Benedict XVI has given his final papal blessing, the doors of Castelgandolfo have been sealed, and the Swiss Guard has hung their halberds because there is no pope for them to guard. Now, the Church waits in prayerful anticipation of the upcoming conclave and the installation of a new pope who will lead the Catholic Church forward in these trying times. Our hearts are heavy with sadness, and perhaps also some anxiety, as we look toward a future that is at this moment uncertain. Who will guide us? Who next will sit in the Chair of St. Peter? What will the new pope be like? How will he govern? These are all questions spinning around in our heads now.
Our Lord promised us, when he promised St. Peter, that the Church will continue no matter what, and that no evil forces will be able to crush her entirely. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it,” he said. (Mt 16:18) Jesus’ promises are true; he is incapable of lying. In spite of the controversies, threats, and turmoil of these present days, the Church will go on, and so will we, by the grace of God.
In this time “between popes,” it’s fitting to stop and focus on the positive and to offer our gratitude to God for all that he has given us – for eight years with Benedict XVI, for the many clergy and religious who are holy and strive to live exemplary lives, for the strength of the sacraments, for those who work tirelessly for peace and justice, for those who fight for the dignity of all human beings and the sanctity of marriage and family, for those who generously give of themselves in parish and diocesan ministries, for our spouses, our children, our extended family and our friends…and the list could go on and on.
This is indeed a fine time for appreciating all that we do have, and for maintaining a demeanor of joy, thankfulness, and resolve. The Church isn’t in the Holy Father’s hands, at least not singularly. It’s in all our hands, and we must carry on alone for the moment, but then at the side of the new pope. To celebrate this hour, I’ve put together a list of twelve quotes that might help us to remain grateful now and in the future. Here they are. Enjoy!
- “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
- “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
- “Learn, too, to be grateful. May all the wealth of Christ’s inspiration have its shrine among you; now you will have instruction and advice for one another, full of wisdom, now there will be psalms, and hymns, and spiritual music, as you sing with gratitude in your hearts to God. Whatever you are about, in word and action alike, invoke always the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, offering your thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:16-17
- “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
- “A man wanted to do evil, but first prayed as usual; and finding himself prevented by God, he was then extremely thankful.” – St. Mark the Ascetic
- “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
- “Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards this Divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us, in deigning to accept our help to make Him known, loved and honored; He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work.” – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
- “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” – WIlliam James
- “But it was not so much the sorrows of his Passion which saddened and embittered the life of our Redeemer, as the sight of all the sins which men would commit after his death. These were the cruel executioners which made him live in continual agony, oppressed by such an overwhelming grief that pain alone would have been enough to make him die of pure sorrow. Father Lessius says that the sight alone of the ingratitude of mankind would have been sufficient to make Jesus Christ die of grief a thousand times.” – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguor
- “So great a love on the part of Mary deserves our gratitude, and that gratitude should be shown by at least meditating upon and pitying her in her sorrow. But she complained to Saint Bridget that very few did so, and that the greater part of the world lived in forgetfulness of them: ‘I look around at all who are on earth, to see if by chance there are any who pity me, and meditate upon my sorrows; and I find that there are very few. Therefore, my daughter, though I am forgotten by many, at least do thou not forget me; consider my anguish, and imitate, as far as thou canst, my grief.'” – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
- “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus
- “See, My daughter, whether thou canst find a father whose love for his only son has prompted him to take care of him or to show him such tender proofs of his love as I have given and will yet give thee of Mine; for from thy earliest years My love has borne kindly with thee, and has trained and formed thee after My own Heart, awaiting thee patiently without growing weary of all thy resistance.Know, therefore, that if ever thou shouldst forget the gratitude thou owest Me and shouldst not refer the glory of everything to Me, thou wouldst thereby, as regards thyself, dry up this inexhaustible source of all good.” – The Lord, to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque