Happy Feast Day! Today we celebrate the patronal feast day of our parish (as well as our 90th anniversary). I hope this is a joy-filled day for all of us, where we give gratitude for the many ways we have grown closer to God through our parish.
Speaking of gratitude, I think it’s fitting that our feast day always falls right around the Thanksgiving holiday, when gratitude is at the forefront of our minds. For Catholics, gratitude is much more than something we practice for one day every year. For us, gratitude is a way of life, a constant disposition of thanksgiving to God for all of the blessings of this world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:18, tells us, “Every joy and suffering, every Event and need can become the matter for thanksgiving which, sharing in that of Christ, should fill one’s whole life: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances.’” We believe that every blessing in this life is a gift from our God, a sign of His generous love for us, and we should never receive such a gift without giving thanks to the Giver.
But if gratitude is a way of life, we also believe that it’s a virtue. And a virtue isn’t a feeling that we happen to have, but rather it is a habit, a behavior that we consciously choose to practice again and again. That means that even on days when we don’t feel particularly grateful, we can still choose to be grateful people. In fact, I firmly believe that it’s important that every single person, as a part of their examination of conscience at the end of each day, should name each blessing they can think of from the day and thank God for it. If we do this, we will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of blessings God gives us each day. This is particularly helpful in times of struggle or dryness; counting our blessings will help us to understand just how present and active He is in these times when we might otherwise struggle to sense His presence. In short, we are called to be grateful people, and we become grateful people by practicing the virtue of gratitude on a daily basis.
As we celebrate our feast day today, please know how grateful I am for each one of you, and how grateful I am that God has allowed me to be your pastor.