• November 11, 2017

Giving Thanks for Providence

This November we cel­e­brate yet again Thanksgiving Day, which dates from 1789, when George Washington pro­claimed “a day of public thanks­giving and prayer to be observed by acknowl­edging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God… [and] the signal and man­i­fold mer­cies, and the favor­able inter­po­si­tions of his Providence…” In honor of this day of giving thanks, Romano Guardini invites us to dwell a moment on the meaning of Divine Providence:

There are moments when we sud­denly and directly appre­hend the incom­pre­hen­sible, over­whelming fact that we are. Despite the tribu­la­tions and bur­dens of life it still remains a great grace and wonder that we are allowed to breathe, to feel, to think, to love and to act – in short, to live. And that things exist: the jug on the table, the tree in the field, the land­scape around us, and the sun in the sky; and that other people also exist: this person whom I love, that other one who is in my care. In those moments one real­izes that nothing can be taken for granted; that every­thing has the hall­mark of free gift and of grace; that one must give thanks for every­thing.

Providence means some­thing quite out of this world – that the living God is per­son­ally con­cerned with every single human being and ready to look after him… The mes­sage of Providence demands some­thing very great of man: that he should make the care for God’s Kingdom the prime care of his life. It promises some­thing equally great: that the events which take place around him occur in a very spe­cial way and shape an exis­tence which is deter­mined by God’s care for his par­tic­ular good.

Prayer is also the best oppor­tu­nity for learning the acid test of faith in Providence, namely the accep­tance of dif­fi­culty and pain. As long as things go our way or trou­bles are expe­ri­enced merely as obsta­cles that strengthen our resolve, it is easy enough to believe that every­thing is being guided by prov­i­den­tial love.

The great­ness of the demand becomes apparent when our vision and will are left in the dark and there seems to be no sense or meaning in what is hap­pening. This is the time for the vic­tory of our faith, which con­quers the world. That faith puts its trust in the word of God that every­thing which hap­pens is within His Providence even though we cannot feel it. It main­tains that behind the apparent con­fu­sion there is a plan, behind loss a gain which cannot yet be rec­og­nized, and that through all the trouble some­thing valid is devel­oping. This “yes” to God’s wisdom and power is learnt in prayer. By con­stant attempts the heart sin­cerely, gen­er­ously and coura­geously prac­tices this affir­ma­tion to the mys­tery working of God’s love.

Extracts from “The Art of Praying” by Romano Guardini

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