Nov. 23, 2016
By Father William Muench
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! What a gift – a day dedicated to gratitude is truly a gift. Dominican Brother David Stiendl Rast, a theologian and spiritual writer says this: “Do you want to find happiness, live gratefully.”
Today, I offer a prayer to God for making me a priest here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. As a priest of this diocese I add my gratitude today to Bishop LaValley for his dedicated guidance and leadership to our North Country. At the same time, I add my gratitude to all my brother priests of our diocese for their dedication in our efforts to bring God’s love and peace to the people of this North Country.
In this effort, I add sincere gratitude to our deacons, religious Sisters, and all the lay people who join together with me in evangelization.
Personally, I want to thank God for my own family and my friends. My Thanksgiving prayer is for all families – and for the very idea of family. I thank God for all the support I have received from my family and friends.
As you know I have been studying Pope Frances’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” Pope Francis writes a great deal about family in this document and I would like to mention a couple of his ideas.
Pope Francis sees something of God in each family – God touches each family. Pope Francis writes this: “To want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with him, to want to build with him, to join in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone.”
There is a certain holiness in all that it means to be family.
In the same place, Pope Francis writes this: “All family life is a shepherding in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others…This is itself a way to worship God, who has sown so much good in others is the hope that we will help make it grow.”
Mercy – Pope Francis declared this past year as Year of Mercy. “All family life is a shepherding in mercy.” A family is about love and respect but also about mercy. Family is about love even in the face of failings and disruption and also forgiveness.
On the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis closed this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This was a year of celebration and a time to emphasize the importance of mercy for us all for all tim, in the life of our Catholic Church. Jesus came to this world to win our salvation through his life, death and resurrection even in our sinfulness. God continues to reach out to us in love even in our failings and sinfulness.
The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes. The love of a family means that the Lord’s presence is a part of all that happens – and this brings joy and peace.
Family love is made up of many, many small but real things, small events. In a variety of gifts and encounters, there is a deep union - God has his dwelling place. May your family be filled with the love of God.