Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the November 15, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Fifty years ago this December, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Eucharist, a word in Greek that means “thanksgiving,” is “the source and summit” of our spiritual life as Christians. Giving thanks, which we do in this month, is therefore the very core of our Christian life. Giving thanks is the source and summit of our spiritual lives.
It should come as no surprise that many of the great saints of the Church counsel that our prayer each day should not begin with a petition for a specific need but with giving thanks for a particular blessing that we call to mind. I invite you to make a list of reasons to give thanks. To get you started, these are the blessings in my life that I will be remembering in this season of Thanksgiving and acknowledge God’s many graces.
1. Family and friends. Each of these persons has been given to us by God, who brought us into the world in this time and place. They form us for good or ill, and create the environment in which we discover who we are and are not. These relationships have the power to humanize us and open us to God’s call.
2. Our nation. We just completed an election cycle and should step back from all the partisan rhetoric and marvel at the rich diversity of our country, and give thanks for all those who make it work: our elected officials, public servants who protect us, members of the military who sacrifice so much for our freedom. We also benefit from volunteers, those who step forward to help out to supervise at school crosswalks, as teachers’ aides, in hospitals and charitable and civic organizations.
3. The beauty of nature and those who work the land. Need I say more?
4. Religious Sisters. There simply has not been a level of education in which I was not taught by at least one Sister. They have made me a better Catholic, priest and bishop.
5. Our priests, catechists, secretaries, parish and chancery staff. In countless ways they do so much behind the scenes and too often go unrecognized. They are often underpaid and overworked, but they keep things moving.
6. Health care workers. You only need to visit a hospital or care facility to see first-hand how these dedicated people, inspired by a concern for the suffering, contribute to society.
7. Catholic Charities. I have said it over and over again: Catholic Charities helps the Church put its best foot forward. They are the Church in action and make us proud.
8. Schools. By this I mean both our Catholic schools and the public schools. All are a blessing to our families and our children. I have taken a special interest in our Catholic schools because I know from personal experience how they contribute to the faith life of the Church and invigorate our parishes.
9. Children. They keep us young, energetic, hopeful and busy!
10. You, our parishioners and benefactors. Since my arrival just over two years ago, you have demonstrated time and again a willingness to trust and support my servant leadership. I am especially grateful for the prayerful vigils you kept during the mediation process and all you continue to do to welcome me into your parishes and homes. All of that is so very consoling and encouraging.
Indeed, giving thanks is the source and summit of our spiritual lives. I pray that your own Thanksgiving celebrations may be a time of great spiritual renewal.
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