This coming week we gather with friends and family to celebrate the American holiday—Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful holiday to stop and give thanks—to be grateful in this fast paced world that is often more ready to criticize and complain than give thanks. Of course, we as Catholics give thanks every time we gather for Eucharist...we are truly thanksgiving people.
St Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This can be hard if we see gratitude or thanksgiving as an emotion rather than a virtue. Christian thanksgiving does not depend on circumstances but on practices and habits we develop by always looking for the good and trusting in God.
Corrie ten Boom writes in The Hiding Place, about her sister and her experience in the Ravensbruck concentration camp after being sent there for hiding Jews. They were confined to awful conditions that included beds infested with fleas. They were faithful women and wondered how they could survive such a place. Her sister Betsie prayed to the Lord to show them how. In reading from a Bible they had snuck in, they found the verse from Thessalonians, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” The two sisters began doing a litany of thanks, thanking Jesus that they were still together, that they had their Bible to read as well as other things. Betsie chimed in “Thank you for the fleas,” and Corrie, quite perplexed responded that it was too much, “How can we give thanks for these awful pests?” Her sister reminded her that the scripture did not say to give thanks only in pleasant circumstances but in all circumstances. She recognized that fleas were part of the circumstance they were in, no matter how terrible. For several weeks, the sisters led secret Bible studies and the guards never caught them. In fact, the never entered the bunkhouse. At some point, the guards were overheard in conversation about why they stayed away from that bunkhouse—it was because of the fleas.
This is an extreme, but beautiful story of giving thanks in all circumstances. I think if we try to always find something to be grateful about in all circumstances, to practice gratitude daily, it pours grace into our lives in surprising ways.
So in a special way we all give thanks this week as a country—we find things to be grateful to God for in our lives. I can say I am truly grateful to God for this parish, your generosity and faithful commitment to prayer and charity. It is a wonderful place to give God thanks and to grow in holiness.
Next Weekend is the Feast of Christ the King and we will be inviting you to join a Eucharistic Procession around the parish campus at the end of the 9:00 and 11:00am Masses. This is a reminder that Christ is our King and we are called to carry him out to the streets in our daily witness. He desires to be our King in all things and at all times.
On behalf of Fr. Ryan and me, blessings to you and your family and friends this Thanksgiving.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. FredBACK TO LIST