By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 22, 2012
Each year I thank God for my comfortable home, my dear husband and our many friends. But since I know all these could be taken away in the blink of an eye, I’m most deeply grateful for something I know I’ll have forever—and this is my Catholic faith. Here are my reasons for gratitude:
Confession. In my younger years, when it came to confession, I sometimes sought out priests who were hard of hearing. Today the challenge is finding the humility to go. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to mention their flaws aloud to another human being. But I’m always grateful when I leave the confessional, knowing deep inside that Jesus has given me a new start.
Pro-life. At one time, all the major Christian religions agreed on the sanctity of life and the terrible tragedy of abortion. Sadly, today many Protestant denominations have changed their position, while the Catholic faith remains a steadfast protector of human life from conception through natural death. I also thank God for PATH, a ministry that helps men and women who have been through an abortion experience God’s mercy, and Birthright, which gives emotional and financial support to people in crisis pregnancies.
Faithful priests. I’ve been very blessed on my religious journey with a long line of faithful priests who knew Catholic theology and taught it clearly. They have also been compassionate and joyful and have truly acted “in the person of Christ” at Mass and in all aspects of life. I’m especially grateful for dedicated priests who are courageous enough to defend Catholic teachings, especially about the precious life of unborn children and the sanctity of marriage, at a time when many people are trying to tear these teachings apart.
Tradition. I’m grateful for being a member of an apostolic church, meaning we trace our roots back to St. Peter and the other apostles. It’s wonderful to realize that our beliefs and traditions come to us from the earliest Christians.
The Mass. When Catholics worship the Lord, we know a certain orderly routine will be followed. Although some wordings are now changing to reflect a more accurate translation of the original Latin, the order of the Mass remains the same. This means we can travel anywhere in the world, and even if we can’t speak the language, we can be assured there will be a standard format. In a world where technology is constantly changing the ways we communicate with each other, it’s a great comfort to know the Mass remains the same—and we are still petitioning God through the prayers of our ancestors.
Gregorian chant. Thank God for the mellifluous tones of the chants, those lovely, ancient prayers with a deeply mystical dimension. I especially love the O Antiphons, which are traditionally chanted before Christmas, starting Dec. 17, and going through Christmas Eve. Each O antiphon praises Jesus in a different way, calling him “Wisdom,” “Rising Sun,” “Root of Jesse,” and other beautiful titles.
The saints. The holy people who have gone before us give Catholicism a richness and depth and provide models for us to follow. For those who are contemplative in nature, there is St. Teresa of Avila. For those yearning to follow the path of humility and simplicity, there is St. Francis of Assisi. As Catholic author Peter Kreeft so eloquently puts it, the saints are little windows to Christ, each one revealing a different facet of the Lord’s divine face.
At heart, the image of glimpsing Christ nicely summarizes the deepest treasures of Catholicism. Whether it is the Real Presence, the chants or the shining examples of the saints, we are reminded constantly of our ultimate destination—which is one day having the chance to thank the Lord face-to-face for all these blessings.