“It is right and just to give thanks to the Lord our God.” We recite these words every time we celebrate Mass and they should be a constant reminder to us to walk always in a spirit of thankfulness.
Each November, as we Catholics come to the close of our Church year, our country observes a national holiday to help us reflect and celebrate the many blessings we enjoy, both individually and communally.
We are certainly blessed in the United States. We enjoy freedoms that many throughout the world can only hope for and, even with all the difficulties we are now experiencing with the economic crises, we still have much for which we are grateful: our life itself, a gift from God; family and friendships which offer us so much support and affirmation; our civic communities which assist us in so many ways and offer us opportunities to assist one another; our parishes, schools, outreach centers and hospitals which make God’s love so present and evident day in and day out; our Catholic faith which keeps us connected spiritually to God and to each other.
Yes, current times are difficult and many are struggling, but because of all the blessings we enjoy, we are confident that we will weather the storms, find new hope in the future and continue to be held closely in the heart of our God.
We also listen intently to the words of Jesus, “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.” Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to reach out to the suffering and most desperate in our society; what good we can do for the hungry and isolated during these times!
Recently, I was moved by the wonderful response of our Catholic school children in the Charleston area who managed to collect almost three tons of food in their recent drive and the concerted effort of over 20 Christian churches on Johns Island, including Holy Spirit parish, who fed almost 2,000 people last Saturday. These are only two isolated instances that I was able to observe, but I know that this outreach occurs in every part of our diocese.
Let us never simply focus on our own difficulties, but always look to the needs and concerns of others. May I ask you as well to remember with thanks our priests who serve our diocese. In this Year for Priests, our Holy Father has asked us to pray, support and give thanks for the ministry they offer us; I am especially grateful for their many sacrifices and hard work as well as those committed religious, deacons and lay ministers.
Remember also, our service men and women, especially those who will not be anywhere near home during these holidays; we are truly thankful for the sacrifices they make for us.
Let us pray well this Thanksgiving Day, and do our best to give thanks with those and for those we love.
May this time, which in the minds of many begins that season of preparation for the great feast of Christmas, keep us always aware of those in need and may we be willing to respond with open, willing and generous hearts.