Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:16-17).

There are certain patterns to our public prayer. You may have noticed that at Mass and the other liturgies of the Church, the prayer is almost always directed to God the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are also patterns in the content of the prayers. Normally, we begin by offering praise and thanksgiving to God, acknowledging what He has done and what He continues to do, and then asking in intercessory prayer for more of His blessings to be poured forth upon us. Notice it is out of the act of thanksgiving that we then ask for God’s intervention and help. This starting point places us in the right relationship to God: It is from Him that all blessing flow. May His name be praised!

The starting point is very important in many parts of our lives. For example, in meetings in which a proposal is made for something new or to try something different I always ask people to start with, “What is good about this proposal? How can we make it work?”  We then move into the question, “What are some of the concerns you have or challenges you see in this proposal?” I have found that the positive starting point leads to a whole different conversation than when we allow the conversation to go negative right away.

So it is in our prayers, in our words, in our actions, in our gatherings and in our lives. We certainly find ourselves in a time of significant challenges: the world-wide catastrophe caused by the Covid-19 virus, the resultant downturn in the economy, the loss of jobs and benefits, the polarization within our country that has brought about significant divisions in our midst, the continuing struggle against the sin of racism, the reality of global warming and climate change and, finally, the “throw-away” culture that treats human life as a commodity and not as gift from God lived as brothers and sisters. If these challenges are the place where we “start” in our lives we can certainly find ourselves in a real “rabbit hole” of negativity. But if we begin instead with an “attitude of gratitude” coming out of a place of thanksgiving, then we have a sure foundation from which we can confront these challenges.

This year more than ever we need Thanksgiving Day to focus on the blessings we have even in the midst of the crises we face. While the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly curtailed how we celebrate this day, it has not curtailed the reasons we celebrate.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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