11/18/2011 A time to give thanks for a loving, generous God A message from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, one of my favorite days, really. It is a “family day” for sure and an opportunity for folks to be together. I have such great memories of Thanksgivings past when so many family members gathered around the Thanksgiving table. In my home, although those numbers have diminished now to three --- my Mom, my youngest brother Dan and me, I still love the day and look forward to it very much.
My Mom does not have too much to say anymore, with age and declining health taking its toll. I look into her eyes sometimes and see such a far away gaze. Her conversation is largely repetitive, with the same questions asked and answered many times. But then she smiles or laughs out loud or reaches out her hand to touch ours, and it seems that the weight of years is lifted, if only for a moment. “Don’t forget the turnips,” she has reminded me in recent days, “and the cranberries.” It’s Thanksgiving and nothing could make me more grateful than having her close by for however long God gives me.
And my brother Dan lives with and takes good care of her in these latter years. He is one of my heroes, never complaining and always there when his other brothers cannot be. He’s the bread stuffing and mashed potatoes guy at the table. It’s Thanksgiving and nothing could make me more grateful than knowing he is there.
The memories rush in these days. Dad has gone home to God but he is still present. My oldest brother has his children and grandchildren at another table in his own home but we talk on the phone as our respective turkeys are cooking. It’s Thanksgiving and nothing could make me more grateful than being able to look back on a wonderful life with a loving family.
The multi-colored leaves need to be raked --- I keep putting that task off till “tomorrow.” The air is crisp and clear. So many things remind us that Thanksgiving is here.
When we sit down at the table, whether we are surrounded by many or a few or no one else; whether there is loud laughter and conversation or none at all; whether there is a grand turkey before us or something more modest, everyone of us can find something in our hearts to be grateful for, something to move us to bow our heads in thankful prayer to God, our creator.
This Thanksgiving, as I approach the first anniversary of my becoming your Bishop, I give thanks to our loving God for all of you: priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, lay women and men ---all part of the extended family and community God has given me to shepherd and teach in the four counties of our Diocese. It is my prayer that you might find joy and peace in your homes, health and well-being in your lives and faith, hope and love to enable you in Jesus Christ to face whatever comes your way, “giving thanks to God our Father through him (Colossians 3:17).”
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Most Reverend David M. O’Connell, C.M. Bishop of Trenton