Here I sit, all fluey, posting Fr. Lawrence's message, as those of you NOT home with the flu (and I know there are several of us in the parish this week!) are singing the opening antiphons. Looking forward to seeing you all next week-- Mat. Donna
Dear beloved in Christ:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
As I was sitting down and tucking into a delicious turkey dinner this last Thanksgiving Monday, I was thankful for many things (including the fact that I was not a vegetarian—or, come to that, a turkey. It’s a wonderful thing to live on the upper end of the food chain). However, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people actually gave thanks on Thanksgiving Day, and if the title of the holiday isn’t a bit culturally anachronistic, for we are not a nation that stresses gratitude to God for our blessings.
When one thinks of it, it is maybe a little odd to have a national holiday stressing a virtue; it would be like us having National Chastity Day, or National Patience Day. No bad thing, I suppose (I would pay money to see a National Chastity Parade along side a Gay Pride Parade). But the point is that we are to do our best to practice the virtues every day, and not just when the calendar mandates a special stat holiday for them. In this sense, for the Christian, every day is Thanksgiving Day.
Or, in the words of St. Paul, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. All of life is a gift, and every day, even the wretched ones, are still packed with God’s mercies. And even on the wretched days, we can still give thanks as they end and say, “Thank God that’s over!” As disciples of Jesus, thanksgiving is to be our natural state. In theological terms, all of life is sacramental, to be received as a unique gift from God, the grateful enjoyment of which brings us into communion with Him.
Sin interrupts that communion, of course, and gratitude is a habit to be learned, often with difficulty. (It was otherwise in Eden.) Our own culture gives us no help with this. It teaches us, for example, that health and long life is our right, and we feel hard done by if we are sick or faced with shortened life span. It teaches us to regard happiness and prosperity and peace as things to which we are entitled, and we blame God if we experience sadness, poverty or turmoil. Other ages were manlier and hardier than ours. Suffering and misfortune were expected as the common lot of mortals, and no one blamed the Most High when they experienced them. One needed bravery to walk the earth: as CS Lewis reminds us, most of human history was spent without the benefit of anaesthetic.
The point is that we modern North Americans must strive to overcome the ingratitude and sense of entitlement built into our culture, and to give thanks to God for all things. To end with a prayer from Garrison Keillor (of Lake Wobegon fame): “Thank You, dear God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough.”
All my love in the Lord,