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Seasonal Reflection

THANKSGIVING, A TIME OF GRATITUDE
by Fr. Mariano Rizzuto, SM (+December 18, 2014)

Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude by Father Mariano Rizzuto, Society of MaryOne of the early Greek philosophers said that all things are in flux.

When I look at the change of seasons, I can imagine what he meant — the trees are green one morning and then suddenly leaves that are green turn to gold.

Like the changing leaves, my understanding of gratitude changes from thanks for this or that gift, to a grateful heart for the gift of life and for my faith.

During the Cycle of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I reflect on the fact that Thanksgiving in our culture is a time for us to give thanks for the many freedoms we have in our country. It is a time when we wonder and give praise for the wedding of the human and the divine — we remember the time when God becomes one of us and is with us.

This particular time of year, the time of Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, call forth a profound sense of gratitude from within me. At my current age, I reflect on the many changes that have taken place in my life.

Advent Wreath One CandleWhen I was a teenager I didn’t realize much of this sense of profound gratitude that I have now. In my teens I was grateful to those who supported me in my calling to religious life in the Society of Mary. I was grateful to my parents. At that time, it was financially difficult for my family to send me off to the seminary. But with the financial help of others, I was allowed to continue my search for God. All my teachers and fellow students helped me and I give thanks for being able to make this living response to God's call and grace.

In my thirties and forties I was occupied with the teaching ministry and professional growth as a teacher. Later in my thirties and forties I became aware of the many "thank you's" from students and parents. I still give thanks for having some share in the growth of the students at St. Mary's Manor in Penndel, PA, St. Peter Chanel School in Bedford, OH and at Marist School in Atlanta, GA.

Advent Wreath Two CandlesIn my fifties I was assigned to the ministry of formation of the young men who came to the Society of Mary to become Marists. I found myself working with students preparing for religious life and with those who were preparing for the priesthood. During these years I appreciated having a share in the lives of all those who were responding to God's call. For that I give thanks and praise. It was a times for me to witness the unfolding love of God’s call in the lives of many young men.

In my sixties I was assigned to be a parish priest in Wheeling WV, then to Gramercy, LA and finally to Convent, LA, working and praying for the spiritual enrichment of the people who I served. I well recall the sacramental life and the parishioners who took part in helping me manifest the richness of God's love for these people. Again this was a times to give thanks and praise for being able to be sent to welcome the kingdom of God into the lives of people and give praise and glory to God who shares the divine life with all of us.

Advent Wreath Three CandlesNow, I find myself in retirement but I remain active. To this day I continue to celebrate Mass for other communities in different locations in New Orleans and occasionally in some parishes when I'm requested to help out.

After looking at my experiences over the years, I realize that my sense of gratitude has changed and grown deeper. During all these years my grateful heart was burdened with a lack of skills and my own diffidence. But despite all the difficulties, I experienced the struggle and continued to say "Thank You". This determination helped to shape my faith and hope.

I pray today during this Season of Thanksgiving and Christmas that you too will give thanks for all that God has blessed you with on the course of your life, for God is kind and merciful. Advent Wreath Four CandlesI hope you can take time during this blessed season to reflect on the experiences that have helped to shape your hope, faith and life.

I cannot measure my gratitude in terms of numbers or percentages. But as I look back over the years I am aware that my heart is beating with greater praise and thanks to God, for all the marvelous things that have taken place in my life.

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Cornicopia

I pray today
during this
Season of
Thanksgiving
and Christmas
that you too
will give thanks
for all that God
has blessed
you with
in the course
of your life,
for God is kind
and merciful.

I hope you can
take time
during this
blessed season
to reflect on the
experiences that
have helped to
shape your hope,
faith and life.

Advent Wreath Five Candles

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Link to beautiful music for Advent

Please take a moment to enjoy this beautiful music for the season.
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel
by Haley Westenra