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Father Muench Says...

Celebrating gratitude in our families

November 25, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This morning as I walked over to church, I noticed several cars coming into the parking lot bringing children to school. These cars were driven by fathers – actually many fathers – who escorted their children to the front door of the school. One caught my attention. A little child got out of the family car and immediately began running at full steam, and a father rushed out of the same car chasing, catching up with that kid.

This became sort of an image for me. I saw a unique image of a father, of the importance of a father – catch and protect. In these days of pandemic, I truly think of this father each time I celebrate Mass, Mass that is live streamed to the homes in this parish. I like to think of the fathers that are watching. I like to think about the fathers sitting with their children and praying with them.

I believe that they are truly acting as fathers at that moment. They become the leader of prayer in their homes just as the priest praying at the altar at church. As the priests say the words of Jesus, the fathers at home pray with their children also saying the very same words of the Lord.

I further believe in this time of pandemic that the home, each home, becomes an important place, a sacred place. This is a place where a family joins together as family. And a father joins with his family in a real and true union at that moment – especially when praying at Mass, even that livestreamed Mass – becoming a leader of prayer.

I have been thinking of this today as our Church and our country prepares for another Thanksgiving. Like many others, I think, and I am certain many fathers also think, that this year’s Thanksgiving should be more meaningful. This year, I am going to put together a better, a more meaningful “grace before the meal.” This year the family should experience a Thanksgiving that is real. The family may have watched the Thanksgiving Day Mass livestreamed from the parish church. So many fathers should decide that they should make the whole day meaningful.

Thanksgiving Day is about gratitude, of course. For me that means I look back to Brother David Steinl-Rast. He gives me through his books and talks the real message of gratitude, a message that always makes true sense to me. I remember well and quote often his words about gratitude: “Want to be happy, be grateful.” “Live gratefully – every moment is a gift.” Each and every moment is an opportunity, a unique opportunity, and for this we should all be grateful.

I believe God brings to each of us unique opportunities every day. I have written this often, but I believe very firmly in this message of the Lord. I am constantly grateful to my God for the gift of these opportunities. My prayer each morning is that I will recognize these opportunities that I am certain come from the Lord each day. Not only do I pray I recognize these opportunities, I pray that I will live these opportunities. I believe that these opportunities will be my road to sainthood. I pray that each of you will find the opportunities that the Lord offers to you.

Today, my Thanksgiving Prayer is for each family, and in a special way for each father, as they all join in gratitude for the blessings of being joined together. As I pray for each family, I also pray that soon the families of each parish – the families of our Catholic Church – will be united as Church so that our Church can work together as a strong and powerful force to make our world a better place.

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