Gratitude in all things
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by Stockbyte
Catholics are no strangers to a sense of gratitude.
As the psalmist wrote, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy (126:3).” The faithful continue to show thanksgiving to God in their daily lives and especially through the celebration of the Eucharist.
“A similar spirit of joy and thanksgiving should mark our own prayer as we recall the care which God has shown to us in the events of our lives, even those which seem dark and bitter,” Pope Benedict XVI said to an audience in October 2011.
He continued that Catholics should echo the song of the Virgin Mary found in the Gospel of Luke: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. … The Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name (1:46, 49).”
Expressions of gratitude are on the lips of many faithful in the Denver Archdiocese this Thanksgiving. Here is what some of them said via email.
In the midst of trouble
Kyle Dyer, the 9News anchor who recovered from an on-air dog bite to the face in February, said she’s thankful for God’s incredible presence in her life this year amidst the pain and multiple reconstructive surgeries.
“I have felt God’s grace at a time where I could easily doubt everything and ask ‘Why me?’ The Lord has reassured me to have complete faith and trust in him. ‘Thankful’ isn’t a strong enough word,” Dyer wrote.
Benedictine Mother Maria-Michael Newe, abbess of the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, also expressed gratitude for Christ’s presence and the gift of the Catholic Church. Without a chaplain on site, the sisters have relied on the kindness of priests who’ve traveled to bring the sacraments to them.
“Through it all, what I’m most grateful for is the gift of the Church and that Christ never abandoned us but is ever reaching out to us through the liturgy and the sacraments, (which) are constantly renewing us,” she said.
Faith, family and witness
Other local Catholic leaders first mentioned faith and family when asked about what they’re thankful for.
“We are always thankful for our faith, family and friends—this is an easy one,” said former state House Speaker Frank McNulty. “Shannon and I are expecting a little baby girl in March. We are so thankful and a bit nervous ... that we will be blessed with our first!”
Likewise, Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, the state level, public-policy arm of the Church, said she’s thankful for many things.
“But I am most thankful for my faith, and being able to practice it freely, my family, my friends and good health,” she wrote.
Local businessman Andy Newland, vice president of Denver-based Hercules Industries, also said he’s thankful for family. He recently accepted the Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Leadership Award for his and his family’s courageous stand for religious liberty by pursuing a lawsuit against the federal contraception mandate.
“Beyond that I’m very thankful for the new evangelization in Denver, which I think inspires me and my family to live our faith in our life,” he said. “I think of FOCUS (campus ministry) and Archbishop Chaput and the Augustine Institute. All those people and organizations are a blessing to me.”
Even the smaller things in life are a source of joy and gratitude to local Catholics.
Former Denver Nuggets player and coach Bill Hanzlik and his wife Maribeth, director of Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust, are thankful for the gift of their four children, two sons-in-law and granddaughter.
“On the ‘lighter side,’ we (especially Bill) are grateful that Notre Dame is still undefeated,” she wrote.
Life’s simple pleasures like chocolate, wine and good hair days are a source of thanksgiving for Anne Trujillo, Channel 7 anchor, who was recently diagnosed with alopecia areata, a rare condition that causes severe hair loss.
Her never-ending list of things she’s grateful for includes her husband and children, good health, happy home and, “I’m even grateful for green lights!” she wrote.
The students at Blessed Sacrament School in Denver expressed thanks for a multitude of things. Among their responses was this from fifth-grader Denton
Wilkinson, “Having a good teacher, Mrs. Vaeth, and not having as much homework as I did last year.”
God and the Church
New president of Regis University, Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, said he is most grateful to God, the Society of Jesus and the university, especially for those who gave him a warm welcome.
“Finally, my profound thanks go to the faculties and staff of the three colleges at Regis University for all they do to guide, teach and encourage our students to be women and men for and with others,” he said.
In reflecting on the last year, wife, mother and author Teresa Major and her husband, Jim, said that as a family, gratitude has not been their “strong suit.” However, they’ve found they’re most grateful for the Church, through which they’ve come to know God’s love.
“We could not face any of the problems in life—in our marriage, our home, our work, our country—without that faith, that knowledge that God loves us,” she said.
“Without that, we could not be grateful for any of the many other blessings the Lord has given us—a wonderful marriage, twelve beautiful children, having been raised in a great country. ... If it all ends tomorrow we already got more than we deserved!”