Digging Deeper into Christ: Gratitude in a Pandemic

How have you been blessed during this pandemic?

It has been hard for all, some more than others. Yet, it is also true that the Lord continues to rain down gifts even in the midst of it.

I asked my sister how her family has been blessed through it. She said the gift of more time has been wonderful. Evenings are free for a family game night, a movie or a walk around the block. She said despite all of the unknown, they have chosen to live in joy and hope, inspired by the words from the First Letter of John, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Rediscovering God's Gifts

Many of you can probably attest to a similar experience. This pandemic has helped shed light on what is most important. Hopefully, when we return to “normal,” some of these rediscovered gifts might continue to be present.

When we receive a gift, we are grateful, full of joy and surprise. A child unwrapping a Christmas or a birthday present is a great visual for this. Over time, our gifts seem to lose their “gift” status and no longer bring us the joy and surprise that we had.

But is there ever a time when a spouse or a child is not a gift? Is there ever a time when our life is not a gift? Is there ever a time when Jesus is not a gift? Is there ever a time when our faith and the sacraments are not gifts?

Perhaps one of the graces of these days is that the Lord is able to remind us of something very basic: “Look at the gifts I have given you. Have a renewed sense of wonder and joy at them.”

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. The word eucharist means thanksgiving. If we wish our families to be kindling for the fire of God’s love, if we wish them to live out their identity as a domestic Church, then thanksgiving must be a focal point of everyday life.

Witnesses of Gratitude

How can we be witnesses of gratitude? First, St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Do I give thanks in all circumstances? Even in the midst of a pandemic?

I encourage you to reflect on how the Lord has blessed you during these days. Be grateful to God and praise his name. This opens your heart to joy.

Second, be specific in your gratitude. This is the sign of a maturing faith. Write down in your prayer journal how God is blessing you, or share aloud with a family member what Jesus did for you today.

Third, love Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. Jesus is the One who is eternally grateful to the Father. If we want to imitate him, then our lives must too be constituted by gratitude.

Dig Deeply into Christ

I am reminded of a reflection from St. John of the Cross: “We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit…The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering.”

To dig deeper into Christ, to find the treasures that are waiting to be unearthed, we need to go through the thicket of the cross. We can focus on the thicket— or, with courage and trust, we can go through it and find the treasure: Jesus himself.

Practicing Thanksgiving Daily

REFLECT: Prayerfully consider the ways God has blessed you. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you acknowledge God’s gifts.

NAME SPECIFIC BLESSINGS: Write them in your prayer journal or share them aloud with a family member or friend.

THANK GOD: Praise God and give him thanks for these blessings.

CARRY YOUR THANKFULNESS EVERYWHERE: In particular, bring your gratitude to Jesus in the Eucharist.