Reflecting on my recent pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, Ireland, I understand that the grace given me there had to with thanksgiving more than anything else. The priest who heard my confession at Knock exhorted me to give thanks for everything. A few days later, the saintly abbess of the Drumshanbo Monastery of Perpetual Adoration in County Leitrim repeated the same message, saying quite simply that it was the Lord’s word to me: give thanks for all things, be grateful. As a result of these two counsels given me in Ireland, I have found myself praying very often in thanksgiving for all that God has permitted or ordained in my life, from the moment of my conception right up to the present.
A Monastery of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving prolongs the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and goes hand in hand with adoration and reparation. Convinced of this, a correspondent of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, named Virginie Danion, was inspired in 1869 to establish a Monastery of Thanksgiving in the Morbihan in Brittany. Miss Danion saw that, while many souls were drawn to adoration and reparation before the Blessed Sacrament, few were drawn to thanksgiving. The words of Jesus to the leper made clean pierced her heart: “Were not ten made clean? and where are the nine? There is no one found to return and give glory to God but this stranger” (Lk 17:17-18).
Encouraged by Saint Peter Julian, Mademoiselle Danion and a few companions consecrated themselves to a life of uninterrupted thanksgiving before the Blessed Sacrament. Several years ago the remnant of the Community of Thanksgiving was amalgamated with the Congregation of the Filles de Jésus of Kermaria. Has its distinctive charism of thanksgiving disappeared? I would love to know what has become of the monastery.
I Thank You for Everything
Preaching a retreat last week to the Bridgettines in Connecticut, I invited them to do the same: to give thanks always, everywhere, and for all things. Their foundress, Blessed Mary Elisabeth Hesselblad prayed:
O my God, I thank You for everything You have given me,
I thank You for everything You refuse me,
and for everything You take away from me.
Grace Bestowed in Abundance
I write this brief note today because the last line of the Epistle at today’s Mass (2 Corinthians 4:7-15) is this: “Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.”