November 17, 2006


Giving thanks beyond the upcoming holidays


In less than a week, millions of Americans will pile into their cars and minivans, hop on airplanes or opt for other modes of transportation as they visit family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving.

With that holiday right around the corner—for those keeping track—that means Christmas is slightly more than a month away.

Can it be possible that another year has come and nearly gone so quickly?

For those looking for a unique way to approach Thanksgiving and the upcoming Advent and Christmas season, here’s an exercise worth considering: Open up your 2006 personal appointment book—or any calendar that has kept track of your life—peruse it, and reflect for a few moments.

After that thorough examination, one would hope, we each should have a clearer picture of the gifts and blessings that our Creator has bestowed on us and our loved ones during the past year.

Was it a new love, fresh career, a newborn or adopted child, or even a financial windfall?

Did we laugh a lot, shed some tears and smile often as we tried to live each day to its fullest?

Were we Jesus to others? Did we see Jesus in others? Just as important, did we make time each day to offer up a quick prayer thanking God for being with us on this rollercoaster ride known as life? Admit it: There have been challenges, but somehow, you have made it through them. And looking back, you know you were never alone.

Thanks to the pilgrims who arrived in America on the Mayflower and the Indians they befriended, Thanksgiving has become a time to reflect with gratitude on God’s gifts to each of us.

Yet, while we’re a grateful people, it should also be a time to recommit to being people of compassion, under-standing and commitment:

• Compassion for those who have less and go without many of life’s basic necessities: food, clothing, medical care and shelter.

• Understanding for those who are lonely, sick, unemployed and poor.

• Commitment to helping the least of our brothers and sisters by sharing our time, talent and treasure whenever those doors are open for us to do so—not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but every day.

Many parishes have coordinated efforts with area organizations to offer Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy. We applaud all who plan on contributing again this year. But why not take it a step further and inquire about how you can assist soup kitchens or other charitable organizations beyond the holidays?

As our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminded us, we express gratitude at Thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, but we should remember to share them with the needy.

During this time of year, the most vulnerable in society must not be forgotten, he told us.

But it is also wrong to push them to the back of the line beyond November and December when they lack the basic necessities of life.

As Catholics, we are called to stand with the weak, the poor, the lonely and the infirm.

Our faith teaches us to shoulder the responsibility for people who cannot do it themselves.

Our commitment as Christians has no bounds. We are called to live our faith 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

It goes beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas and this season for sharing.

It never hurts to be reminded of life’s basic lesson that all are God’s children and should share in God’s gifts.

Make it your holiday mission, and beyond, to make a difference.

As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta taught us, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

— Mike Krokos

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