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Christianity
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Giving Thanks

by Ricardo Liong

During every mass, the priest asks us to “give thanks to the Lord” and we reply, “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” The celebrant then begins the Eucharistic Prayer’s Preface with: "We do well always and everywhere to give you thanks." Offering thanksgiving is a part of our Eucharistic celebration. In fact the word “eucharist” came from the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.” Moreover we should give thanks to God not only during mass but also in every moment of our life.

Why do we have to thank God and what do we have to be thankful for?

First is the gift of life from God. We owe our existence to God who created us and everything else. Every new day represents a gift from God for: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalms 118:24).” Yet many, like those who had committed suicide, did not realize and treasure this gift. Despite the influence of the Western culture of discrimination against old age, the elders should have more reasons to be grateful as not everyone is given a long life.

Next, we express our gratitude to God for giving us our family and friends. A prayer posted in the Catholic Doors Ministry’s website reads: “Blessed are You, loving Father, for all your gifts to us. Blessed are You for giving us family and friends to be with us in times of joy and sorrow, to help us in days of need, and to rejoice with us in moments of celebration…” As they are usually with us, we sometimes fail to cherish their presence and support.

Then follow the gifts of His creations. These cover everything that surrounds us and sustains our lives. In his “The Canticle of the Creatures” St. Francis of Assisi gave thanks and praise the Lord for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, the stars and even for Sister Death. But why include Sister Death? Because in death, we receive God’s final gift – the gift of eternal life.

But the greatest gift is for God to give us His only son – Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Nearly ten years after listening to a post-communion hymn in Manila, these lines remain fresh in my heart:

“Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ His Son”

Those who know gratitude are full of joy and happiness for they appreciate and value whatever blessings received: whether big or small. These persons know how to count their blessings especially the little ones received daily. Among others are the things we took for granted like: our daily bowl of rice, cup of tea, laughter of our children or grandchildren, joy of our family and friends, birds in the sky, flowers along our paths, sunshine, and many other gifts of nature. The grateful ones remember and focus on every blessing given by God instead of worrying and feeling sorry for themselves particularly when encountering life’s difficulties.

Counting their blessings instead of misfortunes, they acknowledge God’s gifts, recognize His power and accept His will. During crisis period, they increase their faith and will not allow the situation to bring anxiety and discouragement.

Ungrateful persons are often dissatisfied and have the feeling of emptiness in their hearts. Even winning the third prize in the lottery is not enough for them. These persons invariably expect more and feel that they deserve the best of everything. They do not know the word “thanks” because they thought the world owes them everything. Being selfish and self-centred, they do not realize that the world was not created to serve them.

St. Paul reminded us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18) - even when things go wrong. Gratitude is an attitude and a way of looking at things. It is a Christian attitude to be thankful every day and to give thanks in bad times as well as in good times. A way of expressing our thanks to God is to give generously to the needy as St. Paul said “great generosity…will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:11).

St. Luke told us that out of the ten lepers that Jesus cured only one returned and thanked Him. When we heard this story we rebuked the nine and praised the grateful leper. But in our daily lives, are we following the nine or the lonely one?

See Also:

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving:
A meditation on Psalm 50

Serving God Always
It is so important to realize that we need Christ in our everyday life just as much as we do for eternity. Much teaching says that salvation is something that happens after we die. That is not right. We need salvation every day. We need that perfect peace of Christ in our hearts under all circumstances.

God's Love
The greatest power in the world is not the Hydrogen bomb, but it is the redeeming love of God. The Hydrogen bomb may destroy the whole world but only the redeeming love of God can make it anew.

Peace in Christ
What is a more blessed subject than to read of the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ remaining in you that your joy might be full?

About The Author

Ricardo Liong is a freelance writer formerly based in Hong Kong. He contributes regularly to St. Anthony's Church newsletter, Tsinoy.com, and other publications.

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