Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday that has great appeal to many people in our nation.
It has become a time for family reunions around festive dinner tables. And, it has become a time when a variety of religious and civic groups provide fine dinners for those who may otherwise be alone or who do not have the means to provide a holiday meal for themselves and their loved ones.
In our parishes, Thanksgiving Day liturgies afford the good number who attend an opportunity to locate their gratitude for the blessings of their lives in the beautiful context of the Eucharist. Not infrequently ecumenical and interfaith groups gather on the holiday eve to thank God for the blessings they share, and to ask the Lord’s guidance in their work together.
However you choose or are able to celebrate this wonderful holiday, I hope that you will do so with an awareness of the blessings in your life and a readiness to offer thanks to God who is the source of all the good we have.
I’d like to encourage you to give some time each day, as you prepare for Thanksgiving travel or hosting, to name those blessings. You may even wish to develop a written list of them. Remember the big ones and the small ones. Think about when and how you first became aware of them and what they have added to your life. Consider whether you have expressed your gratitude for them in appropriate ways — in praise and thanksgiving to God and in service to others, especially those in need.
Even as I write these words, my mind moves to those people and gifts that I call special blessings in my life. I remember and I am deeply grateful for among many other things:
* The women and men, girls and boys of this diocese who daily witness to me a faith that is strong and who strive mightily to respond to the Lord’s call in their lives.
* The priests of our diocese who are so generous in their service to the community and are so supportive and understanding of me.
* Our permanent diaconate community who this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of the first group to be ordained. They daily give witness to the serving Christ and remind us of our obligations to do the same.
* Our many lay ecclesial ministers who work with competence and dedication — and often at considerable personal sacrifice — in service of the community.
* Our women religious who have made contributions to this diocese from the very first moment of its existence. We could never repay them for all that they have done.
* Friends who are willing to engage in honest exchange, who encourage, support, understand, stand with me in uncertain and trying times, and rejoice with me in moments of joy.
* Above all, God’s faithful love, compassion and readiness to forgive.
These are some of the blessings I’ll remember at Thanksgiving, and try to remember every day of the year.
For whom or for what do you give thanks?
Peace to all.