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Header - Family Tip 4 - Alphabet of Gratitude

 

Melinda had the blues. For two days the thirteen-year-old walked around eyes on the floor, and shoulders hunched. Her mother, Beatrice, didn’t know what else to say or do. At the end of the third day, Melinda again shut herself in her room after school.

As Christopher walked in from work, he found a frustrated Beatrice. He handed his wife a half-dozen roses he had picked up along with the milk and cheese she had asked, and watched her expression relax; then a smile; then a sigh.

“I don’t know what to do about Melinda…” and she poured out her worries over fresh coffee.

“Let me have a talk with her,” her husband said after the last sip. And plucking one of the roses from the bunch, made his way upstairs.

“Good luck…” called Beatrice after him.

Knocking and creaking the door open to a muffled “Come in..” Christopher handed Melinda the rose.

“For me?!” said the teary teenager with a coy smile.

Alphabet of Gratitude - Image 1Christopher settled down on the edge of Melinda’s bed and asked about her, how she was feeling, what was bothering her.

As Melinda twirled the rose in her hands, she enumerated the usual reasons–or lack of them. It had begun with her best friend saying some nasty thing at school, and then Mom who had little time for her… and the list went on.

At these moments, he knew how important it was to let his girl talk. Mom was the same. He also knew this was one of those times when he must push everything else out of his mind and listen with his ears and his heart. He did. And she felt it.

After 20 minutes she was feeling better.

Now it was Dad’s turn.

“Sweetie”, he began, “You are a sensible girl and you have reasons to feel down. But, the thing is that when we are overwhelmed by life’s negativities, we tend to forget about the good things that are actually happening to us.”

Dad had listened for a long time, so now she listened. She loved him very much.

Christopher continued,

“Have you ever heard of the Alphabet of Gratitude?”

Melinda shook her head.

“Here’s how it works. For each of the letters of the Alphabet, we find a corresponding good thing that is happening to us. Some of the letters can be challenging but that is what makes this game interesting. So, how about we give it a try?

A – How about the A’s you got at school this semester. Seems to me you only got a couple of B’s but all the rest were A’s. Did your whole class have the same result?
“No, Dad! I had the most A’s…”
“Awesome!” commented Christopher. “That is great and makes me proud. I have a smart, diligent daughter.”

B – Beatrice for Mom... She is a good mother isn’t she? 

Melinda put her head down…

“Yes…Sometimes she gets on my nerves…But she is caring, and smart and does cook great meals… all in all she is a really good mom.”

“Did you know”, said Christopher, “that some children don’t even have mothers? …. 

“Yes” agreed Melinda, “Mom is the best mom I could wish for…She even puts up with my bad moods.”

C – our Creator. Christopher then went on to describe all the great things our Creator has given us. Not only this beautiful world with trees, waterfalls, mountains and oceans, but He also made us and gave us a soul and body, talents and intelligence to enjoy it all. “

D – Dessert. Now, your mother is a great cook but when it comes to her desserts…Wow! 

“Yes,” Melinda agreed, “her desserts are the best!”

“She is making Crème Brulee tonight!

Melinda smiled.

“And there, again, how many children go hungry these days. But we have your Mom and Crème Brulee.”

E – How would life be without Eliot?

That was the name of their funny dog.

“O, Dad, said Melinda, Eliot is a riot!

“And did you notice, Sweetie, how happy he is every day? I am always amazed how Eliot greets me when I come back from work. It is as if he had not seen me for a month. He jumps up and down, wants to lick me…Attitude is everything, it so helps in life. ”

F – Father Finn. I think we are pretty lucky to have him for our Pastor don’t you agree? Imagine if we still had Father Brock? He was irritable… and his sermons…But Father Finn is really good, and so kind in Confession…

By letter “I” Melinda was joining in, “I…for…ICE-CREAM! I loooove ice-cream!"

They played for a while, now giggling, laughing and commenting.

Alphabet Gratitude - Image 2

By letter “Q” Melinda put her hand on her father’s arm,

“Okay Dad, I see I’ve been really stupid and I’m sorry. I promise I will make a better effort and remember all the good things happening to me and in my life. When you think about it, it is impressive how the good things actually outdo the bad things.

“Did you enjoy our time together?” Her father asked, “Isn’t the Alphabet of Gratitude a neat trick?”

Melinda was all smiles now.

“It’s a real trick, Dad, I’ll always use it! One correction though, she said hugging his neck…”D” should have been for “DAD,” I have the BEST!”

As father and daughter walked into the kitchen, Melinda gave her mother a big hug from behind. Beatrice looked at her husband, wide-eyed, as if she was looking at a first-class miracle worker.

Of course, half of the solution to Melinda’s blues was the time her father spent with her. But the other half was the Alphabet of Gratitude for it gave Melinda a mind-tool, a concrete formula to help her next time she felt low.

