Tag Archives: gratitude

Thanksgiving: Not just a holiday, but a command

A guest post from Steven Broiles, former high school teacher, now a voice-over artist and cab-driver in New York City.

Steven Broiles

THANKSGIVING: A Holiday and a Command

By Steven Broiles

I returned home from my freshman year at Boys Town in 1971. That Thanksgiving, CBS had a news report about a high school girl who won a prize for her Thanksgiving essay. (She read it on air). The question she asked was, “What do we have to be thankful for?” She went on to list the reasons against gratitude—a never-ending war in Viet Nam, political corruption, a high crime rate, inflation and all the rest.

Well, here we are, 44 years later, and we have TWO never-ending wars and more turmoil than it seems we can handle. And from the looks of it, we’re about to be drawn into a conflagration with Russia. Suffice it to say, things do not look good.

So what do we have to be grateful for? Most of us will stuff our faces, get drunk, go to bed and join the hordes of shoppers on Black Friday. Thanksgiving has devolved into a feast of gluttony and consumerism gone mad!

But I have stopped to think about my own situation and how thoughtless I have been. Every day is like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”: Wake up, go to work, come home and eat, drink a six-pack, and go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We have an obligation to be grateful. Gratitude is not merely a virtue; It is a command. As I have said before, I believe I have a spiritual condition known as acedia. I have been told I am intelligent and articulate. But I cannot seem to break out of my rut. Every day is the same. There is a certain sadness at the work required to improve my situation. Then there is the sadness at the opportunity to do that work! It’s “damned if I do and damned if I don’t!”

And from the news I’ve been watching, the talk shows I’ve been listening to and the customers I have in my Uber car, it seems to me that most people are suffering from the same condition of acedia, to a greater or lesser degree. People can tell what is wrong with the country, or the City of New York, or their own situations. They say great things or have good ideas, but they can’t seem to do anything about it. People, myself included, seem to be crippled by indecision.

It seems to me as if almost everyone, at least as a corporate whole, has been beaten down to a state of demoralization, not quite on the state of despair, but seemingly hopeless, nonetheless. Not to be grotesque, but it is like nausea! For all of my Catholic education and all the sermons I have heard for over 50 years, I’ve heard a lot of things. But I have never heard the word “acedia.” If I had, I would have remembered it. The closest thing I have ever heard similar to it is “sloth.”

But then I thought about it. WHO is the author of confusion? WHO is the author of indecision? WHO is the author of despair? Of the resulting spiritual dry rot and cynicism? Certainly it is NOT God who wills these things. It is NOT God who creates and nurtures this spiritual torpor, this feeling of being stuck in a straightjacket! Is it no wonder I have been stuck in this attitude, and go about it, day after day? Is it no wonder I cannot seem to get out of this rut and transcend my problems?

I thought of the Serenity Prayer, and how it is a call to ACTION. “God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.” My past unwillingness to do what this prayer says is the cause of the prolonging of my problems! It is an accountant’s prayer: I have to stop the chatter inside of my head. And I have to identify those things I cannot do anything about. (Fortunately, that list is rather short.) Then I have to identify those things I CAN do something about, or at least what I can do about my own situation. And I have to make my plan and stick to it, not being discouraged by the length of time it will take to achieve those things I have to achieve. Long story short: I make a T-account—a sheet of paper with a vertical line down the middle. The left column is the negative column, and the right column is the positive one.
And I have to bear in mind that my imagination can be my own worst enemy—of how easy it is for me to dwell on the negative and get carried away with it.

This is what I look for when I am listening to other people, whether they’re in my car or on the internet. Going negative is really easy. I think we’re all prone to it. God knows there is plenty going on right now to be negative about. And then I think about the logical conclusion to negativity gone mad: It ends in the insane asylum or in suicide!

I think that the daily exercise of the Serenity Prayer leads me to gratitude. We are COMMANDED by God to pray for our own affairs. So we stop everything and identify what we have to endure. Then we identify what we can do about it. We stop our wild imagination and its catastrophizing and get ahold of ourselves. And then we have gratitude for being able to do this much. We feel gratitude for the ability to endure another day, another problem, for the ability to think clearly. And that gratitude propels us into the next day.

My friend Eric was very kind in allowing me to keep my boxes of books in his house when I moved out of my apartment shortly after 9/11. I got those boxes out of his garage this past summer. I kept a few of those books—a very few. One of the philosophers I used to read was Gabriel Marcel, who wrote “Creative Fidelity.” (I gave the book away: I placed the boxes of books—one or two boxes a day—on the stoop to the house. People would come by and take what they wanted.) Marcel has said that there are problems and then there are mysteries, and that one of the problems he noticed in life is how we treat everything as if it is a problem. Then we treat each other as if the other person is a problem. Then we wind up treating ourselves as if we are a problem! The answer, he opined, is to look at life and our participation of it as a mystery, and to participate in that mystery.

