Deborah Meister, a writer and artist in St. Louis, MO, tells this true story. She was in the church parking lot before Mass one Sunday and overheard a child arguing with his parents. “But I don’t want to go to church,” he cried. “It’s boring!” She wondered if the father would drag his son kicking and screaming into the church. Instead, the father said to the boy, “I’m going into church to say thank you to God, because God has given us so many wonderful things that aren’t boring,” and he began to list them. The boy listened. Then he began to smile, took his father’s hand, and walked into the church.
This father could have been a scripture scholar, for he captured the essence of the Third Commandment in words his little son could understand. We “keep holy the Lord’s Day” by gathering together in community to give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received. A corollary to our thanksgiving is this: we take time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends–whether that means staying longer at the dinner table, watching a football game or movie, playing games, going for a walk, visiting an elderly relative, going to a museum, or sitting around a fire pit in the evening.
If you ask Catholics why they go to Mass every week, you will probably get a wide range of answers: “I go because I have to… I go to show my love for Jesus… I go to get strength to deal with my problems and worries… I go to be with friends and other believers… I go to be inspired by the prayers, the scripture, the homily, the music.” These all may be true, but it is good to remember we go to give thanks to God for all our blessings. In fact, the very word Eucharist means Thanksgiving.
Do we ever take time, perhaps while we’re waiting for Mass to begin or some other time during the day, to list some of the blessings of the past week that we are grateful for? Our prayer could be simple. Here’s a sample of what our thanks might look like. It’s pretty generic, so you can fill in your specifics to make it your own:
Thank you, God, for my spouse… my children… my parents… my siblings… my friends… Thank you, God, for my job… my house… the wide variety of food we have… Thank you, God, for health… for our parish community… for the freedoms we enjoy in this country… Thank you, God, for your amazing creation, this beautiful earth… our magnificent sun… for clean air, life-sustaining water… for trees, flowers, animals of all kinds, and our entire earth community… and thank you, God, for my precious and unique gift of life… for the talents you have given me… and for the gift of my faith. I thank you for the hard things too, God–those things that make me stronger, more humble, more compassionate toward others, more trusting of you… And I thank you for giving us Jesus, your son… and all the love he poured out on us through his life, teachings, and sacrifice on the cross. For all these blessings I give you thanks, my good and gracious God. Amen.
I want to wish all of you and your loved ones
a very Happy Thanksgiving!
And I send out a BIG THANK YOU for reading my blog!
And I include a special thanks to those of you
who write comments below–whether regularly or occasionally!
For reflection: What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?
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Last Monday we launched our new and improved version of my blog, “Sunflower Seeds.” All of you should have received or will be receiving: 1) an email from me announcing the launch, 2) the new blog in your email if you are a subscriber. We are still having a few glitches with that subscriber system, and our tech people are working to fix it. But I want to thank Lina (in Oklahoma) and Alayna (in New Jersey) for all their work with the new design, for getting the blog up and running, and for “training” me on how to navigate the new system. If any problems persist, I will address them for you on this blog. Stay tuned! And thanks again for your patience!
Our video is the beautiful song from Godspell, “All Good Gifts.” I hope you enjoy the song and the visuals!
You are invited to leave a comment below… My readers and I enjoy hearing from readers like you!