From the Rector's Desk

Reverend Father Lawrence Mariasoosai, O.M.I.

Week of November 21, 2021

 

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, 

We are in the last week of this liturgical year celebrating the Solemn Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe and also observe the Thanksgiving Day. The Feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. Today's Mass establishes the titles for Christ's royalty over men: 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and hence wields a supreme power over all things; "All things were created by Him"; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His Precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, "holding in all things the primacy"; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion. The Solemn Mass also describes the qualities of Christ's kingdom. This kingdom is: 1) supreme, extending not only to all people but also to their princes and kings; 2) universal, extending to all nations and to all places; 3) eternal, for "The Lord shall sit a King forever"; 4) spiritual, Christ's "kingdom is not of this world".  Let us strive every day to be true members of this Kingdom.

In 1621 William Bradford’s pilgrims at Plymouth together with native Americans celebrated the first of what we have come to know as Thanksgiving. What is much less known is how much the pilgrims had suffered to that point. The trip on the Mayflower was miserable due to delays; storms forced most passengers to stay in the hull for much of the trip; and their food ran low. Once in Massachusetts, things remained difficult. Fifty of the original 102 travelers died in the first winter. Disease and other health problems due to malnutrition were common. Nevertheless, in a more bountiful moment, they remembered to give thanks to God. Their example provides us an invaluable lesson.

Giving thanks is one of the most spiritually fruitful things we can do. It is a recognition and a reminder that there is more good than bad in our lives. It is an act of faith in the existence of a good and provident God. It is an antidote to a sense of entitlement, which fails to recognize the generosity of others. It causes satisfaction since it focuses us on our fulfilled needs and desires. It orders our relationship with God since he is due our gratitude. The word ‘Eucharist’ means thanksgiving. Therefore, every Mass is the ultimate thanksgiving feast. The offertory is where we return to God all the gifts he has given us – symbolized in the bread and wine – so that he can in turn convert it to his body and blood and give us his very self. God is never outdone in generosity. How can we not give thanks? The Preface of the second Eucharist Prayer states, ‘It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.’ ‘Always and everywhere’ are important qualifiers. Like the pilgrims, we must be willing to thank God in good times and in bad.

Giving thanks in difficult moments requires much more faith than when we prosper. We affirm God’s providence precisely when it seems least present. We affirm with St. Paul that ‘all things work for good for those who love God’ [Rm 8:28]; and ‘all things’ include the year 2021. Perhaps the height of faith is that of the martyr. He, humanly speaking, has no more grounds for hope and yet can still cry with Job, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!’ [Job 1:21]. While our current situation is not one of martyrdom, it is a moment in which many are suffering especially during this time of pandemic from illness, fear, anger, and uncertainty. The challenges people face are real. That is why it is all the more important to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. You may have to take certain precautions, but do not cancel our nationally established tradition of thanking God. It is in him and from him that we will find healing and blessings – from the pandemic, from national strife, and from whatever else ails us as a nation and as a global community.  It is from him that we will receive the graces necessary to carry our cross. It is in him that all of our life finds meaning. Let us make this year’s Thanksgiving a more profoundly spiritual experience. As a family you could attend Mass, enumerate things for which you are grateful to God for in this past year [Yes, 2021!], and share a common prayer of Thanksgiving. Giving to those less fortunate is another wonderful way to give thanks to God. So enjoy the football, food and family, but let us keep our gratitude to God front and center this Thanksgiving at the same time taking all precautions to keep ourselves safe especially during this pandemic crisis. I wish you all and your families a very blessed Thanksgiving. Many Blessings!

 

Father Lawrence Mariasoosai, O.M.I

 

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