THANKSGIVING ALLA ROMANA – DEAR LORD, HOW HAVE YOU BLESSED ME? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…..

THANKSGIVING ALLA ROMANA

As is customary for EWTN employees, tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, and Friday are holidays, so this column will take a rest – but not the author, as you will see!

Thanksgiving has always been for me, as it has for millions of Americans, one of my favorite holidays – a holiday from school or work, families traveling great distances to be together, the amazing aromas emanating from kitchens nationwide, parades and football games and, well, you know what I mean. I fully realize that football this year may be more of a divisive factor than one of unity! How very sad!

My favorite memory is when, at dinner, just before grace, each member of the family had to say what we were thankful for. The last time I celebrated Thanksgiving in America was in 2009! However Thanksgiving celebrations in Rome are truly memorable, very special days.

Mass is an integral part of the day. On occasion, as I will tomorrow, I have attended two Masses, one at the church for American Catholics in Rome – St. Patrick’s – and a second Mass at the Pontifical North American College, our seminary in the Eternal City. NAC, as the college is called, makes Thanksgiving a very special occasion by starting the day with a late morning Mass and then offering a traditional American turkey dinner to seminarians, faculty, staff and invited guests. There is always an additional Italian touch to this menu as we start with an antipasto and pasta! Fifth year students – ordained priests who have returned to Rome for a fifth year of studies – serve the meal. As pumpkins pies are paraded into the dining room, seminarians sing or recite “An Ode to Pumpkin Pie.”

One highlight of the day, at both St. Patrick’s and the North American College, is the reading of the Presidential Proclamation by an American Ambassador. This year, Ambassador-designate Callista Gingrich will read the proclamation at the end of Mass in St. Patrick’s and also at NAC during lunch. (By the by, the word ‘designate’ appears before her name until she presents her Credentials or Letters of Credence to Pope Francis. She will do that in December.)

It is amazing how many Americans do not know of the Presidential Proclamation! George Washington issued the first such proclamation on October 3, 1789. It began – and ended – with a reference to God… “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor” The president then assigned a special day that year “to be devoted to thanking God for His beneficence.”

DEAR LORD, HOW HAVE YOU BLESSED ME? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…..

Dear Lord, how have you blessed me? Let me count the ways…..

My wonderful family, my beautiful faith, my ocean of friends, the friends throughout your great universe whom you have brought into my life.

Does a day pass that you do not bring some unique, new person into my life?

Does a day pass that I am not enriched ad blessed by some amazing event which you placed in my path as a learning moment, a time of prayer, a period of silent Thanksgiving?

You blessed me at my baptism when you brought me into your beautiful Catholic Church and a faith to which I have always tried to be faithful.

You have blessed me by enriching that faith over the years, allowing me to work for you every day, to bring your Word and your teachings and your Truth to so many.

My words, by comparison, are very insignificant but truly heartfelt. I am filled with both thanksgiving and joy as I write these words, as my mind’s eye overflows with images of each family member, of friends here in Rome and around the globe, of the magnificent events that daily fill my life.

I sign most emails and letters with “God bless,” and then on another line “Joan” – but I read it silently as “God bless Joan.”

And You have blessed me! Heartfelt THANKS!

And Thank You FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.
(Part of a Christian hymn composed by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

 

 

EVERY TIME THE EUCHARIST IS CELEBRATED, THE WORK OF REDEMPTION IS CARRIED OUT – POPE TO PRESIDE PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND DRC

EVERY TIME THE EUCHARIST IS CELEBRATED, THE WORK OF REDEMPTION IS CARRIED OUT

At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his new catechesis on the Eucharist, and said today, “we consider the Mass as the memorial of Christ’s passover from death to life. In the Bible, a “memorial” is more than a mere remembrance of a past event; it is the making present of that event, which enables us to share in its saving power. At every celebration of the Eucharist, Jesus pours out his mercy upon us, as he did on the cross, in order to renew our hearts, our lives and our entire world.

In the words of Vatican Council II, said the Holy Father, “as often as the sacrifice of the cross is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.”

He noted that, “each Sunday, we enter into Christ’s victory over sin and death and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given a share in his very life. By making present the Lord’s paschal mystery, the Eucharist strengthens us to bear witness, like the martyrs of old, to his triumph over death and to love others as he does, freely giving of ourselves for their good.”

Francis explained that, “When we enter the church for Mass, we should think to ourselves: “I enter Calvary, where Jesus gives his life for me,” We should respond to this “in silence, in weeping,” and also with joy, because we have been saved from death and sin.

“Imagine,” he exclaimed, “that you are actually at Calvary. In that moment, you would look up and know that the man upon the cross is Jesus. Would you allow yourself to make chit-chat or take pictures?”No, because Jesus (is there)!”

The Pope was clearly on his message of last week when he decried the use of phones during Mass to take pictures, saying our attention should be entirely on what is happening at Mass, on what the priest is doing and saying.

POPE TO PRESIDE PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND DRC

Pope Francis tomorrow, November 23 in St. Peter’s Basilica, will preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This event is organized by “Solidarity with South Sudan” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, and invites Christians across the world to join in prayer for peace in the world, and especially for South Sudan and the DRC, two conflict-ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of violence and terrible humanitarian crises.

Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s aid organization, about the situation in the two African nations and asked him why it is important to raise awareness.

Michel Roy says it is hugely important to break through the indifference that surrounds so many ‘forgotten conflicts’ and situations of terrible social and economic injustice in various parts of the world.

“We have chosen South Sudan and DRC as two examples of peoples and countries that are suffering so much from conflicts that they have never wanted and of which they are the victims” he said.

Roy goes on to describe the political and economic interests that fuel the conflicts and continuing lack of security in both of those countries which have caused millions of people to be displaced and to suffer all the consequences displacement entails. There are also the interests of neighboring countries and, in many cases, multi-national organizations at stake: “To stop a war once it has started is really difficult,” he said.

The needs of the people are many, Roy explained, they are hungry, they need food and medical assistance, and while FAO has launched a humanitarian program it is only partially funded and far from sufficient.

Schools and churches have been destroyed, young people have been recruited into militia groups and the lack of international support means there is not hope in sight.

“The needs are humanitarian – also in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur and many other nations, there is urgent need for humanitarian response which the international community is not ready to give it seems” he said.

Roy speaks of the need to mobilize politicians at all levels and to put pressure on the international community “to find ways to come out of this tragedy”.

“Peace can be reached, it’s a question of will,” he said.