Thanksgiving and Prayer

August 29, 1993
Brother John Raymond

	Prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving are very important. In the
 Liturgy of the Holy Mass when the priest says, "Let us give thanks
 to the Lord, our God" we are taught to respond with "It is right to
 give Him thanks and praise." The priest then continues with "truly
 it is right to give Him thanks and praise. . .." So the Church's
 liturgy teaches us that in justice we owe God prayers expressing
 thanksgiving. One could say that it is one of God's rights as a
	The story of the ten lepers as related in the Gospel is an
 example of Man's tendency toward ingratitude. Jesus met ten lepers
 on the road. He told them to go show themselves to the priests in
 Jerusalem. The ten of them were walking on their way there when
 instantly they all were cured. One of the ten lepers (a Samaritan -
 schismatic Jewish sect) ran back to Jesus and fell at His feet
 giving thanks. Jesus asked him, "Were not the ten made clean? Where
 are the other nine?" (Lk 17, 11-19) In asking these questions Jesus
 expresses His sadness over the ingratitude of the others (His own
 people). In the 1600s Jesus, in the revelations of His Sacred Heart,
 expressed this same sadness to St. Margaret Mary. He mentioned that
 He receives only ingratitude from the majority of Men.
	The following true story exemplifies the sensitivity of the Heart
 of Jesus to gratitude. A particular person I know was visiting a
 foreign country. A group of people were making the Way of the Cross
 outside. This person's friends who could speak the foreign language
 of the country made him join the prayer group. Reluctantly the
 person went from Station to Station feeling more and more frustrated
 by trying to pray in a foreign language. When the group arrived at
 the 12th Station, Jesus Dies on the Cross, this person for the first
 time payed attention to Station. He prayed interiorly the following,
 "Lord I cannot say right now that I love you (due to his feelings of
 frustration). All I can say is thank you for dying for me." Right
 after this person's sincere prayer a misty rain fell from the sky
 over the whole group. Everyone was astonished as the sky was
 absolutely clear. This person felt that this extraordinary event was
 a sign of Jesus' gratitude for his sincere thank you.
	Ungratefulness goes hand in hand with pride. A proud person
 thinks that he deserves everything by right. He cannot understand
 why he should be thankful. When one is talking about God one cannot
 say that one deserves anything from Him. All is a grace - a gift.
	One has many reasons to be thankful to God. The greatest being
 that He gave us His Only-Begotten Son. Jesus took on our sins with
 their associated punishment. Our redemption was totally a gift from
 God which we certainly did not deserve. But let us take this one
 step further. We are Catholics. We have the Truth and the fullness
 of grace. Many of us were born Catholics. What did we do to deserve
 being a Catholic? Many people are born non-Catholics. Many people
 spend their whole lives searching for what we already have - the
 truth. We have been handed the Faith on a silver platter. We are
 God's spoiled children. Sometimes spoiled children forget to be
	A poor man we met on the streets in Puerto Rico understood the
 meaning of thankfulness. We provided him with food and a place to
 sleep for a few days. We learned from him later that he was not so
 poor after all. Because of a drinking problem he had left his wife
 and children in their home in Pennslyvania. By God's grace he had
 recently been able to give up his drinking problem. He was going to
 go back to his wife and family. He was so thankful for the little
 act of kindness we had done for him that he said that if we were
 ever in Pennslyvania, "my house is your house."
	There are different ways of giving thanks to God. The first and
 simplest is to recognize and thank Him for the many gifts we have
 already received and continue to receive. Better than this is to
 develop a grateful attitude toward God - to form the habit of
 thankfulness. The best way of giving thanks to God is to give Him
 back something which we all treasure so highly - our own will. Some
 of the people Jesus cured as related in the Gospels were so thankful
 that they earnestly wanted to follow Him. This does not mean that
 one necessarily has to become a priest or a religious. I am talking
 again about an attitude - a willingness to live for God and to be
 always intent on or open to doing what pleases Him in a spirit of
	So let us count our blessings and give thanks to God for them.
 Let us follow St. Paul's advice to dedicate ourselves to