In the coming days we priests will be quite busy – there is nothing unusual about that. We will be quite busy hearing the confessions of our children both in the school and in religious education. We will be trying to get our hearts ready for the Season of Advent and for Christmas. I firmly believe that getting our children to regular confession is important because they need to form good faith habits at a young age.
One thing always stands out in children’s confessions. Most of what they confess revolves around the family. The majority of the difficulties children seem to have in life originates from conflicts with siblings and parents. As I counsel them I try to explain to them the importance of family. I tell them that right now their brothers and sisters may be annoying but later in life they will become a blessing. I impress on them that as the big brother myself I thank God everyday for my younger siblings and my older sister too. I remind them that it is family that will stick with us through thick and thin. We are grateful for our friends but it is family that will never leave us.
When we examine our lives we all realize that most of our problems come from our families. At the same time the majority of our blessings also come from our families. However, it is very easy to take our families for granted. The Italians have an expression for taking someone for granted. The phrase they use is: “Dare qualcuno per scontato.” We can translate that phrase as “To give someone away on a discount.” In other words, when a husband takes his wife for granted he is saying: “My wife is for sale, 50% off.” Unfortunately it is easy to give away our families on a discount. That is why it is good to have specially designated days when we explicitly express our love and gratitude to those we love.
As we are still basking in the afterglow of this Thanksgiving, let us make a genuine effort to express our heartfelt thanks to each and every member of our family. Someone has said: “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Let us take time to hold on to fond memories in the family. Sadly too many people hold on to bad memories and hurts that were given either deliberately or unconsciously. Let us erase those bad memories and let us mend some fences, if necessary. After all, the God above has forgiven us over and over again, and continues to hold on to only what is good in us.
A few weeks ago we heard the gospel reading that narrated the story of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. Nine of them were so taken up with the incredible blessing they received that they forgot the Giver of that blessing. They were happy that they could rejoin the human family again but had no thought for their Benefactor. Only one – a Samaritan – returned to give thanks. We can detect a tinge of disappointment in Jesus’ voice as He asks the grateful man, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"
I wonder whether that story is being repeated in our society and in our time. People gather in their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving and yet the churches are not full for the Thanksgiving Mass. Shouldn’t we start the day by participating in the Eucharist which is the greatest act of Thanksgiving? Who deserves our thanks more than our Lord and God? All that we are and all that we have come from His loving hands. We need to gather around the Eucharistic Table to give thanks to God before we can sit around the dinner table to express our thanks to one another. During this season of Advent, we make a commitment to Sunday Mass.
Let us remember the words of John Vianney who was also known as the Cure of Ars:
Jesus Christ found a way by which he could ascend into Heaven and yet remain on the earth. He instituted the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist so that he might stay with us and be the Food of our soul; that he might stay with us and be our Companion.
I want to thank each and every one of you for all the ways you give to our parish. Thank you for building up God’s Kingdom here in Park Ridge. I want to thank our parish staff who work very hard and serve with great competence and dedication. I thank our numerous volunteers without whom we could not do the Lord’s work. I thank our benefactors who make it possible for us to accomplish the good that we do.
Have a heart-warming Thanksgiving holiday! Do enjoy your family and friends. May God bless you today and everyday!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...