Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week, we find ourselves in a time where we become vividly aware of all that we are thankful for. We can think of our families, our friends, even the simple things like the food, shelter, and clothing we enjoy. We remember during this time that a spirit of gratitude changes everything. Without it, we can be bitter and resentful at all the things we don’t have. With it, we do not dwell on what we are lacking or what we have lost, but rather on all the good that has been given to us.
As a parish, a piece of news that should inspire a great deal of gratitude is that we will have a transitional deacon assigned to us beginning this weekend – Deacon John Crozier. For those who might not know, the final stage in the preparation for priesthood is to be ordained a transitional (as opposed to a permanent) deacon and exercise ministry for 6 months in a parish. Each weekend, Deacon Crozier will be joining us to preach, perform baptisms, and assist as an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion. It is a great honor for the parish, as the diocese is trusting all of us to support him and help him as he prepares for that moment when he will be elevated to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood. Deacon Crozier is originally from St. Agnes Cathedral Parish in Rockville Centre, he studied at St. John’s University, and is currently completing his studies at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. I have come to know him over these past years, and I can attest that he is an incredible young man who will bring a great deal of enthusiasm and joy to our parish.
On a personal note, I find myself full of gratitude for another reason as well, and that is because I had the blessing of celebrating my sister’s Nuptial Mass this past Saturday. At some point in our lives, all of us find those moments where we see spread out before us all that God has given us. To be gathered together with so many friends and family, to see my sister and her (now) husband so happy, to be able to exercise the gift of my priestly ministry in blessing their union – it was all quite powerful. I couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of unworthiness for all that God had given me.
I think much of my family felt the same way, and the joy was palpable throughout the weekend. What came to my mind though, was that as much as there was so much joy and gratitude, it was easy to forget to whom we should be grateful. Sure we were grateful to parents, grandparents, and all those who have done so much for us, but I’m not sure many of us turned our first thoughts to God. It pains me to think of how many family members failed to attend Mass on Sunday, thinking, “well Saturday should count,” as if it were some painful obligation. Like every family, we have had plenty of ups and downs, and I couldn’t help but wonder if so many of the challenges we face are made more difficult because the instinct is not to turn to God. We forget the one whom we can thank in good times and ask for help in bad.
As we come together in a similar way this Thursday, enjoying family and friends and lots of good food, maybe we ask ourselves if we are grateful above all to the one who deserves our gratitude the most – God. Perhaps we get to Mass on Thursday morning, or spend some extra time in prayer with our families, recalling God’s place at the center of our lives. Maybe rather than rushing to shop on Friday, again we go to Mass or show our gratitude to God in action. Whether we have had a difficult year – losing someone we love, enduring misfortunes – or a good year, let’s be sure to thank God this week for all His blessings, and we will find a peace and joy only He can give.
Yours in Christ,