My dear friends, as we enter this week, our hearts and minds are focused on Thanksgivings weekend; a period that, over the time, has come to focus so much on buying, sports, travel, food, and merriment. While this is good, in terms of celebration, it is important that we do not forget how it all started. The celebration of thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims who came to America to worship God freely. After suffering through drought and facing all kinds of perils, illness, and death, the surviving members of the community joined together to worship God and thank him for their blessings. In 1864, President Lincoln enshrined the celebration of Thanksgiving Day into law when he declared the last Thursday of November a national holiday and Thanksgiving Day. It is worth noting, that this declaration came during the height of the Civil War. Talk about being thankful in the midst of a storm.
The craziness of modern world and secularism can make us lose sight of what Thanksgiving really means. Borrowing from the Alcoholic Anonymous meetings’ assertion that “Gratitude is an Action Word”, it is important that we keep in mind that thanksgiving is about expressing our grateful to God through word and action in response to His graciousness in filling our hearts with His blessings. It begins with realizing that everything good in lives comes from God (Cf. James 1:17). I love to sing this song: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings and see what the Lord has done; count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” You see, when we consciously count our blessings on daily basis, we become proficient at recognizing the good things in our lives, instead of constantly focusing on the deficits. Thankfulness and gratitude become our default disposition.
Being grateful and thankful is not just about when things are going well, something we should never forget to do, but should be a way of living, regardless of the situation. When we are in a storm, we are never able to see the full picture—how it will end. But we can hold on to the truth that in every situation of turmoil, “God is working all things out for the good of those who believe and trust in Him (Cf. Rom 8:28). So, we thank Him for His presence in the midst of our storm and, even so, for what He is doing to redeem the situation. Being grateful calls us to look back and see how bad experiences in our lives have produce some good—gained courage, strength, insight, greater prosperity, growth, etc.
Because gratefulness is an action word, it is important that we make gratitude a part of our interaction with other people, and not just with God. When we appreciate people we increase their sense of selfworth. It is important that we don’t take for granted expressing our gratitude to family member, friends, and co-workers. We always need to be thankful to those who are closes to us. The more grateful we are, the greater the blessings we experience. I thank God for all of you; for all that you do for our parish; for your stewardship of time, talent, and treasure which has kept our Church financially healthy and spiritually vibrant.
May you all have a beautiful and faith-filled Thanksgiving weekend.