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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

The Mass as Thanksgiving

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.

(Photo by Gabriel Manjarres – Pexels)

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?

* * * * * * * * * *

New Blog!

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!

84 Responses

  1. Sr. Melannie I am thankful for your weekly words of wisdom. God has blest you. I am also thankful for my husband, children and my spiritual director (these men and women do not get the thanks needed as they help us reflect, refocus and renew our life with Our Lord.)
    May you have a Blessed Thanksgiving with simple blessings and gentle peace. God’s love.

  2. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…I am thankful for so many things, and yes this blog is one of them, but I will center on one person, from whom so many other gift of thanksgiving flow, my wife Kerry. As it says so beautifully in Proverbs, she has brought me so much good! Here is a sampling of that goodness: She has built over twenty pieces of furniture (I can’t hammer a nail!), woven many warm and cozy throw blankets, introduced me to the game of pickleball and the card game “Madame.” She loves to watch sports, she recommends great books, she enjoys taking long walks in the winter on golf courses, long car rides to nowhere, and, of course, she has — “with no hands!” — built three amazing children, one of whom having just gifted us with our first grandchild! Happy Thanksgiving, Melannie! Go Browns!

  3. God has gifted me with things Too numerous to name beginning with conception and 83 years of His blessings. So good to get your blog again. Another wonderful blessing. Thank you.

  4. As I was reading your blog and listening to the song of God’s gifts, I was watching the rising Sun from my apartment window. The entire sky was all shades of pinks, purples and oranges. It always is a humbling moment for me to behold this glorious sight each day. The gospel today is the cured blind man. I thank God for my gift of sight to enjoy and praise God for this wondrous sight. So good to read your blog again. Bless you, Mel.

  5. I got a wonderful gift this morning: your blog. I have missed it. Reading your blog Is a great way to start the work week. Thank you to all who made it possible. May everyone have a blessed, safe, and happy Thanksgiving as we approach a new liturgical year and the birth of the greatest gift of all, our Lord, Savior, and King of the Universe Jesus Christ.

    1. I too have not been receiving the blog and have missed it. Receiving the blog this morning was truly a gift. Thank you, Sr. Melanie. You are a blessing to us all.

  6. I am SO excited!! I got the blog post in my email this morning! This is huge as it had never worked for me for several years and I had to rely on my pea-brain to get out to your website every week. I’m SO excited! One more thing to be grateful for–and of course, you Sr. Melannie and your beautiful and inspiring writing! Happy Thanksgiving, all!

  7. I have always loved anything I come across that you have written and was happy to find out about your blog. I signed up a few months ago and this is the first one I have received! I’m thankful for your insights and humor.

  8. I, too, am back on the receiving end of your blog! It’s been a while.
    In my senior years, my thanks have been for all the things I used to take for granted….a roof, food in the pantry, potable water, the peaceful community I call home, wildlife roaming the hillsides. Of course my faith, family, friends. All of it gift, aware that too many others struggle for the barest of necessities. Which is a reminder of the corporal works of mercy.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Sister, and all your followers!

  9. What a beautiful story and message. I teach 7th and 8th grade Religious Education classes. I always find something to share with them from your stories, poems, videos and your words of wisdom. So grateful for you! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  10. Hi Sr Melannie!
    I have enjoyed your blog for many years and am grateful for your reflections. I, unfortunately, am not getting the email notifications. I set a reminder for myself on Monday mornings to check your page for the latest post.

  11. God, thank you for Sister Melanie and giving her the gift of writing and sharing everyday happenings. Thank you, Lord, for the air in my tires! Thank you for each person involved with getting Sister’s blog up and running.

  12. Sr. Melanie: I’m glad you are “up and running again.” I have missed your blogs. I have much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving and every day. I have had many medical struggles most of my life, but I still remain grateful for all the blessings I have received during my life of 71 years. I can see the beautiful world around me, I can still drive, I have a beautiful home, I have good food to eat, I am truly blessed and thankful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the other Sisters and I wish a world of love and blessings for all of you. Barbara D.