This is what I think is our primary spiritual problem—a lack of gratitude. We have been and are very fortunate, despite what we must endure. And things do not look good. Let us practice gratitude and count on it to get us through things. Let us not wind up like a certain Presidential candidate (cough! cough!) who insists upon “being treated fairly”! Let us continue to be grateful for what we have—and what we have been spared—and participate in the Mysteries of our Catholic Faith.

Let me always remember that Our Lord told His Apostles, before He Ascended into Heaven, “Behold! I have overcome the World.” Let us always employ the Serenity Prayer as the Road to Sanity and Gratitude!

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday and in the days ahead.

Sunday Devotional: Be joyful! as He is joyful

Psalm 126:1-3, 5-6

When the Lord restored the captives of Zion,
we thought we were dreaming.
Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord had done great things for them.”
Those who sow in tears
will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves.

Laughing Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Blue Tit-Blaumeise3

What is joy?

Joy is not happiness. Joy is not based upon whether things are going well or not. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience — or not.

St. Paul tells us joy is one of the fruits or the results of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (1 Thess 1:6; Rom 14:17). Which is why we can be joyful even in the midst of great trials and suffering.

Joy helped our Lord Jesus Christ endure the cross: “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

So be joyful! Praise the Lord, and let your heart burst with joy!

May the joy and peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!


“Thank You!”


My mother and father raised me to always be thankful for the gifts that God has given me.  I remember them telling me that God knows everything that you need and to never forget to thank Him.  My mother and father also taught me “manners” and how to be gracious, kind and generous to people, that this was so very important.  And in teaching me manners, included was the need to thank others when they have done something for me in whatever capacity.  I remember listening to them intently, with my eyes gazing up at them, and truly, I tried to implement thankfulness in my life.

In September of 2006, during the Sacrament of Confession, a wonderful priest told me “To thank God in all things and situations, to praise God in all things and situations, to remember to live in the mystery of His Cross and to live in the present.”  He told me that no matter what happens, even if it is evil, that a greater good would come from it and to submit all circumstances to God, asking for his help and direction, to be the best person I could be, to be an excellent soldier for Christ and to ask to do His Will.  Every day I have remembered this counsel, at its heart being thanksgiving and praise to God, willing to submit to Him in all the circumstances of life, to actually “be” the person He has made.

Indeed and in fact, the term, “Eucharist”, the central act of Christian worship, the Mass, is a Greek word which means, “thanksgiving,” because through its institution by Jesus, He “gave thanks” to His Father  (Mt. 26: 26-28):

While they were eating , Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is My body.”  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the new covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”

The Mass is the supreme act of Christian thanksgiving, the celebration of the Eucharist, from Jesus instituting this Sacrament in or about 33 A.D., to the present time, December 22, 2012 and on forward.  It is noteworthy here that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in avid constancy, gave thanks to the Father and asked that this supreme Thanksgiving, be done in remembrance of Him.

I love listening to the Gospel that involved Jesus healing the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19:

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  As he was entering a village, ten lepers met Him.  They stood at a distance from Him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master!  Have pity on us!”  And when He saw them, He said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jeus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?  Then He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” 

Clearly, Jesus takes notice of the leper who thanked Him, but He also takes notice of the nine lepers who did not thank Him.

Being thankful to God from the heart, soul, mind, intellect and will is a wonderful necessity that frees us from ourselves, our egos, wherein we learn how to be “little” and how to recognize Jesus in disguise, how to help our neighbors, the people that we are involved with in our own Calcuttas.  Thankfulness is liberating and essential for happiness, and above all, it is essential for holiness, it is essential to becoming a Saint and it is essential in loving our neighbors.  We should want to be Saints, friends of God living in Heaven with Him, seeing the Triune God, face to face.  This should be our ultimate goal over any other goal.

dear God

In spite of how wonderful it is to be thankful, there are actually people in this world who avoid being thankful and who spurn being thankful as something that is beneath them.  Since I have been involved in Fellowship of the Minds (FOTM) as a writer, I have made it a point to thank the writers, especially Dr. Eowyn, the owner and administrator of this blog, for the specific communications I have read, which incudes the effort, research and thought that goes into the various posts.  In this capacity on FOTM, I have learned that many people are not thankful and actually make it a point to condemn thankfulness.  One commenter called me “comical” because I “thank” so much, also calling me a “butt kisser.”  I laughed, because if you know me, you know that this would never be a description of me.  It really is funny.  But I thought about why would someone make such comments about being thankful?  I came to the conclusion that once again, the sin of narcissism and pride is the cause of such a stupid disdain for being “thankful”, and that people who do not appreciate or thank have chosen darkness and their own glory as their light, instead of the Light of Christ and the light of goodness that we experience in being thankful to each other.  Such people need our prayers as they must be very unhappy and do not know themselves.  For if you know yourself, you would then realize why it is necessary to be thankful.

