My Dear Parishioners,
This week marks the end of the current liturgical year, and the Year of St. Joseph. Next year we will begin a new liturgical year and season with the start of Advent. Because we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of St. Joseph Parish, we will keep the small shrine to St. Joseph in our sanctuary. This week we also celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful opportunity to reflect on all the blessings that God has given us and to make our response back to Him with praise and worship. I hope that you enjoy some time with family and loved ones during this special time. You are invited to join us for a Mass on Thanksgiving morning, November 25th at 9:00 A.M. Please note the time. There will be no 8:00 Mass that day. At this Mass we will continue the tradition of blessing loaves of freshly baked bread and then handing them out after the Mass. It is a way to symbolically carry the blessing of the Mass home with you to your Thanksgiving tables. Please plan to be with us on this special day.
We started our Giving Tree program. This is the annual opportunity to provide gifts to the less fortunate. We ask you to take a “gift tag” off the tree in the sanctuary, which identifies a specific need for the various charitable organizations that we help. Then you are asked to supply a gift card in the amount of $25 – $35 from a department store, or check to St. Joseph (for tuition) to help meet the particular need. We ask that you return the card to the Giving Tree Box – placed at the base of the tree by Dec. 8th so they may be distributed to those in need, with enough time to get their shopping done. If you are not yet coming to church because of Coronavirus concerns, you do not need to have a gift tag in order to submit a Giving Tree Donation. You can put the gift card or check in an envelope and put it in the weekly donation lock box in the back hallway, drop it off at the rectory, or put it in the mail slot of the rectory front door and we will see that it gets distributed to one of our charities. The people of this parish have always been very generous with this program and we are very grateful for your support.
God Bless you,
With Thanksgiving approaching [this month], we would like to take a moment to reflect on the significance of gratitude in the Christian faith. The Bible contains over 150 verses about gratitude, and countless more reflecting a general attitude of praise to the Lord. Why do we give thanks to God, and why is it important?
Christians are Commanded to Give Thanks
We give thanks, first and foremost, because it is God’s will that we do so. God’s Word is replete with exhortations to thanksgiving, both in the Old and New Testaments, and especially in the Psalms:
Philippians 4:6 – Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Psalm 118:1 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.
It is God who has created us and sustains us; God has provided for our salvation through His sacrifice, has given us grace, and shown us love. As God’s love for us is unconditional and everlasting, so too should our gratitude be never-ceasing, regardless of our temporal circumstances.
Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe.
James 1:17 – [A]ll good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
Gratitude: An Appropriate Response
Gratitude is the appropriate response to God our Creator, Lord, and Savior, who, in His goodness, redeems and sustains us. Conversely, ingratitude is at the heart of sin, associated with those who are in rebellion against God, as the Scriptures say:
Romans 1:21 – [F]or although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.
Following Christ’s Example of Thankfulness
By practicing an attitude of thanksgiving in our daily lives, believers follow the model set by Jesus himself, who expressed gratitude to the Father throughout His life and ministry (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17–19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). It is for this reason that the Eucharist begins with a prayer of Thanksgiving, after the example of Jesus at the Last Supper.
As Pope Francis has remarked:
Gratitude is always a powerful weapon. Only if we are able to contemplate and feel genuine gratitude for all those ways we have experienced God’s love, generosity, solidarity and trust, as well as his forgiveness, patience, forbearance and compassion, will we allow the Spirit to grant us the freshness that can renew… our life and mission. Like Peter on the morning of the miraculous draught of fishes, may we let the recognition of all the blessings we have received awaken in us the amazement and gratitude that can enable us to say: ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man’ (Luke 5:8). Only then to hear the Lord repeat his summons: ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be fishers of men’ (Luke 5:10). ‘For his mercy endures forever.’ May the Word of the Lord strengthen your own devotion and inspire you to practice gratitude in your life.