  13. Thanks, Melanie, for your beautiful reflection today. We have so much to be thankful for. God is so GOOD!

  14. Good morning Sister Melannie,
    Was so thankful to receive your wonderful blog this morning, so happy and thankful to all who got this up and running again. What a beautiful video you shared. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Good Morning-
    I’m grateful for a double dose of Sr Melanie today- your reflection for the reading today in the Living Faith and your blog. Always great to start the day with gratitude. So glad to get your blog again! Thank you.

  16. What a delightful gift for Thanksgiving that your blog is back! Thank you! This morning I am grateful for a skiff of snow on the path and trees, a cup of coffee and the health of my family.

  17. How I missed your inspiring blogs, Sr. Melanie! They are so encouraging, spiritfilled, and a guide to a more peacefilled happy life! Thank you! Thank you!
    Have a truly blessed Thanksgiving!

  18. Thank you Sister Melanie, I appreciate your blog posts and your writings when they appear in my Living Faith booklet. I am also grateful to your blog/techie helpers.

  19. Praise and thank God for blessing us so much more than we could earn or deserve! In all of our days, and all of our ways…⁰0 THANK YOU HEAVENLY FATHER! 💕

  20. Have not received Sunflower Seeds in some time. I tried to subscribe but I get the message your email already exists. Can you help please.

  21. Thank you for not forgetting me in your mailing list. It is a wonderful day. May God bless you now and forever, Sister Melanie. With love and gratitude.

  22. Thank you for sharing that lovely story. What a Lucky little boy!
    I am thankful that somehow Sundflower Seeds has reappeared back in my inbox. It had been missing for months. Am so grateful for that, for you and for all of God’s blessings.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Sr. Melanie!

  23. Melannie, how grateful to be receiving your blog again. I have soooo missed it!

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Carole. With an e

  24. I too am delighted to find you in my in-box this Monday morning! I am thankful for more than I can ever name… life and faith are right at the top, however.

    Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all,
    Mary N.

    1. Grateful for dearest friends. For my community of faith and love at St James’s Episcopal Church. For five years of sobriety. For having done some good things creatively since ’21. Grateful for prayer, defined by George Herbert as [am tweaking the pronouns] God’s breath in us returning to its birth. And grateful for this month of November, which has its own austere splendour.

  25. Hi Melanie,
    I was so happy to receive this Thanksgiving message!
    I have been trying to continue to receive Sunflower Seeds…to no avail.
    I always loved reading them and all of a sudden they disappeared .
    I will join again on the enclosed subscription !
    Thanks blessings to you and I am grateful for your inspirational blog. Josita

  26. I am so sad to say that in spite of multiple attempts over the past few months, I am not able to restart my subscription to your weekly messages. The message is that my email is already in use…
    [email protected]

  27. Deaer Sister,
    Still haven’t received my Monday Sunflowers and hopefully will arrive soon! Been getting it from a Friend!! You have madeThanksgiving extra special as every day. Today’s reflection on “Living Faith” was good also! Love and prayers, N. P.S.
    Tried to subscribe and said I ready was!

  28. Dancing in Apt 408 this morn to see the return of Sunflower Seeds. Thank you and God bless you Sister. Melanie! Welcome back to us as Frank and I celebrate. Our meeting 65 years ago on Nov. 22nd. Being introduced by friends.
    The thank you song from Godspell brings memories of taking our 4 children to see
    It live on stage twice in their youth. They were so grateful.
    God is there for us in good times and in our struggles, giving us strength and hope
    Peace of Christ to all. Marilyn and Frank Woidat

  29. Thank you for this blog! I was once the child in the story and then the parent. My gratitude bursts for the capacity we have for memories, for life’s big events and small ones. They all carry significance. And the song, All Good Gifts, brought me to tears. I remember when it was new and we sang it in college chapel. So many friends come to mind! Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.

