As I have mentioned before, I teach 7th grade religion once a week in school, and I give time each class for the students to ask me questions. The questions are always fascinating and entertaining. In fact, I usually will mention their questions in some of my daily Mass homilies, so perceptive and thought-provoking are they. One student asked me this on her quiz the other week: "What do you do when God answers your prayers?"
I highlighted her question (I do that when the question is very good). I had never been asked that before. The answer I wrote on her quiz: "Thank him!"
It's a profound question. That's because we don't think too much about our prayers being answered. I usually hear more from people angry that God didn't answer their prayers. I usually don't hear the "success stories", though I know they are out there.
We don't hesitate to be religious beforehand. That is, we quickly pray and ask God for help. Afterwards, we become secular. That is, when something goes our way, we just move on to the next thing, or we chalk up the good outcome to our effort, the normal occurrence of events, or even luck. God doesn't enter our radar.
The 7th grade student's question was so striking because she demonstrated consistency and deep faith. She went to God beforehand and wants to go to God afterwards. She has faith. She believes 'things went her way' because of God. He prayers were answered. So, what should she do? My response: thank him!
Jesus teaches a lesson in the Gospel. He says to learn from the fig tree. We can tell when the Kingdom of God is near by signs in people, just like we can tell summer is near by the leaves on a tree. May more of us ask questions like our 7th grade students. Then we'll be wise and just. And Daniel prophesies this: "The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever" (Dan 1:3).
This Sunday is the Confirmation Acceptance Mass at 9:30am for our 7th grade students in both our school and CCD programs. Please keep them and their sponsors, and teachers, in your prayers as they prepare for this important sacrament.
The Pastoral Council will meet this Monday night at 7 pm. My Tuesday Theology Talk this upcoming Tuesday, November 20th at 7 pm in the chapel will be on angels and demons. All are welcome to attend. There is no CCD this Wednesday and, of course, no school Thursday and Friday for the holiday.
Thank you for your contribution to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a collection the Archdiocese is taking up this weekend that goes to support low-income communities as they address root causes of poverty through community organizing and economic development.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you are traveling to be with family or friends, please be safe and enjoy your time with loved ones. Welcome back to all of our college students who are home for the holiday.
I've always said Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, and a great one at that. Most countries have Labor Days, Memorial Days, and Independence Days, but not every country has a Thanksgiving. When we are thankful we recognize that a gift has been bestowed upon us. We are thankful for for what God has given us: our health, our family, our talents. We are thankful to our nation for providing a place where we can be safe, prosper, and live freely. We are thankful to those around us for loving us and filling our lives with meaning. This holiday isn't about football or turkey. It's about the underrated virtue of thankfulness. I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving is my favorite non-religious holiday, and the essence of it is why. I am thankful for God, for the United States, and for each of you.
Yours in Christ,