Here we are at that wonderful family celebration dedicated to giving thanks and praise. Not only is the feeling of love stronger during these special days, it permeates everything we say and do.
As for me, I am thankful for my faith, my guardian angel, and my family. I believe that the blessings of this season begin with the awareness that everything in my life, and everyone else’s, is gifted to us by a loving Father who only asks for our love, obedience, and trust in return.
Looking beyond our family of children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends, we see expressions of this season in the stories of courage, dedication, and steadfastness that are ever present to each of us who are dedicated to defending human dignity. One such story is that of pro-life leader Walter B. Hoye II and his loving treatment of a woman and her baby girl. Through his compassion, he has singlehandedly helped renew an awareness that every life is precious. His consistent ministry to this loving mother struggling with the reality that her precious baby, Khya, was going home to be with God—after fighting so desperately to live—brought tears of sorrow and gratitude to many hearts.
Khya’s struggles were not in vain, nor were the sacrifices of her young mother, Stephanie. Khya’s brief life reminds each of us that the dignity of a single human being can never be denied for any reason. Every human being—without exception—exists because of God’s love. As Pope John Paul II taught in the Gospel of Life, “The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth . . . is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of His presence, a trace of His glory.”
Human existence and its indisputable integrity are not negotiable, though in our day and age many would disagree. We hear words like “freedom of choice” and “constitutional right” being applied to life and death questions. Many of us often shrink from debating the falsehoods integral to these phrases for fear that we might offend someone or seem intolerant. And, sadly, this hesitancy is exactly what the enemy expects.
Pope Francis spoke of this very tendency of people today who are tempted to embrace conformity to the world’s expectations rather than remain faithful to God and His will. The pope called this the “fruit of the devil,” saying that this spirit of worldliness cannot coexist with faithfulness to God.
Sadly, the more our culture falls prey to these contradictions, the more inclined we become to lose the liberties we now take for granted. Not only is respect for human dignity at risk in such a climate, but the very essence of human freedom itself grows ever dimmer.
This is so because there is no freedom without humble acceptance of the Lord and His will. Christ makes this very clear: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This Thanksgiving, as we express gratitude for all the blessings before us, let us begin our prayers of thanks with an acknowledgment that, in God and through Christ, His Son, we find and are grateful for true freedom—a freedom that allows us to see each person in our midst as images of the face and the love of God.
All praise and all thanksgiving to you, Oh God!