Kathryn Lopez

"Our Lady of Guadalupe's only words of spiritual guidance are her gentle but persistent reminders to Juan Diego about love: a love that can be trusted, a love that gives dignity, a love that is personal ... The Guadalupan message is, in its originality, a spiritual education, an education in love," Anderson and Msgr. Chavez add.

Here in Guadalupe, we are on equal ground -- the cardinal and the poverty-stricken Mexican woman with her children. We are all children of a merciful Father. Here, the mother of God, who will soon adorn our Christmas celebrations, seems to embrace us with a soft, magnetic whisper of "mercy." It's exactly the message and the approach that has intrigued, if not mesmerized, even hardened hearts since Pope Francis was elected pope this March. It's exactly the message that can get us somewhere.

The legacy of President Kennedy, our first Catholic president, is a complex one. The cult of Camelot overlooks a lot. At a time when we are losing a common understanding of so very many fundamentals, including religious liberty, ours is a moment of tremendous opportunity, to reflect on just what it was that inspired us about Kennedy: a sense of hope and renewal about the future. Human dignity is not just a matter to consider in the midst of a massive horror or disaster. The man standing next to us as we try to cross the street is loved by God. Do we realize? Do we do anything about it?

That sense that our lives have a divine purpose and law ensures that we are free to pursue them as great gifts. What are we doing to preserve life and liberty, to advance them, to see men and women flourish? Thanksgiving isn't simply for counting our blessings but for recommitting ourselves to lives of gratitude, lives that help facilitate opportunity and even joy. To not do so would be damned unworthy of the gifts of life and freedom that we must be stewards of and evangelists for.

(Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online www.nationalreview.com. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.)

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.