Posted by: mmreflections | April 15, 2010

Precious Gift of Life! April, 2010

God of compassion and love, thank you for the precious gift of life!  Thank you for breathing into us the breath of life and for giving us minds and bodies in which we live out our days on this earth.  We humbly and gratefully acknowledge that there is a time to live and a time to die.  We trustingly commit our life on this earth to you with confidence in the sure and certain hope of a new and greater life in the world to come.  Amen!

This is the time of the year when I find myself rejoicing in special ways for the precious gift of life.  When I first open my eyes at the beginning of each new day, I can see the beautiful palm trees swaying in the wind outside my bedroom window.  As I step out on my patio I delight in beholding the beautiful spring flowers bursting into bloom and emitting that special fragrance so hard to describe.  Each morning there is a tall white egret prancing around the fish pond below our patio looking for breakfast; sometimes this beautiful and graceful bird will sit out on the patio railing just showing off.  My heart overflows with gratitude for the vibrant life surrounding me and especially for the life I am still able to enjoy.  Every day is special for me!  Maybe it is one of the blessings of the golden years.

In addition to all of God’s creation surrounding me, there is another aspect of life in which I find myself rejoicing these days.  Thanks be to God, I am alive to witness the unfolding of the fourth generation of children in my family.  My great nieces and nephews are now getting married and beginning their families.   In most recent weeks we have welcomed the arrival of my great, great nephew – Liam, and my great, great nieces – Melania and Helena.  I am delighted to hear the news that three more of my great nieces are awaiting new arrivals.  Living to see the children of our family down to the third and fourth generations is one of the blessings too hard to describe.  “Thank you, Lord, for the precious gift of life!”

Moving into a new apartment earlier this month, I found  myself sorting through documents and letters that have been filed over the years.  I came across a letter and photo which deeply touched my heart and reminded me of all the young women who came to visit me during challenging moments in their lives, especially with regard to unexpected pregnancies when they were unmarried.  They were struggling with the decision to proceed with abortions or to embrace the life they were carrying.  The letter I found which typified the many I received over the years, along with attached photos,  proved to be a special blessing for me.  At this moment I am looking at the photo of a beautiful little girl with the sweetest smile and a sparkle in her eyes.  Her mother has permitted me to share in part the letter if it might help other young girls who may be in a similar situation as her own.  Only the names have been changed.

“The main purpose of this letter is to say ‘thank you.’  Do you remember the day my sister brought me to your home to talk about my pregnancy?  The word that I will always remember you saying to me was, ‘this child, this life, is a gift from God.’  That stayed with me through the rest of my pregnancy.  Today I have a beautiful 18 month old daughter that has changed my life entirely.  She is the best thing that ever happened to me and to Patrick!!!  She has given my life new meaning.  Thank you for having been a part in my decision to have her.  Maybe you can use this letter and picture as you minister to other girls in my same situation.  I trust the Lord is using you to minister as well in your new home as you did here in our town.  You touched our lives and we continue to pray for you and your work.  I am continuing to work full time with all holidays off.  My mom watches Kelly and loves every moment of it.  I am glad that I married Patrick.  We have had some hard times but we are working on it.  Most importantly Kelly has a father and he truly loves her.  He gives of himself to her and that makes it all worthwhile.”

As we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord to new life during this Paschal season and find ourselves delighting  in the new life now budding forth in all of nature, how can we not be filled with a spirit of gratitude for the abundant life which we have each personally received from the very Giver of Life.”  This precious gift of life gives us an opportunity to love, to serve others, to play, to look up at the stars on a clear night, to quietly behold in awe a lingering sunset and to share the stories of our journeys with those we love, especially the children.  I have discovered, again and again, how much our precious children love to hear the stories we tell them about our life’s adventures.

We need to remind ourselves each day of the very beauty of life.  We could be so much happier if we would only take time each day to notice the life all around us.  I believe we would all appreciate the precious gift of life more if we would take a moment to observe a bumble bee,  to smell a rose, to listen to a dog barking outside our window (as I am doing right now as I write these pages), to smile at the wonder of a little baby, to smell the air after the rain, to feel the wind blowing on our faces.  Jesus told us that he came so that we might have life and have it abundantly.  “A thief comes only to steal and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  This means we are to live our life to the fullest, to our greatest potential, and to hold on to our dreams.

As my life’s journey continues in these golden years, I have come to realize the importance of my attitude on life and all of life’s surprises.  More than twenty years ago one of my friends taught me a great lesson which became a part of the very fiber of my life.  He reminded me that I have everything I need to enjoy my life in the present moment, in the here and now, unless I am allowing my mind to be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future.  This helped me to understand that my response to all that is happening in my life is more important than the facts that present themselves.  My response or attitude towards life in the present moment is much more important than the dead past, the imagined future, education, financial situation, present circumstances, failures, successes, criticisms, or what others may think, do or say.  My response or attitude  to the many variables in life such as appearance, talents, professional skills, popularity, rejections or approvals is what really determines my happiness and joy in life. 

As I observe the lives of my friends and associates or parish communities and companies I perceive how attitudes and responses to situations help to build up people, families, marriages and institutions or lead to their destruction.  What is so amazing about all this?  What does it all have to do with the precious gift of life?  The most remarkable aspect of all this for me is the realization that God has given us all the gift of free will.  We have a choice to make every day upon waking from our night’s rest.  We must choose every new day of life what our attitude or response to life will be this day.  “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  For a happy and joyful appreciation of life this is the attitude we need to have.  There is no way we can change the past; the future is not yet here; we have no control of how other people will act; we have no control over the inevitable;  life is the way it is.  All we have is the attitude with which we will choose to face this day.  I have met many wise folks on my life’s journey who told me that this precious gift of life is 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we respond to it or our attitude to it.  It is up to us to decide each day what our attitude to life will be. 

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”  (Budda) 




  1. HI Father Mike,
    all that you speak of here is so true. It must be our age… I am amazed at how blessed I am.
    So much to be thankful for. I will always be thankful that you came into my life.

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