As the liturgical year in the Church ends it’s fitting that we also celebrate our secular observance of Thanksgiving during these final weeks of Ordinary Time. We have much to be thankful for even amidst the terrorism, violence and moral degradation that we are currently experiencing with great intensity. In the next two weeks I challenge you to take some time to sit down with your family, which for many of you will be just husband and wife because the kids are all grown and gone, and together, make a list of everything in your life that you should be thankful for. Now if you’ve never done this you’ll probably be inclined to write down all the ‘good stuff’ first and then maybe even stop there. But if you do that, you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to be thankful for all those challenges, crises, failures, mishaps and serious predicaments that you’ve experienced in your life. Now you may wonder why I suggest you be thankful for those times of turmoil and trouble in your life; the answer is simply that if you are honest in your memory and reflection of those events you will probably recognize that it was during those times when your prayer life got a jump-start or intensified if you were already firmly spiritually engaged and at the end of the troubled time you very likely felt closer to God than before because you could look back on what got you through those times and realized that it was largely through the grace of courage, perseverance, faith, optimism, patience, resolve, hope and joy that you stayed the course and survived, a better person for it. We should be especially thankful for those times when we have been truly tested in our resolve to live the Life of Christ in our lives and to remember how difficult was His passion and death, which He endured for us. What I’m telling you in a round-about way is that you should be thankful for those life-changing experiences that were painful, difficult, challenging, stressful and burdensome as well as for all the ‘good things’ we easily recall in thanksgiving, most of which are material in nature, and, as such, are also temporal. It’s the ‘bad things’ that are spiritual in nature and also eternal. Then at your family Thanksgiving meal voice your gratitude to the God who has given us everything and remind yourself that His most important ‘gifts’ are those trials that strengthen our soul, fortify our spirit and elevate our existence to the realm of the spirit where our lives are truly lived whether or not we are aware of that most of the time. Remember that we are pilgrims on a journey of faith to return to our Creator and the path we take and the footprints we leave behind will be the only things that matter when we come to our judgment. Thank you for all you do for our parish and for your great faith and support. Please continue to pray for our clergy and ministers as we do for you each day. May God bless you and give you peace.
Pastor’s Points is a bi-weekly feature about faith, family, and life, from our pastor, Father James Flynn. It is published in our parish bulletins, as well.