In the 17th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel we find an incident in the life of Our Lord which is the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Thanksgiving Day. It is the story of the 10 lepers who had been made clean, only one of whom returned to give praise and thanks to God.
This story reminds me that as our national holiday of Thanksgiving approaches we need to give praise and thanks to God for His many gifts. Our greatest expression of thanks and praise is attendance at Mass on Thanksgiving which for many is an unofficial holy day of obligation. What better way to thank God for all that we have received from Him than to join in the Church’s great prayer of thanksgiving and praise?
Current events provoke our anxiety as we watch the economic situation in our country and throughout the world; the violent and ceaseless fighting in Afghanistan with the continued death of our American service people and the men, women and children of Afghanistan; the assaults on the dignity of the human person, marriage and family life; the drug violence in our own community; the personal reasons we have for sadness: the sickness or death of a loved one.
The person of faith, however, sees God in every event and like the leper, who returned to give thanks, praises God for His goodness. As I celebrate Mass on Thanksgiving morning, with the people of St. Anthony’s, St. James and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes, I hope to do just that.
I will thank God for:
• the gift of life and the love of my parents that generated, nurtured and sustained my life;
• the gift of my Catholic faith lovingly taught at home, in Catholic schools and seminaries and nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the sacraments;
• the call to the priesthood, heard at an early age, and 35 years of service as a priest to the people of the Diocese of Buffalo;
• five wonderful years as the Bishop of Ogdensburg;
• the grace to serve the priests and people of the Diocese of Syracuse for the past year and a half;
• the outstanding priests, dedicated religious and exemplary members of the laity who inspire me and with whom I have been and continue to be privileged to work in the Lord’s vineyard;
• my loving and supportive family;
• longtime friends who are always available to listen, encourage and strengthen me in my vocation;
• the 14 young men currently studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Syracuse;
• the numerous opportunities to meet the faithful during my visits to parishes, schools and institutions in our diocese;
• the privilege of being a citizen of the U.S. and the freedoms that we all enjoy;
• the opportunity to enjoy fall foliage along Interstate 81;
• walks in Onondaga Lake Park;
• the beauty of the Finger Lakes;
• so many more blessings too numerous to mention.
In the midst of this Thanksgiving season, I hope you will take the time to remember God’s love for you and then be grateful for it. His love for us is manifested in numerous ways large and small, ordinary and extraordinary. Take a few minutes and make your own “thanksgiving list.” If you are a parent, gather your children and as a family talk about the gifts you have received. Teach your children to be grateful. We often take much of what we have for granted, good health, freedom, a beautiful day, friends and family, etc. Make your list and recognize God’s bountiful goodness in ways both large and small. And then give praise and thanks to God.
During the years that I was Pastor of St. Louis Parish in Buffalo, I came to know more about the parish patron who was a 13th century King and Saint. In his writings, St. Louis suggested that we, “Give thanks frequently to God for all the benefits he has conferred on you that you may be worthy to receive more.”
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family. Celebrate it with grateful hearts!
If you have a prayer intention that you would like me to remember, please mail it to me at P.O. Box 511, Syracuse, N.Y. 13201-0511