So, as I say almost every day to my dear Sister of choice, Dr. Eowyn, the leader of this Fellowship, “Thank you, Dr. Eowyn, for everything you do for us, for everything that you do for your neighbors that you do know and for your neighbors that you do not know.  Thank you for your research and the accompanying brilliance and scholarly enlightenment that helps us to understand what is true and what is not true.”  And, to all of my fellow writers, I extend my utmost thanks for everything that you do as well to be Soldiers for the Triune God, to point out evil and to point out good, all servants of the Truth, which is Jesus, a Person.  And most of all, I thank you, most Supreme and Loving Triune God!  Thank You!


We Will Never Forget You

In honor of all the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for us…

And their families…

Design by BKeyser, an ex Marine.

Freedom Is Not Free

Author Unknown

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in a crowd.

I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many had died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?Patriotic - Flag at sunset
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of mothers and the wives,Patriotic - Fallen but not forgotten
Of fathers, sons and husbands
with interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington…
No, freedom is not free.

Happy Thanksgiving! / Open Thread below

Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved holidays in America. But unlike other secular holidays like Labor Day or the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is a national holiday that is explicitly religious in nature.

In 1789, in his first year in office, President George Washington called for a day of Thanksgiving because —

“it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

In 1815, President James Madison issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness.” After Madison, however, Thanksgiving reverted to a regional celebration in New England for 48 years.

In 1863, magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale petitioned the Lincoln administration that “a day of Thanksgiving now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.” President Abraham Lincoln called on Americans that year to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore if, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

As a nation of faith, Americans have set aside this day to thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed.

We of the Fellowship of the Minds want to take this occasion to thank all our readers and especially our faithful regular commenters who contribute so much to our Fellowship with their trenchant observation, insight, righteous outrage, and wit.

Despite the corruption, incompetence, and decay of our government, we are grateful to be living in still the greatest country in the world. That is precisely why the Fellowship of Minds was founded nearly 2 years ago — as a small but fierce Voice of Opposition to the systematic and deliberate destruction of our beloved America.

Above all, we are grateful to the magnificent, loving, and most awesome Triune God for everything He has graced us with:

Food on our tables; a roof over our heads; clothing for our bodies; family and friends; productive work; soldiers who secure our freedom with their lives; the courage of our convictions; and the gift of life.

God bless you, and may God bless America,

~Eowyn and all the writers of the Fellowship

P.S. I know things are pretty bad these days, but please share with us just one thing you are thankful for. Also we would like your funniest/worst Thanksgiving story.

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless to all.


They Once Were Giants


As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away..

I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.

I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man.. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying: ‘You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.’ And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine.

He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, ‘Looks like you’re having a problem.’

He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself, and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went I inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, ‘What outfit did you serve with?’

He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye’s to his wife.

I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking ex act ly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.

For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written:‘Congressional Medal of Honor Society.’

I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help.
He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence.

Remember, old men like him gave you freedom for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them.

If you don’t stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them! Freedom isn’t free. Thousands have paid the price, so that you can enjoy what you have today.

H/t my dear friend Bill.


A Vietnamese Immigrant Thanks God He’s American

On Saturday, July 24th, 2010, the town of Prescott Valley, AZ, hosted a Freedom Rally. Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means.

A Vietnamese refugee, Mr. Nguyen immigrated to this country in 1975, where he eventually founded an advertising and marketing company, Caddis Advertising, with offices in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, and Prescott Valley, AZ. He is also a talented oil and watercolor painter (see his website here).

This is Mr. Nguyen’s speech, which he dedicated to all Vietnam veterans. Notice that he refers to himself as an American, not a hyphenated Vietnamese-American. How good it’d be if all immigrants—no, EVERYONE— felt like Quang Nguyen.

H/t my friend Bob W.


Proud to be an American

35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.

I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.

If you hadn’t noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable with my people.

I am a proud U.S. citizen and here is my proof. It took me 8 years to get it, waiting in endless lines, but I got it and I am very proud of it.

I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the U.S.A. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California . It was a miracle from God.

If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.

This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience.

In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

Fast forwarding:  somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21-year old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.

One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said yes. I shook and held his hand. The grown man’s eyes began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.

You see, America is not a place on the map, it isn’t a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must buy into this concept, and most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.

Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the Internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the U.S. Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.

A t this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all.

Quang Nguyen

Creative Director/Founder

Caddis Advertising, LLC