Thursday, November 24, 2005


In one of the truly great modern paraphrases of the Bible which can be seen in the English version of the Liturgy of the Hours, there is this very short instruction from St. Paul:
"Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness."
-- cf. Colossians 3:15

It is one with that amazing beginning which we hear in the Preface of the Mass, which I do not have handy to quote, but I recall as sounding something like this:
"It is truly right and just, proper and helpful towards salvation, that we always and everywhere give thanks to You, almighty and ever-living God..."
And, for those of us who do strive to dedicate ourselves to thankfulness, especially for the amazing writings of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, this day, as much as Christmas, deserves to be celebrated in a thoroughly Chestertonian manner.

And therefore, I will give just a few of the most delicious and relevant phrases, ending with what I consider to the the most mathematical and most theological and most scientific (as well as the most practical) of all GKC's works - and it is only 12 lines long.

"Thanks are the highest form of thought,
and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

-- GKC, A Short History of England CW20:463

"We should thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them."
-- GKC, Orthodoxy CW1:268

"The great painter boasted that he mixed all his colours with brains, and the great saint may be said to mix all his thoughts with thanks. All goods look better when they look like gifts. ... It is the highest and holiest of the paradoxes that the man who really knows he cannot pay his debt will be for ever paying it. He will be for ever giving back what he cannot give back, and cannot be expected to give back. He will be always throwing things away into a bottomless pit of unfathomable thanks. ... For that is the full and final spirit in which we should turn to St. Francis; in the spirit of thanks for what he has done. He was above all things a great giver; and he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving. If another great man wrote a grammar of assent, he may well be said to have written a grammar of acceptance; a grammar of gratitude. He understood down to its very depths the theory of thanks; and its depths are a bottomless abyss. He knew that the praise of God stands on its strongest ground when it stands on nothing. He knew that we can best measure the towering miracle of the mere fact of existence if we realise that but for some strange mercy we should not even exist."
-- GKC, St. Francis of Assisi CW2:75, 77, 132

"I have often thanked God for the telephone..."
-- GKC, What's Wrong With the World CW4:112

"Have you ever said some simple word over and over till it became unmeaning, a scrap of an unknown tongue, till you seem to be opening and shutting your mouth with a cry like an animal's? So it is with the great world in which we live: it begins familiar: it ends unfamiliar. When first men began to think and talk and theorise and work the world over and over with phrases and associations, then it was involved and fated, as a psychological necessity, that some day a creature should be produced, corresponding to the twentieth pronunciation of the word, a new animal with eyes to see and ears to hear; with an intellect capable of performing a new function never before conceived truly; thanking God for his creation."
-- GKC, "A Crazy Tale" in CW14:74


I cannot count the pebbles in the brook.
Well hath He spoken: 'Swear not by thy head,
Thou knowest not the hairs,' though He, we read,
Writes that wild number in His own strange book.

I cannot count the sands or search the seas,
Death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.
Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
And I will name the leaves upon the trees.

In heaven I shall stand on gold and glass,
Still brooding earth's arithmetic to spell;
Or see the fading of the fires of hell
Ere I have thanked my God for all the grass.
-- GKC, Collected Poems CW10:209


At 24 November, 2005 13:21, Blogger rhapsody said...

Lovely, Dr. Thursday :)

Thanks for posting!

Geez, I could have sworn I posted here already... must've closed instead.

Hope you are enjoying your day!

At 25 November, 2005 00:05, Blogger A Holy Fool said...

Happy belated Thanksgiving, Dr. Thursday! Your refreshing commentary enlightens the often-too-dark blogosphere. May your counsel continue to encourage and inspire!

At 25 November, 2005 07:25, Blogger Nancy C. Brown said...

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for the wonderful post, I especially love the St. Francis, we can never thank enough, and should spend our whole lives trying to be thankful for everything, what a great way to spend a life!

Have a very thankful weekend.


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