Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Grateful or Greedy?

Father John J. Lombardi

One time I gave a blessing to a pilgrim from Vietnam who, it turns out, was out of work--and married-with children. A minute later he wrote a check to the Grotto for $500. Wow! True gratefulness!

In this Sunday's Gospel (St Lk. 17:11-19) Jesus heals ten lepers and only one comes back -and he was an "outsider"-a Samaritan-"enemy" of the Jews. He was the only one who expressed gratefulness…Now: are you grateful or greedy? Do you show your thankfulness to God, others? Do you live a life of Thanksgiving?

The Lord Jesus is our healer: He is God and therefore when He wills He may heal us. This is the supernatural message of today's Gospel: God heals-whether in body or soul. He is our healer-our "Medicine Man". Go to Him for healing of mind, body or soul and He will heal you-one way or another.

In an enlightening interview with Dr Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at Univ. of California-an "expert in gratefulness" (never knew there was such a thing-but, come to think of it-we need 'em!) he stated that there are clusters of characteristics which build up gratefulness-like optimism, hope and happiness; and negative ones, like entitlement and deservingness which block against gratefulness. He also said that writing out our received blessings actually helps us focus on how much we've been blessed. He mentioned that gratefulness is really attached to spirituality and also that people like Mother Teresa actually felt grateful for having served. Lastly, he said we have to make a choice for gratitude-"It doesn't depend on circumstances or genetic wiring we don't have control over. It really becomes an attitude that we can choose that makes life better for ourselves and for other people."

Are you making the choice for gratefulness? Are you choosing to serve others as a grateful response to life and God?

What are some other lessons of the Gospel and Gratefulness?

Are you Grateful or Greedy: I went on vacation this Summer and at the end I wanted more-vacation, time, fun, swimming, etc. I should have been grateful I even got a vacation, but... We need to constantly guard against avariciousness-always wanting more-by being appreciative of what we do have-so much, esp. here in U.S. of A.

Grace before and after meals: Do you pray in thankfulness for the food you eat-whether at home or at a restaurant? Don't be shy or embarrassed.

"Gratefulness is the Heart of Prayer" is a book title by Br David Steindl-Raast. The title says it all: is it true for you? Do you take time to express to God your thankfulness? Daily?

The Grotto is a place of healing: So many people come to the Grotto for the water (to drink or use it to bless with); to receive the sacraments and simply to experience the beauty of God's creative Love in Mary's Mountain-Grotto-it all heals us humans. Take advantage, and think about "expressive gratefulness": a lot of times we are shy about expressing our religion, desires and gratefulness. Because of sterile modernism or rationalism, doubt, half-heartedness or what others do or don't do-and the anti-piety of today we, as Catholics, sometimes do not express ourselves bodily, vocally, physically and spiritually as much as some pilgrim-Latino, Africans and Asians do, who bow, kiss icons, genuflect, immerse themselves in holy water and walk barefoot amidst our grounds and so forth. Be a Catholic conservationist but not a conservative when it comes to expressing Thank-full-ness! Have we attained a sterile spirituality, afraid to express ourselves? Know as a Catholic we have a full range of bodily-spiritual ways to worship God and say "Thanks!" -Just do it.

Prayer after Communion: This is called "Prayer of Thanksgiving"-during Communion time or after Mass don't fail to say "thank you" to the Lord for Himself.

Lepers I've met: In Molokai-the Hawaiian Island where Blessed Damien "the Leper priest" heroically ministered and died of leprosy-I met people with leprosy. In Calcutta at Mother Teresa's home, called "Gandhi-Ji", and also in Tanzania I met many persons with leprosy. What I remember from all these folks is their smiles, friendliness and welcome. They are people with tremendous diseases and dissonance from others and yet they had dignity and Faith and love-- were just as friendly as anyone else-so: don't be afraid to reach out and touch somebody-they might just change you!

Hospitals: Pray for and help Catholics in healing-hospitals who are beginning to be coerced to procure abortions for insurance companies and secular outfits. It is wrong-crazy!-to force healing institutions to make them help kill children. Help them help: not hurt!