  30. Mel, I am so happy to receive this blog, this is the first I’ve been able to receive in a long time. And how lovely to begin Thanksgiving week with your beautiful thanksgiving prayer. And I look forward now to continuing to receive your blogs,

  31. So glad to have your blog back! I really enjoy your inspirational reflections and have missed them. Please keep them coming!

  32. I am so thrilled and thankful to have received this blog in my email once again. I truly have missed your Monday morning devotional! Thank you for remembering me!

  33. Lovely to receive your blog again and to read others’ comments again – it’s like rejoining a known community again. God bless all.

  34. I had just been thinking a few days ago that I had not seen your blog in sometime. What a gift today to receive this Thanksgiving bog. I look forward to continue receiving your new and improved blog.
    With a grateful heart I wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving.

  35. Thrilled to be receiving your blog again. A real thanksgiving gift. Thanks Sister and your team! Sr Francel snd

  36. You are back, dear Melannie. I have so misses your Monday Morning Sunflower Seeds. Whenever they now come it will be a brighter, more holy day. So wonderful that you found those talented women who were sent to help you. Angels in disguise, I am certain…blessing you and overflowing to touch and fill our lives. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving full to overflowing with the abundant gifts of our dear creator. Peace!

  37. It has been quite a while since I last read your blog and was wondering what happened. Thank God your back with more inspiring stories and reflection.

  38. So surprised and happy to see your blog in my inbox. For that I am grateful. I look forward to more. Your uplifting messages mean a lot.
    Thanksgiving blessings to you.

  39. What a delightful surprise to get the email that you are up and running again! I look forward to your weekly reflections.

  40. Thank you, for coming back. I need you and your thoughts to brighten and give us encouragement through the day/nights . God bless you as you guide us.

  41. Dear Melanie,

    Glad to be remembered on your list. I do want to stay subscribed. My co-workers have missed your weekly blogs.
    We have many things to be thankful for.
    Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving.
    S. Maureen

  42. Thanksgiving miracle to have you back.
    Technology is not my friend. I am
    so thankful for all the people that helped you so we can follow your Blog once again. Blessings to you and all your fans.

  43. I’m thankful for the 5 S’s in my life: simplicity; service; solitude; serenity; and smiles across the miles- we’ve taken a few hits this year and still have some unresolved conflicts, but those 5 S’s will help us to better cope and resolve the trauma and stress, the pain and sadness, the bitter experiences, and the fear and grief!

  44. Thankful for my family and for memories of those no longer with us. All good gifts was played at my wedding during offertory when my grandparents and husbands favorite aunt and uncle presented the gifts. What a sweet remembrance now almost 44 years later!! Thankful that others are receiving your email again. I wish I were one of them! I will keep trying

  45. So pleased to see your blog again. I was dropped for some time and couldn’t get back hooked up. Hope I continue to received your emails! God Bless you.

  46. Welcome back, Melanie!
    What a great way to celebrate each new day…Sunflower Seeds.
    God bless you and your sharing.
    Sr. Regina Alfonso, SND

  47. Wow, I hope you see just how thankful you made so many people. Thank you for your persistence in getting this email back up and running. Happy Thanksgiving to you Sister and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this.

  48. I’ve missed your blog with its wisdom and poetry. Thanks for persevering and for those who helped bring it and you back. Good to remember that the Greek root of eucharist is thanksgiving, that G. K Chesterton thanked God for all sorts of things through the day, that some Indigenous Americans (who base their lives on a spirit of gratitude) do likewise in a regular manner. I recall being thankful on the day I was fired from a job, because I had the freedom to go elsewhere. Not long after that, I met my future spouse in a new city, in church.

  49. I have missed your blog and so grateful that it is back. May God bless you Sister Melanie for all that you do!

  50. My face is smiling today after reading your blog after so long. Thank you and may God continue to bless you with health and strength to continue your ministry.
    Thanksgiving arrived early at my house this year with lots of family, dogs and love. I am so grateful that I have such a loving, rambunctious family and extended family to enrich my life.

  51. Hello Sister,
    I was afraid you were not well, so glad to see that you are still smiling and writing your blog. I’m grateful for many blessings – children, grandchildren, spouse of 50 years, health, positive attitude and all of God’s graces. I actually have a note pad that I keep on the table and jot down the smallest things I’m grateful for each day – like putting my feet on the floor in the morning, talking to one of my children on the phone, the smell of fresh brewed coffee, – well you get the drift. That way when a challenge arises, I know I can get through it because the end result/lesson will be another thing to send gratitude to God! Thanks for all your wonderful ideas and soul searching questions. Gives me something to think about and grow spiritually. God bless you.

  52. Thank you for explaining why going to church services is attractive to me and doing it in a way I can share with others.

  53. Dear Sister Melannie: Yipee! You’re back! What a wonderful birthday surprise (it’s today) when your blog popped up in my email! So thankful for it. I would look at it on your website that I had bookmarked, but without the email reminder, I often fell behind, usually weeks at a time. I just spent an hour catching up and now hopefully with the weekly email, I’ll stay more current. I wish you and your community of sisters a very happy and prayerful Thanksgiving! And to all your blog subscribers as well. And to quote Sr. Joyce Rupp, who ends her blogs with ……..
    Abundant peace!
    P.S. The email came into my Gmail account, which is my alternate account. My main one is hotmail, but it is okay to continue having the blog come into my Gmail. I check both daily.

  54. I saw on a license plate this morning: WHEEE_EEEE. That is exactly how I felt when I received your email and at that point did not have time to read it as we were on our way for JoAnne’s CAT scan. It is also how I felt after JoAnne’s CAT Scan and she was cancer free once again — good for another 4 months. And that is exactly how I felt when we celebrated with ice-cream! And finally that is how I felt when I read your email and “wheee_eee” you’re back!!!! Of course there are so many more things to be thankful for. But I bet there is a maximum # of characters on this comment page! Oh, one other thing: thankful for you Melanie! Peace!

  55. I am so happy to finally be on the receiving end of your blog. I signed up awhile ago but nothing came, perhaps because of this transition. I look forward to receiving them so this is indeed a special Thanksgiving gift. Thank you for blessing us with your gifts of wisdom and grace, Melannie.

  56. Grateful for a clear biopsy in the past few weeks. And for our son safely walking away from a bad car wreck caused by someone not stopping at a stop sign. We are a very blest family – again. So many blessings each day. For these we give thanks.

  57. Wow, how good it is to know you are back with us. I have missed you and your beautiful blog. I am certainly giving thanks to God for you, sister Melanie. Blessings, love and prayers. Sister Regina.❤️🙏👍🥰

  58. Thank you so much, Sr. Melannie!!
    I look forward to your blog every Monday, so happy to learn more from you.
    Happy thanksgiving!
    Thanks Almight God!

  59. Dear sister Melanie great to have your back on your blog ! Have missed it ! Thank you lord! Happy thanksgiving Melannie! You’re back!
    I am most grateful for this blog and you in my life. Thank you !

  60. Dear All of you who commented this week, letting me know you have started to receive my blog in your email once again.
    Thank you for letting me know–and thank you for your enthusiasm! And another BIG THANK YOU to my “Tech Guru,” Lina, for managing to send out over 4,000 emails to my subscribers. She tells me she still has more to go so hopefully many more of your will be receiving my blog again soon!
    Getting my readers back is just one more thing I am VERY grateful for this Thanksgiving!
    Love, Melannie

  61. I’m thanking God for your being able to produce and send out “Sunflowers” again. I pray for continued success!

  62. Thank you Sister Melanesia for the Thanksgiving message was very beautiful.. Happy that your blogs will be coming.

    Sister Lydia,SS.C.M.

  63. I have missed your email blogs from Sunflower seeds and was glad to see it back in my emails. With my wife of 49yrs passing away in July, my life has turned upside down. I
    struggle everyday and Pray for Gods” help and strength. I will continue to look for your emails.

    Thank you,
    Jeffrey Fowlkes/ Philadelphia, Pa.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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