A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘luck

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.)

fingers crossed

Keeping your fingers crossed

rosary in hand

Praying to God

I think there are three basic approaches to life.

The first is to believe that your future depends on “the universe” or on your luck, good or bad. You carry a good-luck charm to help you win the big game or consult your horoscope to find out what the day will hold. But how comforting is it to think that forgetting to bring your good-luck charm or follow your horoscope to the letter could hurt you?

The second is to believe that you’re in complete control of your future. You have a long-term plan and, if you follow it carefully, everything will fall into place. But as a poet named Robert Burns pointed out, the best-laid plans often fail to work out.

The first two approaches have a lot of supporters. We know that minor hiccups (traffic jams, rain on the day of a picnic, a stain on our favourite shirt) and major disruptions (job loss, serious illness, loss of loved ones) happen to us and those we love, and often with little warning. And so we long for life to unfold exactly according to our hopes and plans.

Notice that I said our plans. But this is where the third approach comes in. To take this approach is to “let go and let God” and believe that God is in control.

I think it’s a path worth following. Consider the alternative: if we make a decision or guide our children in their decision to marry a certain person or pursue a given career without praying for guidance first, we might miss out on the spouse or the career God has planned for us…or lead our children to do the same.

Recognizing that God is in control—and we’re not—might seem scary. But we can take comfort in the fact that God has good plans for each of us, as he tells us in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)

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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