“And be thankful”
It was nearly 2,000 years ago that St. Paul wrote these short words to the Christians in Colossae, a community in what is now the modern day country of Turkey. Those words certainly make sense this week during our annual celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.
However, St. Paul’s message to us is not just applicable in this Thanksgiving season. This wise guidance, elegant in its three-word simplicity, should illuminate every moment of every day.
In the Liturgy of the Hours, the perpetual prayer of the Catholic Church, at the very beginning of each day’s prayer an Invitatory Psalm, usually Psalm 95, is recited.
The Psalm is introduced with a verse from Psalm 51, “Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise.”
Following this introduction, the very first words of Psalm 95 are:
Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.
Every person throughout the world who prays the Liturgy of the Hours, which as a minimum includes all 400,000-plus priests and 45,000-plus deacons in the world today, begins their daily prayers—they “open their lips”—by giving thanks and praise to God.
It is prudent for us to give thanks, to “approach him with praise and thanksgiving,” in this special season of Thanksgiving. But we would do well to not only thank God on the fourth Thursday of November, but also at the start of each day, and at every moment of every day.
Why? Because we are all richly blessed! No matter what our material blessings are in this temporary physical world; our spiritual riches, now and in the eternal world, know no limit.
Is this true? Look at the second line in Psalm 95 above: “shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.”
God’s saving act is now. It’s not something in the past, it’s not something in the future. “The Rock who SAVES us.” The Psalmist uses the present tense “saves” for a reason. God’s saving of us is something that happens in every moment of every day.
As we journey through the Thanksgiving holiday and as we approach the Church’s “happy new year” with the First Sunday of Advent, let us resolve ourselves to start every day with a spirit of thanksgiving.
“And be thankful.”
Deacon Rob Rysavy
President, St. Mary's High School