Giving Thanks Like the Saints
During a weekly meeting for the ministry team I am a part of we were asked to give a highlight after a year of working in a Catholic chaplaincy. In their highlights, the members of the team expressed their thanksgiving for the community and its influence on them. Hearing the very personal and blessed ways in which the Lord has been working in each of them and those they’ve encountered this year made my heart fill with joy and gratitude. The group I was sitting with felt closer than it ever had before. I was sitting with a family. When it came to my turn to share my highlight, however, I felt that my gratitude came up short. I had tried to say how I felt in the moment, but the words did not do my heart justice. No matter how many ways I tried to phrase and re-phrase my thanksgiving in my head, it felt more and more insufficient. How could I ever let the team know how thankful I am for them?
The next morning, the Lord put it on my heart to pray for each individual team member, thanking Him for the qualities they possess and how those differing characteristics have affected my own walk with Christ. It was in that cherished time of morning prayer, the streets outside my window still quiet, the spring sun streaming through and resting on the piles of books and notes from finals’ season, that I realized the greatest form of thanksgiving I could offer is through prayer. My words will never be enough, but in communication with God, in gratitude, somehow, I can express my love for others by thanking God for them. In whole-hearted prayer, we can take the time to thank and admire the graces the Lord has bestowed on us and use that time to honor the Lord by acknowledging his nearness to us at all times.
If prayer is seen as a means of communicating our praise and thanksgiving to God, why not sing a hymn after lunch for no special occasion? Why not mentally recite a few, “Jesus, I trust in You”’s in a trying situation? In prayer, we can be bold: asking for what we desire if it be His Will. We can be humble: allowing the Lord to guide our desires in accordance to His own perfect Will for us. We can be saints: someday, if only we turn to prayer throughout each day and entrust our lives to the Lord.
One of the ways in which I have grown in my prayer life is to turn to the saints. We have the privilege of knowing (or learning) how to ask for saints’ intercessions in the big and small. I hope to never lose the “fangirl” nature I have for learning about new saints. There are many saints out there to learn about, so what is it about a certain saint’s life that speaks to you? There may be a saint that captured your heart as a child who is now resurfacing in your life as an adult. When I picked my saint name for the sacrament of confirmation, I was drawn to St. Kateri Tekakwitha. She was still a “Blessed” at the time, and something about the fact that she was in the process of canonization just added to my excitement of choosing her name. If you are Catholic, you’ve probably heard someone you know say, “Let’s all pray for the canonization of _________”. We do this with the desire for others to know and love a saint that they could potentially relate to, a saint that could allow them to grow in a deeper relationship with Jesus and their faith. I was not the only Kateri in my confirmation group, and I realized that in her model and influence on others, she was affecting many, including those within my own parish.
The saints are our brothers and sisters in heaven. May we use their example to guide our hearts and minds continually in prayer, in abundant thanksgiving to God, for the rest of our lives.