This past Thursday, we celebrated one of the most beautiful holidays on the calendar. It is a day dedicated to giving thanks for the blessings and graces we have received in the preceding year. Gratitude is indeed the highest form of courtesy.
Cicero once said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all of the others.” Virtues — from honesty to punctuality — are based on our awareness of others.
Virtues are always expressed in our relationships with others. That is why Jesus says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
But what about God? How should we follow Jesus’ teaching in our relationship with God?
Saying “thank you” is the foundation of our relationship with Him. Thanksgiving is the most beautiful prayer. It is, in a sense, the only prayer we are “entitled” to say — thank you.
In a certain way, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season. The calendar this year is perfect in that regard: On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving, and this is the first Sunday of Advent. While the commercialization of Christmas can hide or distort the true meaning of the season, we can use even that commercialization to reflect on the spirit of Christmas.
I truly abhor Black Friday — it is the total opposite of the family feast that we celebrate on Thanksgiving. But even the gross commercialism of Black Friday can be used to express something positive.
On Thursday, you gave thanks for the blessings you and your family have received — and on Friday, you start to think about others, what you are going to give them as presents on Christmas.
This column is an invitation to think about others. As readers of this paper surely know, for 50 years, The Tablet has carried out the Bright Christmas Campaign. We ask readers for donations to ensure that no child in the Diocese of Brooklyn goes without a present on Christmas.
Last year, we received $100,000, which was distributed to worthy groups for Nativity pageants and parties, Yuletide meals, and presents for boys and girls.
Thank you again to every person who donated to the campaign last year. It was the first year that I was in charge of the campaign as the new editor of The Tablet, and I was moved by the generosity of our readers.
I ask you now to continue this beautiful tradition with the same generosity that you have shown for half a century.
Parish leaders and diocesan groups have already started to prepare for Christmas celebrations, and they are hoping for help from The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Fund. Your donations will be given to priests, sisters and church groups that work with those in need.
The Bright Christmas Campaign doesn’t accept requests from individuals. We make grants only to parish groups and others associated with the diocese in Brooklyn and Queens that ask us for help.
If you need assistance to help kids in your area, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t made your donation yet, send it today. Simply make out your check to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas and mail it to me at The Tablet, 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215.
When it comes to gratitude, I always remember Shakespeare’s prayer: “O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!”
We invite you to show your thankful heart by helping the children of Brooklyn and Queens celebrate Christmas this year.