Laughter entered the locker room of a local YMCA where three women — two having finished their workouts and one heading to the pool — bantered on a brisk Monday morning. Laughter is the best medicine, one of the women said. When a day starts like this, I know it’s going to be a good day.
A colleague at the Chancery asked for prayers for a sibling dealing with a serious illness. The sibling, just in his 40s, remains upbeat and grateful for the gifts which he has been blessed with. A new widow, greeting friends and relatives at her husband’s wake, savored the memories from a long marriage.
Seventh-graders at Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf created paper turkeys for Thanksgiving that spell out, in Spanish, the reasons they have to give thanks.
Whatever trials we face from day to day, each of us has reason to give thanks this Thanksgiving weekend. Certainly the challenging times in which we live are unsettling. Exercising an attitude of gratitude lifts our spirits, fosters generosity toward others and attunes us to God’s presence in our lives.
Our Diocesan Prayer: Vision 20/20 — From Pentecost to Pentecost begins with a call to gratitude. “Send your Spirit, O God, to open our eyes … That we might see clearly your gifts and blessings, past and present, and so be filled with gratitude….”
In a catechesis on the Eucharistic Prayer during his March 7 general audience, Pope Francis said that “this central Prayer of the Mass teaches us, little by little, to make of our whole life a ‘Eucharist,’ that is, an act of thanksgiving’” (http://w2.vatican.va).
Do yourself a favor and really listen to the presider as he prays the Eucharistic Prayer during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that “although our offering is in itself imperfect, joined with the offering of Christ it becomes perfect praise and thanksgiving to the Father” (www.usccb.org).
Prayer is to gratitude what physical exercise is to a healthy heart. Our faith tradition offers an abundance of prayer “exercises,” including reading with Scripture. One of our readers recommends her favorite Scripture, Numbers 6:22-26. “The Lord said to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
“Gratitude should always be our first response for all the blessings in our lives. Our second response should be to live a life worthy of the blessings we receive,” Catholic author and evangelist Matthew Kelly says in his book “Resisting Happiness.” What are some concrete actions we can take, considering our gifts and our limitations, to live a life worthy of the blessings we receive?
Michael Chan, a member of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City expresses his gratitude, in part, through his poetry. His gratitude flows from having been blessed to immigrate to the United States to build a good life for his wife and children. Born in a cave in China that served as a clinic during World War II, he appreciates the diverse society that has evolved in the United States since the first pilgrims arrived in the 17th century. We share his poem here:
A Thanksgiving Poem
With hard work and love of the land
The pilgrims had come, persevered and toiled
Harvest was plentiful and time for rejoicing
With cinnamon rolls, kolaches and pies
Roasted turkey and vegetables from the land
They gathered together to dance and play
Giving thanks to their God and to the land
We too have come from different lands and seas
To fulfill our callings and to strive for our dreams
With love and kindness to one another
We endeavor to welcome each other
To work hard and to share our dreams together
Thank you America
Thank you for the land of plenty
And the precious opportunity to fulfill our dreams
Happy Thanksgiving to All
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor