocolates as gifts, enjoyed an After Eight after Christmas dinner, and always gave my father a tin of cashews “From Santa.”

When life is on a relatively even keel and we’re looking forward to Christmas, it can be hard to remember that the holidays are challenging for some.

We could pause when we’re sending out cards and year-end letters to think about who might appreciate a thoughtful personal note more than a cheery greeting. For example, my mom, writing up her Christmas cards, realized that more low-key cards would be better for the three widowers on her card list, two of them facing Christmas as a single for the first time in decades.

We could give some thought as to which of our relatives, friends or neighbours might find themselves spending Christmas dinner alone because the spouse who did the cooking no longer lives there or has passed away. When I was growing up, after my dad’s mother died, his father spent Christmas Eve with us for a number of years.

We could also consider who might welcome a friendly visit as they struggle with the holidays—so focussed on children—because a child in their life has lost the battle with illness. Or who might appreciate a hand with their holiday preparations because they’re dealing with their own illness or that of a parent, a reality for many today as our population ages.

As we anticipate celebrating Christmas, may we be mindful of this prayer intention of the Holy Father for December:

That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.





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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