Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Gratefulness is the Heart of Prayer

Father John J. Lombardi

Eucharistia is from the Greek, meaning "Thanksgiving". From this word we derive the name of the most important, needed and powerful prayer of all time--the Mass, otherwise known as The Eucharist.

This week-which many souls consider the most likeable holiday or "holyday" because of its relaxed nature-- we stop to give thanks for so many things. As Catholics and as human beings we need to give thanks. Why? Because:

  1. This is what saints and holy people have always done-eucharist-give thanks especially to God; it is part of our nature-to acknowledge that blessings and essential things in life are provided for and to us. This is what the Plymouth pilgrims did when they arrived in this country-even in the midst of famine, death and challenges-they thanked God for His Divine Providence. Many people today, though, want to remove God from the picture of Thanksgiving. But secularists and atheists cannot be so successful--just remember: His name is on all our money --"In God we trust"
  2. Another reason to give thanks is that we creatures can often get, or stay, selfish: we forget the many blessings God-and others-have given to us, and we often think of how much more we want or supposedly need. Thus we have to regularly take time to express our thankfulness so as not to lose sense of the abundance God and others have given us. When we are genuinely grateful, we have less time, then, to become selfish, self-pitying and self-occupied, a phenomenon, unfortunately, which our culture so often manipulates.

Consider, and give thanks:

  • To our God: He, Ultimate Reality, the Most Blessed Trinity, is the One "thing" all people search and yearn for-even when doing evil things-and despite so much futility and "grass-is-greener-on-the-the-side" mentalities-- He is all around us, above and below us, a Trinitarian and blissful, uncreated Being of Love and Friendship. He is our Creator- Father, our Redeemer - Son and Sanctifier - Holy Spirit. And He wants us not only to love, serve and follow Him, but for us to become like Him! Can you think of anything, Anyone, to be more thankful for?!
  • To our Church: Jesus is the Divine Founder of our Holy Catholic Church, which now continues vibrantly today, with the heroic and inspiring help of the Slavic Pope, John Paul II. The Church is the physical and spiritual extension of Jesus on Earth-as He said He would never leave us orphan. Let us thank God for the myriad blessings He extends by the defined dogmas and doctrines which enlighten minds and elevate souls, the sacraments which bring us to the Lord, the saints, saintly and holy places and shrines and beautiful churches, the sacramentals, the compassionate and challenging teachings of the popes, the artists and musicians and priests and religious and lay-faithful who labor for Holy Mother Church.
  • To the Virgin Mother of God: St. Hildgarde of Bingen (+1097) described Mary as "A respendent jewel of unclouded brightness." Yes, that is what Mary is, and was: a pure, and light-filled body and soul-like a diamond-which held the Uncreated Light of Jesus and spread Him radiantly to the world. There was no sin or defilements ("clouds") in her, like us. Thank God for His maternal love through the Virgin!
  • For our Country: Of all the lands in the world, from Europe to Asia to South America to Africa, The U.S. of A. shines above all others. Her mountains, seas, plains and rolling hills; her various groups of peoples and customs, her native and immigrant peoples are awe-inspiring, we should be thankful for all this. And Maryland is often called "America in miniature." Some of us may say, "Why live anywhere else?" Amen!
  • For our air - (some are on respirators or have asthma).
  • For our food - (2,400 people, mostly children, starve each day).
  • For the shelter over our heads - (there are homeless in big cities, small towns and around the comer).
  • For all the modern conveniences and modem helps - (phones and cars and computers and electricity), and all the many "small" and subtle blessings and graces God gives us.

Give thanks for all---eucharistia!

Read other Sermons by Father John J. Lombardi