A couple of weeks ago I thought I would get ahead of myself and purchase a few Thanksgiving cards. Imagine my confusion when I could not find any in the card store. Halloween items were in abundance. Costumes, candy and cards for the second most decorated holiday of the year were visible and readily available. And, of course, already there were aisles of Christmas cards and the shelves held the first installment of Christmas decorations. But there appeared to be no Thanksgiving cards. Finally I located a few in a small, remote display.
Coming as it does between Halloween and Christmas I began to wonder if Thanksgiving is becoming a forgotten holiday. It is unlikely that we will forget it entirely. We will enjoy a day off from work, perhaps join family and friends for a delicious meal and enjoy the football games and parades associated with the day. But are we grateful or have we forgotten the virtue of gratitude?
As people of faith we recognize that God has blessed us with many gifts, both material and spiritual. The annual celebration of Thanksgiving reminds us to look below the surface, to pause for a moment and to notice all we have been given. So, I took some time to consider the many gifts I have received. I am grateful for:
• The gift of life and my parents’ love.
• My Catholic faith.
• Family and friends who enrich my life.
• Our first freedom — freedom of religion, now sorely tested on many fronts.
• The Catholic Church, our mother and teacher.
• The privilege of being called to the priesthood and the episcopacy.
• Wonderful people — priests, religious, laity — who have walked with me on the journey of faith in Buffalo and Ogdensburg, Syracuse and Rochester and in the towns, cities and villages, parishes and homes throughout upstate New York.
• Health and happiness in serving God’s people.
• The blessing of our new saints — Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha.
• The Year of Faith, which calls us to know, live and share our faith.
• Blue skies and sunny days.
• A walk in Onondaga Lake Park.
The readings used for Mass on Thanksgiving Day remind us of how generous God is to us. He is the source of all our gifts. The author of Sirach praises the goodness of God saying, “He has done wondrous things on earth.” St. Paul directs our attention to Christ. In Him we are enriched in every way for the journey of faith. The familiar Gospel story of the ten lepers brings home the possibility of failing to acknowledge the blessings we have received. Only ten percent, one in ten, of the lepers acknowledged with gratitude the gift of healing.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s pause and notice the good things the Lord has done for us. We have so much for which to be thankful. God has been lavish with His gifts. May we have grateful hearts, hearts that will remember what He has done for us. With the psalmist we pray, “I will praise your name for ever, Lord. Let all your works give you thanks and let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, NY 13202.