BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
Thanksgiving is a celebration that truly marks a fundamental attitude upon which our great nation has flourished. It is the attitude of gratitude. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in gratitude for the fruits of the earth, new friendships that were formed, as well as the freedom and opportunity that coming to these shores brought. After that time, through its formal proclamation, it has been celebrated as a holiday in our nation. But Thanksgiving is not only a specific time of the year; it’s an attitude of the heart. It’s an everyday celebration!
Recently Bishop McClory, in celebrating the Mass at which he was made bishop, said in his closing remarks, “I thank God ahead” for what will be in my life. He pointed out that he already is thanking God for his guidance in this new adventure and he’s thanking the people of his diocese who will be his strength in his new work. His words of thanks at this specific time encompassed not only all that has been in his life but also for all that will be in the future.
Perhaps most of us have some of this same sentiment – thanks for what has been and what is now. But have we thought of thanking God for what will be – thanking ahead! We have so much to be grateful for in this life each and every day. Sometimes when we stop to think of all our blessings simply saying “Thank You” to God hardly seems like enough in light of all God’s gifts to us in the past and for all that will be ours in the future. And so we take the example of the bishop and say “Thank God ahead.” This example of gratitude highlights thankfulness as a daily, faithful echo of generosity which has its obligations. It demands we be generous, in turn, to others. So many “nourishing people” in our lives are part of the role models in God’s plan to be there for us. But sometimes people and blessings are so close we unintentionally look past them. That we cannot allow ourselves to do! We are meant to be living signs of the belief that all is God’s and we are meant to be God’s thankful disciples no matter what! This thankful attitude will bring us to a place of humility and joy that God desires us to live every day. Just as Jesus told us that we are to forgive many times, we should offer thanks just as many times. We can’t say “Thank You” enough!
It is well for us to reflect upon Christ’s example of giving thanks to his Father. Recall that when he performed the miracle of multiplying bread for the crowd, we are told that he first gave thanks to his Father. At the Last supper Jesus gave thanks before changing bread and wine into his Body and Blood. We might look at the prayer Jesus gave us — the Lord’s Prayer. Although this prayer does not use the word “thanks,” it is definitely a prayer of thanksgiving. For example, “Hallowed be thy name” is to give God praise and within that praise, our gratitude. When we ask God for our “daily bread” we are grateful for today’s bread, but we are also looking ahead and thanking God for the bread we will receive in the future. Every petition of this prayer leads us to an attitude of gratitude.
Thankfulness is a virtue of which St. Paul speaks often. “Dedicate yourself to thankfulness. Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Give thanks to God the Father through him.” Scripture abounds in words of gratitude such as:
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.
Let us come before the Lord with thanksgiving and extol him.
Rejoice always…give thanks in all circumstances.
Finally, let us not take our blessings for granted. Don’t allow our minds to get wrapped up in our struggles and all the things we must do and then forget to thank God adequately. Let us remind ourselves of all we have and can become because of God’s grace and that God asks only that we be thankful in return and act upon that thankfulness in dealing with others. With the conviction of Bishop McClory, we pray, “Thank you, God, for yesterday, today and tomorrow!” Thank God ahead!!