Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Congratulations to all those who received First Holy Communion last weekend and this weekend! Congratulations to Gunner Mancilman on receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation! Many more youth will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in the coming weeks. Let us keep all of our youth in our prayers!
The month of May is dedicated to increased devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us ask Jesus and St. Joseph to teach us to practice great love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary! This weekend I share with you a reflection on Acts of Thanksgiving. I encourage you to read it through a few times this week!
“Acts of Thanksgiving - Thanking God for all His benefits is a sign of Faith, Hope and Love. Countless reasons for thanksgiving: I will be a witness to You in the world, O Lord. I will spread the know -ledge of Your Name among my brothers, alleluia. (Ps. 17:50; 12:23)
Sacred Scripture constantly encourages us to give thanks to God. The hymns, psalms and the words of all just men are filled with praise and thanksgiving to God. The Psalmist says Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. (Ps. 102:2) The expression of thanks is an extraordinarily beautiful way of relating to God and men. As a form of prayer it is very pleasing to God and in some way an anticipation of the praise we will give Him eternally. We call the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist precisely thanksgiving as a foretaste of the union of eternal happiness.
In the Gospel of Luke we see Our Lord saddened at the ingratitude of lepers who were not thankful: having been cured they forgot the Person Who had restored them their health, their families, their work, their lives. Jesus kept on waiting for them. (cf. Luke 17:11 ff.) On another occasion He is grieved at Jerusalem’s lack of awareness of God’s infinite mercy in visiting it (cf. Luke 19:44) and of His attempts to care for it like a hen sheltering her chickens under her wing. (cf. Matt. 23:37)
Thankfulness is a way of expressing our Faith because we recognize God as the source of all good; it is a sign of Hope because we accept that all good comes through Him; and it leads to Love (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q101, a3) and humility because we acknowledge our poverty and our need. St. Paul makes a special exhortation to the early Christians to be thankful: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:17), and he considers ingratitude as one of the causes of paganism. (cf. Rom. 1:18-32)
St. John Chrysostom points out that St. Paul in all his letters gives thanks for all the good things of the earth. Let us likewise give thanks for the benefits received by ourselves and others, whether big or small. (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. Matthew, 25, 4) One day when we are in God’s presence eternally, we will comprehend with full clarity not only that we owe our existence to Him but that our lives were full of His care, His Graces and benefits, more numerous than the sands of the sea. (ibid.) We will realize that we have reason to be thankful to God and to others. Only when Faith is dead can a person be unaware of these benefits and this pleasant obligation.
Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because He gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven’t what you need or because you have.
Because He made His Mother so beautiful, His Mother who is also your Mother. Because He created the sun and the moon and this animal and that plant. Because He made that man eloquent and you He left tongue-tied… Thank Him for everything, because everything is good. (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 268)
Acknowledging God’s goodness in our lives. The Virtue of Gratitude: Our Lord taught us how to be thankful for even the least of favors: And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (Matt. 10:42) The Samaritan who returned to thank Our Lord went away with an even greater gift: Faith and Our Lord’s friendship: Jesus said to him Rise and go your way; your Faith has made you well. (Luke 17:19) The nine ungrateful lepers were left without getting the best part of all. Our Lord expects us Christians to go and say to Him many times each day Thank you, Lord!
The Virtue of Gratitude forms a real bond among men and reveals fairly clearly the interior quality of the person. Human relationships suffer in the absence of this virtue.
When we are grateful to others we remember their favor affectionately no matter how small it may be, and we wish to repay it in some form. Many times we can only say something like thank you. The joy shown in such a gesture contains our thanks. Our whole day is filled with acts of service and favors from those around us. It costs little to show our gratitude and it does so much good by creating a better atmosphere, improving relationships and making a better atmosphere, improving relationships and making charity easier to practice.
Whoever is thankful to God is thankful to those around him. He is more prompt to appreciate and be thankful for any small favors. The proud person who is always absorbed with his own things cannot be thankful; he feels that everything is his due.
If we are thinking of God and others, in our own homes we will appreciate that the house is clean and tidy, that somebody has closed the windows to keep the temperature right, that our clothes are cleaned and ironed… And if on some occasion one of these things were not as we had hoped, we should be able to overlook it, because the number of times things are pleasant and favorable is immeasurably greater.
When we leave our apartment the porter deserves our thanks for his vigilance, the lady in the chemist shop who gave us our medicine, those who have worked all night to compile our newspaper, the bus driver also… Human life is full of small acts of service. How differ-ent life would be if we were to thank people whenever we paid or charged our bills! Gratitude is a human sign of big-hearted people.
Thanksgiving after Holy Mass and Holy Communion: In our relationship with Our Lord we should thank Him many times every day, because He surrounds us with His care and His gifts: my soul will be filled to overflowing. (C. Journet, The Meaning of Grace) However, there is a very special moment in which Our Lord fills us with His gifts and during which we should be particularly grateful, namely thanksgiving after Holy Mass.
Our dialogue with Jesus at these moments should be specially intimate, simple and joyful. There should be acts of adoration, of petition, of humility, of atonement and thanksgiving. The saints… have constantly told us that the most precious moment of our spiritual lives should be the thanks we give for receiving the Eucharist. (R. Garrigou-Lagrange, The Three Ages of the Interior Life)
At these moments we should shut our hearts to everything that is not Jesus, no matter how important it may be or may seem to be. At times we will feel alone with Him and words are unnecessary; it is enough to believe that He is there in our soul and we in Him. It is not hard to feel deeply grateful and happy and experience our Friend’s true friendship. The angels are present and adore Him in our souls. At those moments the soul is as near Heaven as it is possible to be in this world. How can we be thinking about other things?
On other occasions we can make good use of those prayers found in devotional books which generations of Christians have used to nourish their piety throughout many centuries: the Te Deum. Trium Puerorum, Adoro te Devote, Anima Christi and many more which have been left to us by saints and good Christians truly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.
If we love Christ, Who offers Himself for us, we will feel compelled to find a few minutes after Holy Mass for an intimate personal thanks-giving, which will prolong in the silence of our hearts that other thanksgiving which is the Eucharist. How are we to approach Him, what are we to say, how should we behave? Christian life is not made up of rigid norms… Still, I feel that, on many occasions, the central theme of our conversation with Christ, in our thanksgiving after Holy Mass, can be the consideration that Our Lord is our King, Physician, Teacher and Friend. (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 92)
Our King, because He has ransomed us from sin and brought us to the Kingdom of Light. We ask Him to reign in our hearts, in the words we say today, with the work we have offered Him, in our thoughts, in each of our actions.
In Communion we see Jesus the Physician, and He has the remedy for all our illnesses. We approach Communion as He was approached by the blind, the deaf, the paralytic… And let us not forget that we have the Source of all life putting Himself at our disposal within our souls. He is the Life.
Jesus is the Teacher whom we recognize as having the words of Eternal Life… and in ourselves there is so much ignorance! He is constantly teaching - but we must be attentive. If our imagination, our memory and senses are let loose… we will fail to hear Him.
Through Holy Communion we look at our Friend, the true Friend, from Whom we learn about friendship. We tell Him what is happen-ing in our life, and we always find an encouraging word, a consoling word… At times we ask the help of our Guardian Angel: Thank Him for me; you know how to do it better.
There is nobody better than Our Lady, who carried God’s Son in her womb for nine months, to teach us how to treat Him better in our thanksgiving after Holy Communion. Let us have recourse to her.” (From In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us with great love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
In Christ through Mary,