Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Music to Mom’s Ears

6 Oct

grateful-kids“Thanks, Mom!” Few things are more pleasing to a parent’s ears than hearing sincere gratitude pour forth from the lips of a child. While it probably does not happen as often as it should, it is heartwarming when it does.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the grateful leper who returns to give thanks to Jesus who heals him. In the busyness of our families, it is easy to overlook the importance of thanking God for His many blessings. Gratitude is the beautiful fabric that weaves the blanket of love that fills the family with joy.

Take time in prayer to reflect and then share with the respective loved ones or friends:

  • What three things are you most grateful for in your spouse?
  • In your children?
  • In your in-laws?
  • In your employer?
  • In your parish priest?
  • In yourself?
  • In your circle of friends?

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Dignity of Dads

17 Jun

fffHow do our children experience the tangible love of God? Pope Francis reminds us in Amoris Laetitia of the importance and dignity of being a parent when he said, “The love of parents is the means by which God our Father shows His own love.”

Aside from the obvious mission of participating with God in the creation of life, each parent has a daily mission to make God’s love concrete by the way they love their children. Spending quality time, providing food and shelter, teaching virtue and morals, showing affection, offering forgiveness, and even using proper discipline are all ways children grow into the experience of God’s love.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, take stock of the qualities your dad or husband has that reflect God the Father, and acknowledge the noble mission of fatherhood. Pray for all dads, and take the time to affirm the great qualities you see. In this current culture, dads need all the encouragement they can get. Especially in this Year of Mercy, remember that no earthly dad is perfect.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Thanks for Everything

27 Nov

Gratitude is the appropriate response when receiving a gift. As parents, we try to drill into our children the holy habit, or virtue, of saying “thank you” whenever we are the beneficiaries of a gift. We also teach our children to pray–to thank God, who after all is the source of all that we have and are.

Too often we take our lives for granted and don’t adequately acknowledge our abundant blessings. Sometimes, however, we may recognize the gift but not recognize the Giver. Instead, we take the credit ourselves. We “make our own breaks” and when things go our way, we are successful. At that point, we become like the man who prays, “Lord, help me find a parking place . . . never mind, I found one.” The truth, however, is that we are merely stewards, not manufacturers, of our material and spiritual blessings.

We also have to see the apparent tragedies, losses, and failures as gifts. This is where we truly need the vision of faith to trust that our loving God–even now, especially now–is drawing us to Himself.

I think the best way to develop the virtue of gratitude is to meditate on our most fundamental identity. We are truly “children of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). In fact, Jesus tells us that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of God.

While we may be adults in the world’s eyes, we’re still children in God’s eyes. We are utterly dependent upon Him for the life of grace freely given to us at Baptism. He cleans up our messes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and He feeds us with the true bread from heaven.

And, as a Father who truly understands and desires what’s best for His children, He disciplines us, even though as it occurs we might not fully understand His purposes (see Heb. 12:11). And, as children who joyfully and confidently await Our Father’s blessing, we begin to see, with St. Thérèse, that prayer is “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (Catechism, no. 2558). Continue reading

Thanksgiving 24-7

14 Nov

At least in my experience, God’s will is not always been easy to discern, even with the assistance of prayer and spiritual direction. Sure, I know the boundaries of moral decision-making. For example, under no circumstances may I legitimately choose to do evil, even to get something good. Further, I must fulfill the duties and obligations that go with my state in life as a husband, father, grandfather, deacon candidate, and employee.

But what exactly does God want me to do? The answer usually isn’t black and white. We make what seems to us to be the right choice, and pray that God will bless our sincere desire to do His will and that He will continue to make His will for us known with ever greater clarity.

For this reason, I think that one of the most remarkable verses in all of Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, in which Saint Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So while we might struggle in discerning our vocation in life, whether to take a certain job, or even how to spend our next vacation, when it comes to giving thanks–in other words, manifesting the virtue of gratitudeGod’s will is right there in Scripture for all to see. There’s absolutely no mystery or guesswork about it. God explicitly wills that we give thanks in all circumstances.

Many times in Scripture we hear Our Lord say something along the lines of “Let those with ears hear.” In other words, He’s telling the crowd not simply to let His teachings go in one ear but out the other. I think 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is one of those verses that requires an attentive, meditative disposition if we are truly going to “get it.” Continue reading

Forever Grateful

13 Nov

In today’s Gospel, Jesus cures ten lepers as He passes through a Samaritan village. One of the ten, realizing that he had been healed, returns to thank Jesus for this incredible gift. Jesus affirms the faith of the healed man, but He also asks (rhetorically), “Where are the other nine?”

Our taking the time to give thanks seems to matter greatly to our Savior.

Weren’t the others grateful? We don’t know what was on their hearts, but we do know that they failed to express gratitude in word or action. As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday this month, may we take stock of the many blessings we have received from the Lord, and may our own lives of fidelity and service unequivocally proclaim our gratitude to the Holy Trinity for the wondrous gift of our faith, and for the many kindnesses we have received from the people in our lives.

In a particular way, this Gospel passage reminds me of the need to take time after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist to thank Him for this wondrous gift. Too often, I am one of “the other nine,” only too eager to go on with my day without adequately thanking the Lord for coming to me in Holy Communion and for the many graces and blessings in my life.

The time immediately after receiving Communion is an apt time to offer such prayers of thanksgiving, as is the time immediately after Mass. Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, reminds us that “the precious time of thanksgiving after Communion should not be neglected.”

I think we do well to adapt a saying often attributed to St. Francis: Express gratitude at all times, and frequently use words.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Address of 1863

22 Nov

Thanksgiving has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” This is yet another case-in-point that our forefathers never envisioned, let alone desired, that our country would ever fail to give homage to the Lord. Here is the text of President Lincoln’s proclamation:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

The Gift of the Eucharist

20 Jul

God loves us not because we’re good, but because He’s good. In fact, God in His goodness loved us so much that, despite our sinfulness, He became man in the fullness of time. He redeemed us by His own blood and opened for us the gates of heaven. We have received no greater gift, and we have no greater cause for thanksgiving, than Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for us.

Even more, through the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is continually made present and effective in our lives. “Eucharist” literally means thanksgiving, as the gift of Christ to His Church elicits our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

We do need to recognize the fullness of the gift of the Eucharist–that Our Lord is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine, and that He gives us the grace and the power to live the Gospel when we partake of this Sacrament. To fully appreciate the gift of the Mass, our eyes must remain fixed on Jesus and this tremendous gift.

That should go without saying, but in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, our focus can be diverted to ourselves if we’re not careful. Many of the liturgical controversies that we’ve endured in recent decades would dissipate if we really believed and truly appreciated what is happening on the altar. We can’t feed ourselves, we can’t save ourselves. Thank God that He sent His Son to feed us, indeed, to save us.

The gift of faith in Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, is inseparable from our faith in the Church. Scripture says that in marriage the two truly become one (cf. Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:5). Scripture also calls Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride (cf. Eph. 5:21-33). If that were the case, it would take an act of violence–a spiritual divorce, if you will–to separate Christ from His Church.

The Church, after all, is the Body of Christ extended through space and time. Even more profoundly, she is the family of God and our true home. The Bible is our family album. All those who are alive in Christ are truly our brothers and sisters in the communion of saints. Christ is the one source of eternal life for the whole world, and this life flows through His family, the Church. We are grateful for the gift of the Church and for the witness and intercession of the company of saints.