Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving: Love, Gratitude and the Meaning of Life

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (

Around tables throughout America families will gather to thank God and express their love to one another on this day of gratitude.

(Pictured: Chiara Lubich and the late Servant of God John Paul II)'Our giving opens the hands of God and He, in his providence, fills us with such an abundance that we can give again, and give more, and then receive again, and in this way we can meet the immense needs of many.' (Chiara Lubich)

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Chiara Lubich was the beloved foundress of the Focolare movement, one of the “ecclesial movements” which are growing and flourishing within the Catholic Church around the world as the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church. The modern Pope’s have called these predominantly lay movements the “finger of God” for this new missionary age. The late Servant of God John Paul II liked to call the ecclesial movements “signs of a springtime of world missions".

Chiara was born on January 22, 1920 and went home to the Lord on March 14, 2008. Those who knew her say that she lived her life animated by love and in a constant attitude of thanksgiving. Inspired by her heroic virtue, men and women were drawn closer to Jesus Christ and, in Him, into a deep relationship with one another to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus. This movement spread to more than 180 countries and had 140,000 members and 2.1 million affiliates at the time of her death. She was 88 years young, still in love with Jesus and filled with joy.

It was Chiara’s intimate relationship with the Lord which gave her the grace to love as He loves. It was also the source of her continual gratitude. It can be that way with each one of us. A readiness to give thanks in all circumstances - and for everything and everyone - is a sign of holiness in the lives of so many of the great saints and heroes of the Christian tradition.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the United States; I want to share a few of her words to inspire us all as we gather to give thanks:

“Yes, love makes us be. We exist because we love. If we don’t love, and every time we don’t love, we are not, we do not exist. There’s nothing left to do but to love, without holding back. Only in this way will God give himself to us and with him will come the fullness of his gifts.Let us give concretely to those around us, knowing that by giving to them we are giving to God. Let’s give always; let’s give a smile, let’s offer understanding, and forgiveness. Let’s listen, let’s share our knowledge, our availability; let’s give our time, our talents, our ideas, our work; let’s give our experience, our skills; let’s share our goods with others so that we don’t accumulate things and everything circulates. Our giving opens the hands of God and He, in his providence, fills us with such an abundance that we can give again, and give more, and then receive again, and in this way we can meet the immense needs of many.”

This beautifully simple yet profound truth was also regularly expressed by the late Servant of God John Paul II. In his 1979 Encyclical Letter “The Redeemer of Man” he put it this way:

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created.” (Par. 10)

The Feast we celebrate on the U.S. Holiday called Thanksgiving reveals that there really is no separation between the secular and the spiritual. After all, God is the Creator of all and the Author of life. He is the source of all that is good - whether He is acknowledged to be so or not. As the beloved disciple John wrote “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” We will grow in love today as we express it. We will reach out to one another and to the less fortunate. When we do we participate in the love of God. We will give thanks today, for all the great gifts we have received. As we do, we draw His presence more deeply into our life together. Love and gratitude are the keys to unlocking the deeper meaning of life.


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