Personal Reflection: Thanksgiving all year long
By Deacon Guadalupe Rodriguez
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest national holidays that our country celebrates. Everything comes to a standstill while families gather together around a meal to thank God for all the many blessings we have received throughout the year. This is also a good time to remember that Thanksgiving is not a one-time, once a year event, but it is a weekly or even daily event when we attend the banquet of all banquets –– the celebration of the Eucharist.
As we give thanks at each Mass, we receive special graces that fill the empty spots in our soul that need Christ most. When we give thanks to God at Mass, we get a deeper foretaste of Heaven.
St. Joseph Cottolengo longed for this foretaste of heaven so much that he would tell the sisters making the hosts to make them thicker so Jesus would remain longer in him and he could give thanks longer. This goes along with what the Compendium of the Catechism says in question 285. “How long does the presence of Christ last in the Eucharist? The presence of Christ continues in the Eucharist as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” For this reason, St. Jose Maria Escriva, St. Thomas Aquinas, and even the present day Cardinal Francis Arinze mention that we should practice thanksgiving for at least 10 minutes while the “Real Presence” is still within us.
When we partake in the Eucharist, Jesus also wants to fill us with graces. As he told St. Faustina, “I desire to unite Myself with human souls; My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat Me as a dead object.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori, doctor of the Church said, “There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul, than that which is made during thanksgiving after Communion.” St. Teresa of Avila, St. Juliana Falconieri, St. Catherine, St. Paschal, St. Veronica, St. Joseph Cupertino, and St. Gemma Galgani would go into ecstasy even to the point of levitation immediately after receiving holy Communion. These saints understood becoming one with Christ in the deepest sense of allowing their hearts to be melted into his heart. As St. Mary Magdaline di Pazzi said, “The minutes that follow Communion are the most precious we have in our lives.”
St. John Vianney actually gave a three-part program for thanksgiving. First, remaining silent as one who listens silently and curious behind a door listening to the master’s orders. Second, after a period of silent love, ask God for the graces you desire for yourself and others, and thirdly, ask the angels and saints but especially the Blessed Virgin Mary to thank God with you.
Finally, we must remember that during the celebration of the Eucharist –– the great Banquet of Thanksgiving –– we have eaten the very best food that Our King has to offer and we must savor his presence.
“When a person has eaten some delicious food at the banquet, he is careful not to take anything bitter in his mouth immediately after, lest he should lose the sweet flavour of those delicate viands. In like manner, when we have received the precious Body of Jesus Christ, we should take care not to lose its heavenly flavour by turning too soon to the cares and business of the world,” St. John Chrysostom wrote.
Happy Thanksgiving, may we continue to give thanks all year round!