Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am taking a look at the readings for the mass on Thanksgiving. And I was struck by the profound call to prayer in every reading.
The first reading is from the book of Ben Sirach and it opens up by calling us to praise the Lord saying, “And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth.”
How often do any of us bless the Lord? The answer is probably for most, if not all of us, not nearly enough. How much do we pray? Do we know how to pray? If you’re not sure how to pray, how to bless God, or how to simply praise him, rest easy, for Holy Scripture gives us the guidance to do so.
In fact, if you’re looking for some “how to” guides, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a general audience on June 22, 2011, and said to them, “Indeed the Psalms teach how to pray. In them, the word of God becomes a word of prayer — and they are the words of the inspired Psalmist — which also becomes the word of the person who prays the Psalms…The Psalms are given to the believer exactly as the text of prayers whose sole purpose is to become the prayer of the person who assimilates them and addresses them to God.”
So, St. Paul writes, in First Corinthians: “I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way.”
How often do we give thanks to God for our faith, after all, it’s a gift? How often do we give thanks to God for finding us a spouse who loves God? How often do we give thanks for our family members who have faith; or better yet, return home to the Lord like the lost the sheep? Let us be reminded of the countless hours of prayer and tears of St. Monica over her son, Augustine, oh how much her heart must have lept when he turned to the Lord.
Want to know how to give thanks to God? Psalm 126 is a semester course of giving thanks to God for all that he bestows:
When the Lord restored the
fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb!
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy!
He that goes forth weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Ps 126:1–6.
Pope Benedict explains, “In our prayer we should look more often at how, in the events of our own lives, the Lord has protected, guided and helped us, and we should praise Him for He has done and does for us…God accomplishes great things, and whoever experiences this–attentive to the Lord’s goodness with an attentiveness of heart–is filled with joy.” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 12, 2011)
And when we do this, we’ll be the one at the end of the Gospel who returns to give thanks to Christ.
16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 ¶ And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Lk 17:16–19.