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Summary: For the fact that Mother Josephine proclaimed that I was good for nothing, thank you. For the sarcasm of the Mother Superior: her harsh voice, her injustices, her irony and for the bread of humiliation, thank you.

Thanksgiving

What did one turkey say to the other when they saw the Pilgrims? They look nice. Maybe they’ll have us over for dinner.

Over the past two decades, much of the research on happiness can be boiled down to one main prescription: give thanks. It increases positive emotions, reduces the risk of depression, heighten relationships, and increases resilience.

The Leper said, “Thank you,” Jesus. The return of this leper to give thanks at the feet of Jesus implies his conversion. His eternal salvation is equated with his thanks to Jesus.

And notice that when he discovered that he was cured, he turns back, praising God in a loud voice. He did not yet carry out the command to show himself to the priests. He spontaneously went right back to Jesus to give thanks.

1).George Aschenbrenner, SJ, says that welling up in the consciousness and experience of each of us are two spontaneities, one good and one bad. So often the quick-witted, loose-tongued person who can be so entertaining and at the center of attention has to sift through these spontaneous urges to see if their spontaneity tends towards God and is thus from the good spirit, or is the spontaneity not congruent with holiness and Christ-like behavior and thus speaks to us our need for a deeper conversion.

By looking at our interior moods, feelings, and urges, which are the “spirits” that must be sifted through, we can tell which ones come from the good spirit or bad spirit. For example, St. Ignatius of Loyola was able to find God whenever he wished, at what whatever hour, though a test for congruence of his interior impulses, moods or feelings to see if it came from his true self. If it did, then he knew was God’s word to him at that instant.

And if Ignatius could not find his congruent self in Christ, then he recognized the interior impulse as an “evil spirit” and he experienced God helping him go against that impulse. What comes from our true self in Christ leads to feeling peace, joy, and love. What is from the bad spirt leads to desolation.

When we pray to God for Spirit-guided insight into our life we get this growing, appreciative insight into the mystery of who we are in Christ, and to see ourselves how God sees us, and we start to see each day all the gifts and graces that God gives us. We begin to see how spiritually poor we are, in a good way, and how gifted we are in our uniqueness. Life itself, by this practice called the Examen, becomes a humble, joyful thanksgiving.

2). Give thanks for the bad too--

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you i Christ Jesus.”

St. Bernadette of Lourdes also knew the value of giving thanks for everything, especially the sufferings and humiliations, as she shows us in her testament of gratitude. In her words:

-For the poverty in which my mother and father lived, for the failure of the mill, all the-hard times, for the awful sheep, for constant tiredness, thank you, my God!

-Thank you, my God, for the prosecutor and the police commissioner, for the policemen, and for the harsh words of Father Peyramale!

-For the days in which you came, Mary, for the ones in which you did not come, I will never be able to thank you…only in Paradise.

-For the slap in the face, for the ridicule, the insults, and for those who suspected me for wanting to gain something from it, thank you, my Lady.

-For my spelling, which I never learned, for the memory that I never had, for my ignorance and for my stupidity, thank you.

-For the fact that my mother died so far away, for the pain I felt when my father instead of hugging his little Bernadette called me, “Sister Marie-Bernard”, I thank you, Jesus.

-For the fact that Mother Josephine proclaimed that I was good for nothing, thank you. For the sarcasm of the Mother Superior: her harsh voice, her injustices, her irony and for the bread of humiliation, thank you.

-Thank you that I was the privileged one when it came to be reprimanded, so that my sisters said, “How lucky it is not to be Bernadette.”

-Thank you for the fact that it is me, who was the Bernadette threatened with imprisonment because she had seen you, Holy Virgin; regarded by people as a rare animal; that Bernadette so wretched, that upon seeing her, it was said, “Is that it?”

-For this miserable body which you gave me, for this burning and suffocating illness, for my decaying tissues, for my de-calcified bones, for my sweats, for my fever, for my dullness and for my acute pains, thank you, my God.

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