The Small Graces We Receive from God • A Weekly Reflection with Ozanam

by | May 25, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 0 comments

We are not sufficiently grateful for God’s little benefits. We thank Him for having created and redeemed us, and given us good parents, and a wife, and beloved children, and for so often giving us Himself in the Sacrament of the Altar. But besides these powerful graces, which support, so to speak, the web of our life, how many delicate graces are wrought into our very being! There was the steady comrade I met during my first year at college, and who edified instead of corrupting me; there was M. Ampere’s paternal welcome, and M. de Chateaubriand’s advice to me not to go to the theatre. And then, smaller things than these, an inspiration that prompted me to go and see my poor on a day when I was in a bad humor, and sent me home ashamed of my imaginary woes by the side of the appalling reality of theirs. How often has some insignificant circumstance– an importunity, a visitor who bored me — how often have these been the occasion of enabling me to do good to someone.”


Frederic Ozanam, Cf. Kathleen O’Meara, Frederic Ozanam, professor at the Sorbone: his life and works, chapter XVI.



  1. Frederic was a very sensitive individual. Even a superficial reading of his correspondence reveals his concern for his loved ones, his family and friends and also reveals his desire to be with them and to share with them the joys and sorrows of life.
  2. God was in the forefront of Frederic’s thinking and action. He was able to see God present in those seemingly insignificant events and was, therefore, able to thank God for safeguarding him and allowing him to participate in the creative activity of God. We recall here the words that Frederic wrote at the time that his daughter was born:: “I am the custodian and guardian of an immortal creature.
  3. Therefore, we are not surprised by the words of the text cited, words that express Frederic’s gratitude not only for the many great things that God had done (creation and redemption) but also for the many seemingly unimportant things in which his sensitive heart was able to see the divine hand of God.
  4. Among many things, let us recall one of those images that Frederic has given us: one day I was in a bad mood but I was impelled to visit the poor and after that visit I returned home and was ashamed at my imagined problems which were as nothing when compared with those of the poor people whom I had just visited. God speaks to us through the poor and the poor teach us to give a perspective to our concerns and suffering: compared with the sufferings and concerns of the poor, our concerns appear to be trivial. Giving thanks because God speaks to us through the poor should be an habitual reality and, therefore, like Frederic, we should become ever more aware of the fact that in the face of the poor we are able to see the face of the Savior.
  5. It may be bold to say this, but if we are convinced that God speaks to us in his Sacred Scripture, we should be no less convinced that he is still speaking today in the cry of the impoverished. May we be able to hear His voice, and, like Ozanam, to thank him for that saving presence!

Questions for dialogue:

  1. Do I thank God for all the good things that happen to me, and even for the not-so-good?
  2. Are the poor a true call for my conversion? Do I thank God for the privilege of being able to serve them?
  3. Am I able to see the hand of God in the small details, the breath of His Spirit animating our history?

Javier F. Chento
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