4. The Thanksgiving of Understanding

(The Merging of Prayers of Thanksgiving with the Gift of Understanding Our Lord.)

Luke 2:51. “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.  And his mother kept all these words in her heart.”

Psalm 95:2-3. [94] “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” [From Book IV of the Psaltery]

“As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving.  The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’; ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.’” (1 Thess 5:18; Col 4:2) (CCC, 2638).

Our Father, 10 Hail Marys (contemplating the mystery), Glory Be and Fatima Prayer.

Excerpt from The Holy Family Rosary:

By this example given of Mary and Joseph we must never demand more nor expect anything less for ourselves in  events or unknown happenings yet to come; but we can exercise our hope in Christ fully expecting to echo the psalmist in revelation of truth’s double-edge in that we must be thankful for Christ’s understanding of our immediate needs – even when we do not understand as He.

The Holy Family was thankful to God for hearing and answering their prayers in finding Jesus safe just as we must believe that God desires our concern for the welfare of others with the same expectation and propensity for goodness for ourselves.  The Psalmist foretold more in that we do not have to comprehend His Will at all times nor in all things other than our constant response of continuing our efforts to “do the good.”[1]

When learning the lesson of this meditation that although Mary and Joseph did not immediately understand, acting and thinking well of others was reinforced by what we were taught later as the New Commandment of Christ.[2] The good work that they understood was accomplished through God’s Son returning home with them and honoring them in obedience to their loving concerns.

What greater lesson can we have presented to us of thanksgiving in heaven above then by the Only Begotten Son of God delighting His Holy Family through obedience to their earthly commands?  He promised us the same when saying: “If you shall ask me anything in my name, that I will do.”[3]

What more of hope need we come to believe?  Will anyone of you, or me?  By keeping these words in our hearts as Mary, we surrender our will to God who lies hidden deeply within.

In recollection of the Holy Family’s return to Nazareth from Jerusalem one might expect that Joseph and Mary would have recalled another time when they “were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him” from the words of Simeon when they presented themselves with Jesus years earlier in the Temple, “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”[4]

In this meditation we are reminded that all that we hear or see in life should cause us to ponder what truth lies hidden within; for virtue finds merit remaining thankful for future understanding (as an exercise of faith) just as without concern for personal provision the sparrows do not sow nor of raiment’s beauty have lilies of the field.[5] In this example we are encouraged to continually ask of Our Lord “What are we to do?”

A wonderful instruction on this meditation was later given to us by St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians regarding how this meditation bears fruit in our souls when saying: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, rejoice.  Let your modesty be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline: think on these things.  The things which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, these do: and the God of peace shall be with you.[6]

The entire set of the Gracious Mysteries are especially introduced to direct our thoughts, words, and deeds as a means towards that peaceful end and must be contemplated in one way or another as we grow throughout our lives within God’s order for us to comprehend.


[1] CCC #1803.
[2] CCC #2759, 2803.
[3] Jn. 14:14.
[4] Lk. 2:33-35.
[5] Cf. Mt. 6:26-28.
[6] Phil. 4:4-9.