The following was written by Father Adam Kotas of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Crescent City. Other local clergy members are invited to email holiday messages to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Having celebrated Thanksgiving, we are now hastily getting ready for another festivity: Christmas.
Both are occasions to be thankful, but are we really grateful? I am reminded of one Peanuts comic strip where Snoopy took one look at his dog food on Thanksgiving Day and said, "This isn't fair. The rest of the world today is eating turkey with all the trimmings and all I get is dog food."
So often we too fall into this same victim mentality just like Snoopy. But, just like Snoopy realized he is not a victim but rather victorious, we too, can come to that same conclusion in our life through an "aha moment" called grace.
You see as Snoopy stood there and stared at his dog food for a moment he comprehended finally the message of this sacred season during which we celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so Snoopy in his newfound understanding through grace said: "I guess it could be worse. I could be a turkey."
Many times we are just like Snoopy, complaining and ranting and raving about how bad our life is. We have a victim mentality. This holy and grace-filled season reminds us to stop complaining and to rid ourselves of our victim mentality.
Right after I was ordained a priest in 2010, I was sitting in my living room watching television and feeling sorry for myself because someone had just told me that church members were murmuring about the new young fat priest.
I was complaining to God about my body, my spare tires, my extra rolls, my Pillsbury Doughboy figure; I was telling God how much I wished that He would give me a body like that of Hercules and how depressed I was because I was fat.
You see, ever since I was a child I was picked on because of my weight and I went through life feeling sorry for myself; I had a victim mentality.
All of a sudden God responded to my prayers in the very mysterious ways that He always does: my phone rang and it was the hospital asking that I come to visit a 16-year-old young lady named Ashley who was getting ready for surgery.
I went to the hospital and met Ashley, who was getting ready for her 11th surgery; Ashley is a quadriplegic, meaning she cannot move her arms or legs; the only thing Ashley can move is her head.
She looked at me and pleaded: "Father, please pray that God won't take me. I love my life. I want to live. I don't want to die!"
You see, God slapped me hard that evening. He let me know how silly I was feeling sorry for myself. Ashley would do anything to have my body. She would do anything to be able to move her hands and feet, and here I was complaining about a few spare tires or rolls.
How pathetic! This was my "aha moment," my moment of grace! You and I need a wake-up call once in awhile like Snoopy and I received, realizing that life could always be worse.
This holy season I am inviting all of you, my dear friends, to please take a close look at your life and see how good you have it, and be thankful; be grateful; feel victorious.
Now every morning I can wake up and before I brush my teeth I can look in the mirror and say: "With me, God, you have really outdone yourself!"
This is my Christmas wish for each and every one of you that you too can look in the mirror and with a smile declare your own new-found victory.