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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 November 18, 2019

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics, than many compli...

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November 18

 

Better a few staunch and sincere Catholics,
than many compliant with the enemies of the Church
and conformed to the foes of our Faith.

St. Peter Canisius


DEFEND Our Lady's HONOR !

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

During the French Revolution, the Sisters of the Visitation...

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St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Born on August 29, 1769 in the French city of Grenoble, Rose Philippine was baptized in the Church of St. Louis. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut and, against her father’s wishes, became a novice there when she was eighteen years old. However, the French Revolution caused much disruption for the nuns, and when the Sisters of the Visitation were expelled from their convents, Rose returned home.

She cared for the sick and the poor, helped fugitive priests, visited prisons, and taught children. Some time after the Revolution ended, she unsuccessfully tried to reestablish the Visitation community, and ultimately gave the convent to St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and joined the Order. When the Bishop of New Orleans, William Du Bourg, requested nuns for his thriving diocese in Louisiana, Rose and four other nuns made the trip to America in 1818.

Rose and the nuns were sent to Missouri, pioneers of the New World. There, as well in neighboring states, they established multiple schools, built a convent, an orphanage, a mission school for Indian girls, a boarding academy and a novitiate for her Order. However, the strenuous and difficult regime of work for her apostolate took its toll on her body. She died in St. Charles, Missouri in 1852 after spending more than 30 years as a pioneer in the evangelization of the New World. She was canonized in 1988. Rose was truly devoted to God, and prayed in her every spare moment. Because of this, the Indians began to call her “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” or "Woman-Who-Prays-Always."

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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