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‘Thank You, Thank You, My God!’: A Story of Grace, Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Claire Dwyer

Due to COVID-19 and other challenges, 2020 will have a unique place in history books because of its trials and tribulations. 

Thus, when the 2020 calendar tells us that it is time to feel gratitude, to count our blessings and give thanks, it may feel harder than it has in other years. 

We can lose sight of the bounty of God’s goodness in the starkness of a year that, thanks to COVID, stripped us of many familiar comforts: health, security, stability, community and even access to the sacraments. 

Every individual and family has their own story of COVID-19 and 2020; no one was left untouched. 

And yet the Lord desires to reveal in the midst of upheaval and personal and cultural challenges that all of it — all of it — is an opportunity to be grateful. 

Not in spite of the suffering of this particular season, but because of it.One special saint, St. Josephine Bakhita, is a particularly poignant witness of the providential love of a God who works all things so profoundly for our good that humble gratitude is the only posture we can take for everything that comes to us from his hand. 

As this African-born saint demonstrates in her own witness throughout her life, if we could see his plan, if we could trust the economy of grace, we would be in awe of how he is even now planning a future for us full of hope and ordering all things in our life to that end, even the painful ones.

St. Josephine Bakhita was canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000. Hers is an incredible story of forgiveness, but even more than that, of gratitude for immense suffering. How is it possible to be grateful for trauma and even torture? Only with a supernatural grace that reveals the redemptive and restorative power of God, who only ever allows suffering in order to bring about an immense good, a greater gift.

Born in Africa, St. Josephine had a happy childhood. Her parents were not Christian, but they were good, loving people who suffered deeply when their oldest daughter, Josephine’s sister, was captured by slave traders. 

Not long after, that became Josephine’s fate, as well. When she was just 9 years old, she was snatched while going on a walk near her home. With a knife at her side and a gun at the back of her head, she began a new life of suffering.

She was sold over and over, beaten and tortured, and named by her owners “Bakhita,” which means “lucky” or “fortunate.” 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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