I was thinking about the various things for which I'm thankful this week. The usual spiritual and material things came to mind-Jesus Christ, the Faith, family, friends, a job etc...
But I was struck in Church last night by words that I've prayed more times than I can count. In the prayer entitled "A General Thanksgiving", it is written "we give thee thanks...above all for thine inestimable love, in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace and for the hope of glory."
Aside from generally being grateful for the brilliance of the language, the ideas here conveyed are wonderful. We are reminded that God himself is love, as St. John teaches, and because of this great love the only-begotten Son took to himself human flesh in the womb of our blessed mother, that he might redeem, that is purchase us back from the Dark One. That alone is something for which I am thankful.
But the prayer goes on even further. "For the means of grace", is clearly a reference to the sacraments of the Church. In the sacraments, God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is working in us the salvation he purchased for us on Calvary. He is with us, as he promised until the end of the age, interfering with our selves and transforming them into his Self. "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." (John 6) He gives himself to us in a mysterious fashion under the signs of bread and wine that we may have life, hope and joy.
And why? To give us the "hope of glory." We have the certain expectation of eternal life, because we are being prepared for it by having the eternal life possessed by the Trinity infused into our souls. C.S. Lewis once noted, I believe in the Great Divorce, that for those who are believers earth is really the outer bands of Heaven. The reason for this is clear, we have the life and joy of God in our souls even if our vision of both is limited by the corruption of our sin. Heaven will be the eternal realization of both. We expect this because we already have the downpaymet of it, as it were, in this world.
This is what I am thankful for this year. That God so loved the world that he gave and continues to give his only-begotten Son for us, that we might have the assurance of what Jesus himself promised. "I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am, there you will be also." (John 14:3)