April 29, 2022
Feast of Saint Catherine of Siena
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord,
For the next four weeks as Disciples Together on the Way we’ll turn our attention to the theme of thanksgiving. No, not the annual holiday with turkey and the cranberry sauce but, instead, the reason for that holiday, that we are always to give thanks to God our Father for the many blessings we have received. In this first week our challenge will be to thank God and thank a person every day for something specific.
For the Christian disciple the theme of thanksgiving is essential. It stands at the very heart of our faith and our worship; the word Eucharist itself means ‘thanksgiving offering’. Being thankful is an acknowledgement of God’s goodness and love, as well as his greatness and power. If we don’t practice thanksgiving, we run the risk of forgetting that all good things come from God and, thus, that we could be distancing ourselves from God himself. Practicing thanksgiving in our prayer life can be a means of keeping us connected to God, maintaining our focus and attention on him.
I know that it can be difficult to thank God at all times. We can tend to think only of ‘big’ things for which to offer thanks, like obvious ‘spiritual’ blessings, answered prayers, or even miracles. If we think these are the only things to be thankful for, we will have a difficult time indeed. We must first remember that we are always beggars before God. Everything we have is a gift from him, even the things we take for granted like our homes, our clothing, our families, our jobs, our money and, even, our very existence. No good thing comes to us but by his hand. Thank him for these.
I recommend the practice of taking a set of rosary beads and instead of saying Hail Mary’s use each bead to mention something for which we are thankful. If we do this we will have to name 60 thanksgivings. We will need those ‘little things’ if we want to accomplish that task.
This will have several positive effects. It will teach us to be more appreciative of these daily things which, in turn, will help us be more positive. It will also make us more generous because we will realize that these things aren’t really ours to begin with. It will also help prioritize things in our life, to put first things first. And this final reason is the most important: it will help place God at the center of all things in our world. It is a practice of giving him the glory he deserves.
Then, and here is this week’s challenge: Pick a person each day this week and think of something about that person deserving our thanks. And then do it. Tell him or her of your appreciation. This will be pleasing to God and will build that brother or sister in love.
God Bless you, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing