Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and the story of his conversion following an injury from a cannonball reminds us that giving thanks and maintaining a positive attitude, trusting in God and not giving into despair despite tough circumstances, is how we should handle every trial in our life. We should also give thanks for these trials, because they cause us to grow in virtue and in our relationship with God, and they may even completely alter our lives and bring us to Him in the first place, as was the case with St. Ignatius. When we encounter hard times in our lives, how do we react? Do we turn to God in prayer and give thanks for the things we have and the opportunity to grow closer to Him, or do we give in to anger and frustration, even despair?
Fr. John Paul Mary, one of the friar priests at EWTN, offered some tips to remain grateful during our trials in his homily for this morning. He acknowledged that it can be hard to feel grateful when we are bogged down with our worries and our problems, but said that remaining grateful can be as simple as starting by looking down at our hands. We have fingers with which to touch and feel things. Then we can move on to our other senses. We have eyes to see with, a nose to smell with. We also have our mental capacities in order to think and reason. All of these things are given to us by God, and once we acknowledge them it can be easier to move on to bigger things that we can be grateful for. The roof over our heads, food on our table. We have family and friends who love and support us. All of this helps us realize that God has taken care of us in even our simplest needs and so we can have confidence that He will carry us through any trial that we may experience. We have only to trust Him and to continue to praise Him for what He has given us thus far in our lives.
St. Ignatius shows us how to take our trials and use them to grow closer to God and also how to be thankful through them. When we are grateful, it leads us to see how God works everywhere in our lives and so saves us from falling into despair or anger. If we feel ourselves giving into these emotions during our trials, we can ask for the intercession of St. Ignatius to help us see the good in them and to help us look beyond our problems to see the things that God has done in our lives for which we should be grateful.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!