by Father Mark Goldasich
Thanks, Mom and Dad!
I know I told my folks that over the years but not nearly enough. The older I get, the more aware I become of all my parents did for me, especially the life lessons they taught by word and example.
Two words especially were drilled into me from a young age: Thank you. As a little kid, this verbal expression of gratitude was enough. As I got older, though, my folks taught me how important a written thank-you note was. I’m sure that I whined at that, saying, “But I SAID, ‘Thank you’ already!” Their response was always the same: “That’s great! You should do that. Now, sit down and write a thank you!”
My folks were so “mean” that I didn’t get to play with the gift of a new toy, cash a birthday or Christmas check or spend money gifts until I wrote those darn thank-you notes! And I’m so glad they were strict about this. It made me appreciate how blessed I was that someone would think enough of me to give me a present.
It reminds me of a story of a farmer who brought a load of wheat to the grain elevator in a nearby town. He stopped at a restaurant and sat near a group of boys who were acting up, hassling the waitress and shouting at the cook.
When his meal was brought to him, the farmer bowed his head in prayer. Noticing this, one of the smart alecks decided to have some fun with the farmer. He shouted in a voice that could be heard by everyone in the restaurant: “Hey, old man, does everyone do that where you come from?”
Calmly, the man turned toward the boy and in an equally loud voice replied, “No, son, the pigs don’t.” (Story adapted from “Give Thanks” in Paul J. Wharton’s “Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers.”)
Our yearly celebration of Thanksgiving Day helps us to remain “human” by reminding us to have grateful hearts, to be aware of how incredibly blessed we are. And as we acknowledge our bounty from God, we can express our thanks by responding to the “hungers” of those around us.
For example, the story on page 3 of this issue about the dire needs in Catholic Charities food pantries highlights that hunger is a persistent companion for many people. We can show gratitude to God by not wasting food and by donating generously to alleviate the “food worries” of people less fortunate.
Or the story on page 6 about clearing out the clutter rattled my conscience. I thought, “How grateful I am to have clutter! It means I can say thank you to God by sharing the stuff that I don’t use or even need with those who have practically nothing.”
Let’s pray that the gratitude and generosity of Thanksgiving Day will spread to our “every day.” Use this abbreviated Litany of Thanksgiving from the U.S. Jesuits of the Central and Southern Province as a starting point by saying, “I thank you, Lord” after each petition below:
• For the gift of life:
• For this astonishing and complex planet and all of creation:
• For my family in faith:
• For my family and friends:
• For health and those who care for the sick:
• For food, warmth and shelter:
• For my nation, for freedom, security and peace:
In gratitude for your gifts, Lord, may I respect all life; care for creation; tend the sick, the hungry, the homeless and the migrant; work to create a just nation; and love my neighbor as you have loved me.”
Amen . . . and thank you, Lord!