Don't think it, write it: the written reminder of blessings may help you form a heart and mind of gratefulness. So: count your blessings everyday/nite and be more grateful-and form the habit of gratefulness.

"Give thanks in all things" (I Thes 5:16-18) -the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon was in extreme pain and his Bible-believing friend asked him, "Did you thank God?" Spurgeon was flummoxed. Thank God for pain? His friend replied-"Thank God in all things". Don't count or separate anything from thanking the Lord: all can teach us gratefulness and how to get to Heaven!

Thanksgiving in America is usually a time to give thanks, of course to God for His many blessings and commemorate the Pilgrim's Meal of Thanksgiving with the native Indians. Some in our land, however, have tried to subvert this by removing God and thanksgiving to Him. We must be aware of this subversion and the secularization of legitimate celebrations of God in our land.

America the Beautiful: We live in the most beautiful country in the world-physically and people-wise: give thanks and never take this for granted.

Eucharist means thanksgiving: that's what the Greek word eucharistia means--for Mass. Be grateful to the Virgin Mary for saying "Yes" to the Lord and bringing her-our-Eucharistic Jesus. Every time you go to Mass (hopefully more than just on Sunday) you give thanks to God Almighty for His many blessings.

Healing Prayer-: Most Blessed Trinity-- may your healing Light and Love show and flow thru my body, soul and mind. May the Precious Blood of Jesus pulsate thru my heart and all my veins and body? May the beauty of the Virgin Mary, the joy of the saints, the ecstasy of Heaven and the Bliss of all angels and saints surround me with peace and tranquility. May the Mercy of Christ free me from all hindrances, clots and sins, any darknesses which block me from Him and health and holiness: Amen…Now: Relax. Release. Receive…

***********Briefly Noted*********

Evil today? In two New York Times articles (Oct. 7) I was aghast at the darkness reported on the front page. In the eastern Congo there are epidemic rapes and torture of women there-some 28,000 recently; many in front of others forced to watch, rapes with impunity and viciousness. One described the wanton violence in the starkest terms: "They want to destroy women." A doctor interviewed was absolutely exhausted in the treatment of raped women there. Because of Original Sin some men have the propensity and "drive" to dominate, defile and do evil to others, especially women. This may be called transgression. This is especially seen in the Sudan experience whereby men defile women in the pursuit of power, control and domination. It's like seeing a window and they want to break it; or a snow covered field and ruin it-just because it's there. St Augustine in his "confessions" narrated a kind of this propensity to evil wherein he contemplated with a friend stealing a pear "just to do it"-in other words, to transgress. This is unfortunately seen in widespread pornography and child abuse today-it is only getting worse. Men need to be men: i.e., form themselves in Christ's Way and guard against evil tendencies. Women, of course, need do the same.

Beware: In another Time's article I read about a new video game is out called Halo 3. It is dangerous-from the Microsoft Company. Many children are getting this video which glorifies violence and bloodshed, spins off apocalyptic themes and capitalizes on youth's vulnerability and especially boys. Revenge and mayhem are main themes in it. Even though some evangelicals are catering to teens playing the video-trying to help them-one teen said: "It just fun blowing people up." This time of year when we see ghoulishness and Halloween: be different and counter the culture with Christ's Peacemaking and non-violence! Protect your children and filter what they watch: they might become it!

Defilement of our Faith: In San Francisco a homosexual group, the so-called Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence (cross dressers as "nuns" in full habit) mocked the Lord and our Catholic Church by receiving Holy Communion in the Most Blessed Redeemer Church from Archbishop Nideraurer at Mass recently. This was, mind you, not out in a public place but within Church property, and is an active assault upon the Catholic Church. Now, think: what if this same group attacked an Islamic mosque or Jewish synagogue-there would be outrage and demonstrations galore. But some feel it is permissible, doable, to attack the Catholic Church-the so-called last great prejudice in America. There must be a response-from us, for prayers and penance against this outrage. A friend out there said they need support-help!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi