Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. –Colossians 1:12–20
Today I am thankful that I can be thankful.
On the Easter Vigil where I came into Holy Mother Church I reflected on the fact that I had literally spent forty years in the wilderness. I had been chasing after false gods and idols and was totally oblivious to the miracles that God had created around me. I would have fit in easily with the hardheaded Israelites, ignoring every blessing and focusing on even the most trite inconvenience. I was suffering from spiritual autism, locked into only the material world and undiscerning of the spiritual world around me. I did not realize that I was afflicted with this eternal life threatening illness, nor did those around me inform me of my malady. After reading Franks Sheed’s awesome book Theology and Sanity I came to see my insanity for what it was. As an atheist the concept of thanksgiving was alien to me, I knew I should be thankful but to whom was I to be thankful to? It is difficult to give thanks to random eddies of atoms coalescencing into a cell. Oh chaos I thank you for we are wonderfully made just doesn’t sound right. How can you be thankful for your flukeness, your undesigned accidental existence. Luckily, as most atheists I did not dwell too much on the actual meaning of these unbeliefs. Thank you God for bringing me into the promised land of your Church.
This morning I had my true Thanksgiving feast, I went to Mass and thanked God for everything he has done, which is literally everything and my wife and I and millions of people around the world received Him Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.
I also realized today that if the Book of Exodus described my first forty years in the wilderness then my autobiography has also already been written in the Book of Judges. I follow God and I fall down, I follow God and I fall down, I follow God and I fall down, and lets not forget the part where I follow God and I fall down. I think it was Father Rutler who talked about that if he had his way, that in the Stations of the Cross after Jesus falls down; he would add and he got up again. May I continuously also always get up again.
Following along with Bible books that describe my life, I hope that my epitaph might follow along the lines of:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. – 2nd Timothy 4:7–8
In a related story of Eucharistic thanksgiving the latest issue of my diocesan magazine the St. Augustine Catholic has an article about a pre-puritan Catholic Thanksgiving in Florida.
When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menendez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site. The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that the Indians imitated all they saw done.
…The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was freaked out, and that, as he spoke, the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts.
I replied, Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal.
In closing I give thanks for creation, redemption, salvation, the Incarnation, sanctification, supplication, conversion, vicarious atonement, meaning to suffering, the seven sacraments – especially forgiveness of sin, beauty, truth, justice, mercy, Carmelite spirituality, and the relentless love that God has for us.
For my wife and children, mother, father, brother, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and friends. For the Saints, Priests and Bishop of my diocese, and our Holy Father John Paul II. For music, reading, laughter, the five senses, and job satisfaction. For snow as a kid but not having to contend with it now. I also give thanks for the thousands of things that I have left out.
I also give thanks to blog writers, my blog readers, my blog commenters, and those who have blogrolled me or linked to me.
I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving.