by Joannie Watson | February 25, 2022 1:00 am
“There is always a reason to give thanks. Some days, the reasons are harder to see. But every day, a choice faces us: to complain or to give thanks.”
While I was looking over the Sunday Mass readings for this upcoming eighth week in Ordinary Time, an unmistakeable voice came to my mind as I read the Responsorial Psalm. I did not actually hear the voice, but I could not read the words without hearing them in a booming, deep Polish voice.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name Most High. (Ps 92:2)
The voice of Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, the saint, the Pope, the father, the shepherd, the voice and eyes and smile connected to so many memories of my youth.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord.
In 1999, Radio Vaticana produced an album called Abba Pater, which wove the audio of homilies and speeches of John Paul II together with music. I am sure it is not to everyone’s taste, but I realize now how certain aspects of the album are woven throughout my consciousness. Certain tracks bring me that comfort you feel when a familiar song comes on the radio – and you’re immediately taken back to a time or a place, transported back to a time as if it was a soundtrack in a movie.
Thanks to the memories of this album, certain phrases and Scripture verses now leap off the page in his voice. I could not tell you the track, and I might not be able to remember the rest of it. But that line- it’s in his voice.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord.
I like that I hear it in his voice. In that voice, I can hear his smile. I can hear in that voice the crinkle on the edges of his eyes, eyes which are sparkling with both mischief and kindness. It is a line that is both difficult and vital in the Christian life. So I need to hear it with the warmth of that man that suffered so much but gave thanks with his whole being.
The Psalmist does not say “It is good to give thanks when you are happy with what the Lord has done,” nor does he say, “you should sing praise when the Lord blesses you.” There are no qualifiers on the instruction. It is good to give thanks. It is good to praise. Always.
Perhaps it is a time in your life right now when it is easy to praise. Prayer comes easily, and you simply sit back and marvel at the Lord’s goodness. It is easy to “proclaim [His] love at daybreak,” because you can feel it. It is easy to speak of His “faithfulness in the night” because you have evidence of it. Rejoice! Tell others about His goodness. Live in gratitude.
Maybe it is a time in your life when there doesn’t seem to be reason to praise. You are struggling in prayer, and when it does come from your lips, it is full of petitions and questions. It is difficult to feel his love because the crosses seem so heavy and life seems unfair. You tell yourself the Lord is faithful, but those words you repeat to yourself seem to be spoken out of an intellectual reminder of a truth you are clinging onto, rather than a spontaneous statement from the heart. Rejoice! Tell others about His goodness. Live in gratitude.
Even in the darkness, even in the confusion, the Lord is there. And He is faithful. You may have more questions than answers, but He is in control. He may be silent, but He is working.
As Padre Pio reminds us, “I do not know what will happen to me; I only know one thing for certain, that the Lord will never fall short of His promises.”
There is always a reason to give thanks. There is always a reason to praise. Some days, the reasons are harder to see. But every day, a choice faces us: to complain or to give thanks. The Lord is your rock. It is good to give thanks to the Lord. I hope you can hear it in the strong voice of that man who suffered much, but loved much.
Image: Photo by Terry Tan De Hao on Unsplash
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