Eucharist is giving thanks…
The celebration of Thanksgiving Day, a holiday in our country, is a testament of a people that is thankful for the bountiful blessings we now enjoy. We can ask ourselves how we spend Thanksgiving Day or weekend.
We imagine that everybody is naturally thankful, at least for the good things of life. But this may not be true. Many people go through life complaining and grumbling. They never say “thank you” to God or to anybody else. Perhaps, because they have never been taught to be grateful. As children, we are told to say “thank you” when somebody gives us something. Otherwise we would as children take the good deed for granted and say nothing. We are taught to express gratitude, to say “thank you” when somebody gives us something. Gratitude is a learned habit. It is incumbent on us to teach this virtue of gratitude to our children and our children’s children. We have to become a grateful people… Gratitude is a memory of the heart. Our children will learn and remember the various words and acts of gratitude we extend to others.
For thinking creatures, gratitude is supposed to be a natural reaction. The British philanthropist Moses Montefiore has this motto in his home: “Think and thank.” It reflects the linguistic fact that the work “thankfulness” comes from the old Anglo-Saxon term which means “thinkfulness”. “Think” and “thank” come from the same root. To “think” of God’s blessings is to “thank” Him for them. We “think”, therefore, we “thank”. A thinking creature should be naturally and spontaneously “thankful”.
The Mass we celebrate is a Eucharist. And Eucharist comes from the Greek verb “eucharisto” which means “I thank”. Each Mass in an act of thanksgiving to God. The Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer begins with these words: “Father, it is our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give you thanks.” Our duty and our salvation… Why salvation? Because, in a way, we cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Thanking God saves us from unhappiness. When we are grateful, we create a space in ourselves for God and others. When we are thankful, we become loving and generous of the gifts that God has given us. When we are grateful, we are more forgiving of the weakness and failures of others. We share more of ourselves when we realize that our life is a gift.