We are in the final days of the Church’s liturgical year. This Sunday we mark the year’s end with the Feast of Christ the King and the following week the new year begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
This coming year will be special. Pope Francis has declared this to be the Year of Consecrated Life. The year will run from Nov. 30, the First Sunday of Advent, to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Feb. 2, 2016.
During this coming year, the pope is asking us to pray and reflect on the gift of consecrated life in the Church — and to encourage more men and women to follow this path of discipleship that he calls “a special way… a prophetic way.”
Our Archdiocesan Office of the Vicar of Women Religious is coordinating our efforts and has distributed a special prayer and ideas for how our parishes can participate in this celebration.
I hope you will join me in praying for this important initiative of our Holy Father.
This week, we also learned that Pope Francis will be coming to the United States in 2015. He will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September and there is talk that he will also address the United Nations and perhaps the U.S. Congress.
That’s great news. So let’s give thanks to God and let’s pray that Pope Francis’ pilgrimage will be a time of special grace for our country.
Also this week, we celebrated the launch of a new Catholic radio station here in Los Angeles — KHJ 930 AM.
We have long been blessed to have two excellent stations serving our Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles— ESNE Radio Católica (AM 1670) and Guadalupe Radio (FM 87.7).
I am grateful that we will now have a station that serves our English-speaking Catholics.
KHJ’s coverage “footprint” extends throughout the 9,000 square-mile territory of the archdiocese, so this station will be a beautiful blessing for our mission of the new evangelization.
We have so much to be thankful for as we look ahead to next week and our national celebration of Thanksgiving Day.
This beautiful tradition in our country reminds us that we are a people under God — born from his loving hand, created in his image and for his purposes.
In this season, we need to renew our gratitude to God for all of his gifts. But we also need to learn to say “thank you” with love to the people in our lives.
The Eucharist is the privileged place for us to give thanks for God’s blessings and for our family and other special people in our lives.
We know the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word eucharistia, which means “thanksgiving.” And as Catholics, we are called to be a “eucharistic people,” a people of thanksgiving!
The Eucharist roots our worship in gratitude to God. So in that spirit, we should make a new commitment to renew our spirit of thanksgiving and to pray for those who bring us good gifts and blessings from God.
We need to live with joyful awareness that everything we have is a gift of grace from our good God.
And we know that God’s gifts are not given to us to use selfishly. We should give thanks to God — but we also know we should “give back” to him. Our gratitude must be gracious. The gifts we’ve been given, we must share with others.
God expects us to use the gifts he has given us to collaborate with him in building the kingdom of love and truth in our world. He wants our lives to be filled with good deeds, acts of charity. He wants us to bear the good fruit of a strong and steady witness to our faith in our daily lives — in our homes, in our workplaces, in our communities.
We are called as Catholics to be Eucharistic people — men and women of thanksgiving who offer everything we do as an act of thanksgiving. Men and women who thank God and glorify him for all of his wonderful works in our lives.
So let’s give thanks to God this week and let’s commit ourselves to look for new ways to “give back” to God through our service to others. Please, let’s keep praying for one another! And I wish your families a most blessed Thanksgiving.
Let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to be people who count our blessings and feel grateful for all of God’s gifts.