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A Beacon Of Light… Thanksgiving

November 17, 2020 Frontpage No Comments

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON JR.

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He is currently the parochial vicar of St. Andrew Parish in Colchester and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Lebanon. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

I remember when I was a child my mother always telling us to mind our P’s and Q’s. The phrase minding your P’s and Q’s is an English-language expression meaning “mind your manners,” “mind your language,” “be on your best behavior,” “watch what you’re doing.”
This was especially drilled into us by always saying thank you. As children, we take for granted what we have and we need to be reminded to say thank you. Maybe because there was an expectation of always having what we needed.
One of the greatest lessons I learned about being thankful for what I have involves my family. When I was in high school my parents decided to become foster parents. They wanted to do something to help others in need. I remember the day the first foster child arrived. His name was Timmy and he was five months old, but he was like a newborn. He had been left in his crib for five months while his mother lived her life of drug addiction.
It was sad, because Timmy had been born a drug-addicted baby. We watched as he experienced the stages of withdrawal. I spent many nights holding him and rocking him to give comfort. Soon, however, the arrival of Timmy would open the door for Ty, Dylan, Brian, Shane, and Angel.
Soon these six foster children were transformed into my adopted brothers and sister. Having been the foster parents for these children, my parents could not send them back into the darkness from where they came. My parents adopted all six children and they became my siblings. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to deal with this dramatic change in our family life, but I thank God for my wonderful family. I have had the privilege of performing the marriages for my two brothers Tim and Ty. I have also had the great privilege of baptizing their children. In fact, on November 15, 2020, I will baptize my newest nephew, Ezekial Breton.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
With these words, St. Paul reminds us of our responsibility to show our thanks to God. How do we do this? Not only are we called to give thanks for our earthly family, but we are called to give thanks to God.
How do we show our thanks to God? One way is by living our faith. Living our faith invites us into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We fulfill this most visibly by our participation in the life of the Church, especially in the liturgical life. The liturgy is where we touch the divine. In the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Church’s document on the liturgy, we are reminded of the intimate connection the liturgy has in our lives. This document reminds us that: “The Eucharist is the Source and summit of our Christian Life.”
Through our participation in the Sacred Liturgy of the Church we are given the opportunity to give thanks to God. The liturgy raises our minds to the Lord.

Moments To Give Thanks

When do we give thanks to God? Every prayer is an act of thanksgiving. Our day is filled with moments to give thanks to God. Waking up each day is a moment to give thanks. The birth of a new child is a moment to give thanks. Seeing a child receive his First Holy Communion is a moment to give thanks. Seeing a penitent come out of the confessional with a glow of relief — that is a wonderful moment to give thanks. Seeing the union of man and woman as husband and wife is another one.
The Ordination of a new priest is an especially important moment of thanksgiving. The Ordination of a priest ensures us of our continued union with Christ.
Every encounter with the Lord is a moment to give thanks. The sacraments are moments of sanctifying grace where we are given that opportunity. The Mass is the moment where we give thanks to God. The very word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. Within the Mass are several moments to give thanks. During the Liturgy of the Word we hear God’s Holy Word presented in the readings. We conclude the Liturgy of the Word with the General Intercessions. These prayers are another moment when we present our prayers and give thanks to God.
The Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass is the primary action of thanksgiving in the Mass. The Eucharistic Prayer begins with the Preface. The Preface begins with a dialogue between priest and people where we give thanks to God. The Preface of Thanksgiving Day is a beautiful prayer:

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
You have entrusted to us
the great gift of freedom,
a gift that calls forth
responsibility and commitment
to the truth that all have a fundamental dignity before you.
In Jesus, through His death and Resurrection,
we find our ultimate redemption,
freedom from sin,
and every blessing.
As so, with hearts full of love,
we join the angels, today and every day of our lives,
to sing your glory as we acclaim….

The Preface dialogue unites us and places us in the proper mindset to give thanks. Having arrived at the central moment of the Mass, we will soon participate in the moment of consecration. During the consecration, Heaven and Earth are united, and we get a glimpse of into the heavenly Kingdom.
This is our opportunity to present a thanksgiving prayer to the Lord as we prepare to receive Him in Holy Communion. After receiving Communion, we return to our seats and are strongly encouraged to give thanks for the food of everlasting life. We have just received God Himself! We can thank Him for saving us from sin and death. We can thank Him for giving us a share in the Resurrection.
Another way we can show our thanks to the Lord is by staying after Mass and offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the Mass we participated in. It always saddens me to see so many people rush out after Mass. We need to encourage the faithful to stay a moment to give thanks for what they completed. The Sacrifice of their salvation has just been offered for them!

Offer Thanksgiving

As the yearly celebration of Thanksgiving Day approaches, we find ourselves in a unique situation. We are battling the COVID-19 pandemic and this year has included many changes in the way we are living our lives. With that being said, we have many things to be grateful for. We are grateful for family and friends. Grateful for our faith! Grateful for the Eucharist, the spiritual food that nourishes us. During this special time, may we offer thanksgiving to God for all we have!
And in closing, may we pray a prayer of thanksgiving:
“Father in Heaven, Creator of all, and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks. Thank you for all the graces and blessings you have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage, our food and shelter, our health, the love we have for one another, our family and friends.
“Dear Father, in your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
May you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

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