Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Day is more than "Turkey Day"! Give Thanks to the LORD for He is Good!

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The word "thanks" in New Testament Greek is the basis for the word we have for "eucharist". During the Mass or the Divine Liturgy at the Preface Dialog beginning the Eucharistic Prayer/Anaphora, the priest says, "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God", and we respond, "It is right to give him thanks and praise", or, "It is just and right." In effect the priest is addressing us as congregation and saying, "Let us do the eucharist!"

Thanksgiving is deeply ingrained in the entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. It is simply what we as Christians do! We give thanks to God.

Fr.Joachim Studwell, OFM at the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy

Fr. Patrick Gawrylewski, OFM (right) and Fr. Brendan Wroblewski, OFM during the Eucharistic Prayer at the chapel of Assumption BVM Parish

Thanksgiving Day is far more than its nickname, "Turkey Day!" It is about an attitude of life. Giving thanks and forgiving someone are both might antidotes to bitterness in human life. Not just the proverbial "counting the blessings", as good as that might be. Just giving thanks!

It takes our attention off ourselves and focuses us on Another, in this case God. Hopefully we have been reared to be grateful -- grateful for presents, sending thank-you cards, showing appreciation to people in our family, at work or in school.

Giving thanks just makes plain sense -- and it's good for mental health, besides. Grateful people are happy people. They notice small things about people and take notice of them in a positive way. People of thanksgiving notice the details of life and express gratitude. As the 12 Step Program calls it cultivating the Attitude of Gratitude!

And so it is with the Lord. Maybe we can look at the New Testament reading (above) again, where St. Paul the Apostle deliberately writes that we are to give thanks in ALL circumstances (please note, not for all circumstances, but in all circumstances)! That means we acknowledge God is supreme and greater than any and all circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I'm grateful for Him, first of all! And for my Franciscan brothers, my family and my friends, for the many who have trusted me and allowed me into their lives through ministry, for all the good things that the Lord has lavished upon me. And I am grateful for my vocation as a Franciscan friar and priest.

What are YOU grateful to the Lord for this Thanksgiving Day?

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