Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thanksgiving is a great national holiday! Something would be missing in the rhythm of our national life — and we would soon sense it — if we didn’t pause for this time of refreshment, gratitude and being together. The holiday helps us savor the deeper meaning of life.
Honestly, telling the world the good news about the Eucharist isn’t much harder than the opening statement I just made! In fact, the parallel is just about as perfect as it gets.
Eucharist, after all, means “thanksgiving.” Something is missing in the rhythm of our personal life if we go without it, and we soon sense that something is missing. When people don’t find meaning in their relationship with God, they go searching for it elsewhere. The Eucharist plugs us into the deeper meaning of our lives.
Let’s pause on this point for a moment:
People’s search for meaning comes out sideways if it’s not met head-on — that is, if it doesn’t find its way to God as the true source of meaning. We’ll be seeing a lot of that “coming out sideways” in the coming days — like elaborate Christmas displays and frenzied shopping that actually have nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas. (Have you seen the inflatable Christmas T-Rex?)
How do we respond to that search for meaning? Making fun of it is tempting. But it isn’t a very effective strategy for evangelization. People are really looking for something.
Living at a deeper level is certainly essential. But our example alone is not enough. We also have to proclaim something deeper: we have to give an invitation, in words, just as we do with every other invitation. And it’s not complex: “Hey, I’ve found that ‘spiritual thanksgiving’ is a really important part of my life. Maybe you could give it a try.”
Speaking of which, here are two things I’m tremendously grateful for this year.
First, I’m grateful for all that’s been built here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis over the last 200 years. Perhaps those who grow up here can take it for granted. But for anyone, like me, who comes from the outside, the history and the depth of what the Church has built here is amazing. Yes, we’re in the midst of making some changes. But even as we make those changes, I’m aware of the riches we’ve inherited, and I’m grateful for it.
Second, I’m grateful to be with you, here, now, as we carry out the All Things New task together. It’s not by accident, but in God’s providence, that we find ourselves together at this time in history. Each of you, and all of this Church together, is God’s gift to me at this time in my life and ministry. I feel deeply blessed, and I’m deeply grateful.