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Give Thanks For Goodness Sake

November 30, 2015

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, is certainly a most American of holidays.  It is a day to commemorate a day that new comers – immigrants, if you will – came to a New World, and were taught how to survive by their local residents – indigenous Americans – and gave thanks for the bounty that has come to be known as America.  That bounty, that American Dream, is certainly worthy of continuous thanks.  We Catholics recognize thanks as well.  εὐχαριστία. Eucharistia.  That’s the Greek.  Thanksgiving.

As Paul later teaches the Liturgy to the Corinthians, For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night he was handed over, took bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body that is for you. DO this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).  And then the early Church used that term, ‘Eucharist’ as explained by the Didache (late 1st or early 2nd century), Ignatius of Antioch (who died between 98 and 117) and Justin Martyr.

But, our liturgical year is ending, and the dire readings call us to prepare for that end… that is the beginning.  The End of Days… that is the beginning of eternity.  Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”  Christ the King has come, the Day of Reckoning is upon us.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

Perhaps, no more fitting celebrating what we are thankful for on the heels of a tragedy just the week before it; a fitting reminder that here at the end of our liturgical year, the world was left to deal with the horrors of senseless death and hate at the hands of madmen in Paris.  To what end it accomplished, I do not know.  I am blessed to have enjoyed the company of many Frenchmen in my life.  Fine submariners; hard living, hard loving, faithful and patriotic.  Wonderful people who taught me the value of joie de vivre.  Listening to the tributes and anthems on the news, I am reminded of the Scriptures for this week, the coming of the Lord, and the promises of life everlasting.  Heroically, everyone sang:

Allons enfants de la Patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Contre nous de la tyrannie,

L’étendard sanglant est levé; L’étendard sanglant est levé,

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

Mugir ces féroces soldats ?

Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras

Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes !

 

Arise, children of our Nation,

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us tyranny’s

Bloody banner is raised; the bloody banner is raised,

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They’re coming right into your arms

To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

This is dire stuff, to say the least!  The heroic rising of the people, and the secular government of the Republic that followed it.  But for us Christians, it is faith in Christ’s eschatological victory that offers solace and strength to suffering, persecuted people of every age and creed.  That solace and strength comes in the form of Jesus’ own dire warnings of the coming of the Son of Man.  Only after these terrifying cosmic upheavals will Christ’s mission of world redemption be near.  It is in that time, as the Lord explains to us, that we are to “stand erect, and raise our heads” and receive our redemption that is life eternal.  Give thanks, be faithful, love our neighbors, and help them draw closer to Christ the King.

At Advent’s start, we celebrate the coming of the Lord.  Most people recognize this as the coming of the Baby Jesus.  We also meditate on the Lord Jesus, present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  But we are also preparing for the coming of the Lord of End Times.  Past, present, and future.  In one season.

His will be done.

 

Love and thanks,

Papa

 

November 27, 2015, Friday, Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Daniel 7:2-14. Saw one like the son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven.

Responsorial: Daniel 3:59 – Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Luke 21:29-33. When you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

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