 


 By Antonio Fragelli
Illustrations by A.F.Phillips

 

ALSO READ: Give Thanks and Be Happy

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 8, 2020

Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes...

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April 8

Every virtue in your soul
is a precious ornament
which makes you dear to God and to man.
But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue,
is a jewel so precious
that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven,
even though clothed in mortal flesh.

St. John Bosco

 
My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

 

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Julie Billiart

She was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on...

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St. Julie Billiart

Born on July 12, 1751 in Cuvilly, France, Marie Rose Julie Billiard was the daughter of fairly well-to-do peasant farmers who also owned a small shop. From early childhood Julie had a keen interest in spiritual things and by seven years of age she had memorized the catechism and attained an understanding of it beyond her years.

During her youth, her father’s shop was robbed and her father attacked. This so traumatized his daughter that she became ill and gradually a physical paralysis took hold of her. Deprived of the use of her legs, she eventually had great difficulty in even speaking. Julie's paralysis lasted for twenty-two years, and throughout this whole trial she continued to teach her beloved catechism to children and to trust unwaveringly in the everlasting goodness of “le bon Dieu”. Her infirmities drove her to an even deeper life of prayer and union with God.

During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution when the pastor of Cuvilly was superseded by a constitutional priest sworn to the new atheistic government, Julie influenced her friends and neighbors to boycott the intruder. Though an invalid herself, she worked to hide and assist fugitive priests who remained loyal to the Catholic Church, and for this charitable work she was herself persecuted and obliged to escape from place to place – on one occasion, hiding all night under a haystack.

While taking refuge with the aristocratic family of Gézaincourt, Julie met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman who had barely escaped the guillotine by the fall of Robespierre before her execution. The two became close friends and collaborators.

After the Terror, they both dedicated themselves to the spiritual care of poor children, and the Christian education of girls in a generation sorely neglected by the ravages of the Revolution.

In 1804, after a novena to Him, Julie Billiart was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now physically free to pursue a full range of activity, her educational work increased rapidly.

At odds with the bishop of Amiens through the meddling influence of a misguided young priest, Julie and Françoise were obliged to move to Namur, in present-day Belgium, where with the full support of the local bishop, they proceeded with their work, eventually founding the Institute of Notre Dame de Namur, today in sixteen countries around the world.

Julie Billiart died on April 8, 1816 while praying the Magnificat. She was canonized in 1969.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort...

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And He Stole Heaven

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.
 
On his left hung another man, covered in the matted blood of his wounds. Yet, with the exception of a few intermittent words, there was no sound from him.

As time passed, the thief became more and more engrossed in the silent crucified beside him, and less and less in his own plight.St Dismas Picture

Indeed life is ironic, mused Dismas, this man who had lived in the open, and was acclaimed as a healer and even as a king, now hung beside him who had spent his life lurking and hiding.

And now they were lifted up, both on a high parallel. He could see the roof tops of the city, he could see the highways he had stalked, and he could see the way they had walked. Now he looked down on those gathered around this place of execution, the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the curious, the friends of the man beside him…and a young man supporting a lady directly beneath them...

And then he knew her; that upturned face, that maidenly majesty now wracked by sorrow, her tear-filled eyes fastened on the man on his left–Yes, he knew that face.

As the wheels of time rolled back in his mind,  his heart gave a jolt as he remembered that blessed day in the desert, decades ago, when a young family making its way to Egypt, sought refuge for the night in his family’s hovel. The man was strong and kind, the woman was the fairest his child’s eyes had seen, and she carried a golden haired babe, as if nothing in the universe was more precious.

He remembered the lady’s gaze on him, her beautiful eyes full of concern for the leprous sores on his young body. Then she and his mother talked. And next, he was being bathed in the same water the lady had just washed her infant son.

And then the sores were gone.  His mother wept for joy, and kissed the lady’s hands, and the baby’s feet. And even his robber-father was moved, and offered the strong man and his family the best in the house.

Now, in one revealing flash, he knew the identity of the wounded man on his left.  He looked again at the lady, and her eyes, those same sweet eyes of old, were on him once more.  
He felt his heart quiver, as the power of gratitude filled his being and softened his criminal soul.  And then came tears, rivers of tears.  When he could speak, he turned to the left,

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And the Lord turned his face to him, His divine eyes on him, and he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard, a voice at once full of pain and full of strength, full of sweetness and full of majesty, a judge’s voice, and a father’s voice,

“Amen, amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”

 

By Andrea F. Phillips
Based on: A Legend of St. Dismas and Other Poems,
Copyright by P. J. Kenedy and Sons. 1927, p. 18.

 

Free Meditation Booklet - Be Still and Know That I AM GOD

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.

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