Give thanks frequently to God for all the benefits He has
conferred on you, that you may be worthy to receive more.
(St. Louis of France)
Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up
past mercies. (Charles E. Jefferson)
The finest test of character is seen in the amount and power
of gratitude we have. (Milo H. Gates)
We never know all we should be grateful to God for.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the many blessings I’ve received, the many things for which I’m truly grateful. Here’s my list, at least a partial list, in no particular order of priority or importance.
• I’m grateful for my family and some special friends who have taken an interest in me and my work and have faithfully encouraged me wherever I’ve moved.
• I’m grateful for having good health, despite the relentless encroachment of the aging process, enabling me to arise each morning, enjoy life and do the work of the Lord.
• I’m grateful for the generosity of the People of God who support me and allow me to go about my daily routine without spending one single moment worrying about food, clothing, shelter, transportation, health care and retirement.
• I’m grateful that the recent elections are over and that the tidal wave of political advertisements and partisan debates has subsided, at least for the moment.
• I’m grateful that the highway construction connecting 95N and 195E is showing signs of progress and that those of us who live on the East Bay will soon be released from our exile.
• I’m grateful that I received such a good education in Catholic Schools like at St. Teresa Elementary School, St. Mark Seminary, Gannon University, St. Francis University and the North American College.
• I’m grateful for the dedicated religious women whose commitment made a positive difference in my life, especially the Benedictine Nuns at St. Teresa School in Pittsburgh, who taught me reading, writing and arithmetic but even more importantly the Baltimore Catechism.
• I’m grateful as well for the outstanding priests I’ve known throughout my life in many different settings, priests who offered a positive example of personal commitment and ministry and in so doing planted in me the possibility of serving the Lord in the same way.
• I’m grateful that I’ve witnessed and have benefited from the leadership of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI who have directed the Church and served the world with a marvelous combination of wisdom, courage and love.
• I’m grateful that we have so many fine young men studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Providence, allowing for at least the possibility that one day I’ll be able to retire and pass the torch of ministry to a new generation.
• I’m grateful for the Pittsburgh Steelers who, win or lose, are a classy franchise and always add a touch of excitement and fun to my life.
• I’m grateful for the Cleveland Browns who make it so easy to be a Steelers fan.
• I’m grateful for Molly, the best dog in the world, or at least this man’s best friend.
• I’m grateful for the changes in season and the wide variety of weather we experience, but most of all for the warmth and light of summer.
• I’m grateful for Sanibel Island in Florida, a wonderful vacation spot year round but especially in January and February when the reality of summer in New England is a long way off.
• I’m grateful for having had the opportunity of traveling to Egypt this year, an experience that challenged me, broadened my vision and reminded me of the blessings of home.
• I’m grateful for my Mom and Dad who loved me, were proud of me, and provided a warm, safe and stable home and also a good example of married life and practical Catholic Faith.
• I’m grateful for that Catholic Faith that has blessed my life from the time of baptism until this very moment, giving me meaning and direction, along with all the spiritual gifts I need to stay in touch with the Living God.
• I’m grateful that despite my own limitations and liabilities I was chosen to be the Bishop of Providence, with the privilege of leading a large and beautiful Diocesan Church.
• I’m grateful for the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and faithful of the Providence Diocese who have welcomed me so warmly, provided a great home for me, and have assisted me with their cooperation and prayers.
Well, that’s the list of some of the things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving. I wonder what your list might look like.
In any event, a happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.
(This column originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)