It’s November! And while the air is filled with the smell of pumpkin spice, falling leaves and pigskin footballs, we, along with our family and friends, are drawn to the one day a year Americans collectively reflect on all for which we are thankful. We, as Catholics, are called to give thanks every Sunday at Mass. After all, the word “Eucharist” has a Greek root, which means thanksgiving.
So, we should count our blessings, be long in thanksgiving, have an attitude of gratitude and give thanks to the Lord for He is good (His steadfast love endures forever). But saying “Thank You, Lord,” while good and necessary, is not enough. How we really show our gratitude for God’s generosity is to have truly generous hearts. We all have received abundant gifts and blessings, but what do we do with them? Are we using them for ourselves or for our Lord?
In my experience working with college students and being a college student (it wasn’t TOO long ago), I find that one virtue absolutely worth exploring is magnanimity. A little less well known than the virtues of faith, hope and love, magnanimity means the reaching out of the soul to great things. “Magnanimity,” St. Thomas explains, “makes a man deem himself worthy of great honors in consideration of the Divine gifts he possesses.” I can’t help but recognize our Mother Mary at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke as the perfect example of this virtue. “The Lord has done great things for me, and Holy is His name,” Mary proclaims. She also said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” ready to do whatever He asks of her, ready to magnify His goodness with her soul.
The college culture suffers from a myriad of lust and sexual sin, a desire for gaining the most wealth with minimal effort, mindlessly following trends and a general sense of mediocrity and comfort. But we are not made for comfort, Blessed John Paul II tells us, we are made for greatness.
You are made for great things! Really great things, like committing yourself to a chaste relationship with your boyfriend, talking to a classmate/coworker about the Gospel or even leading a Bible study made up of your peers. At first, these undertakings and many like them seem nearly impossible, but I’m constantly amazed by the students who accept the challenges our Lord sets before them. With the whole world against them, they, like Mary, desire to tell of the greatness of God with their lives.
It’s not easy being this generous with our lives. “The soul may not have the strength to achieve these things at once, but if it takes its flight it can make good progress, though like a little unfledged bird, it is apt to grow tired and stop.” What is St. Teresa of Avila trying to tell us? We have to work to attain virtue, but must have the courage to “take flight.” We cannot give into pusillanimity, or faintheartedness. True, without Him, we are nothing and can do nothing. But with Him, as St. Paul reminds us, we can do ALL things…great things.
What is He asking you to do?
**Lauren Garcia is a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the University of Texas at Austin. A 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lauren is a native of College Station, Texas. She loves reading, music and coffee. Visit her personal blog here.**