Today on the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving. I was never familiar with this celebration until I became a member of the US Province of the Missionary Oblates eight years ago. I have learnt that it is a beautiful moment to stop, take stock and give thanks to God for the blessings of the previous year. Its historical origin was the end of the harvest and giving thanks to God for the fruits of the earth. I invite you, who are outside of the US, to join in the spirit of this Thanksgiving today.

2020 – what is there to be thankful for? A pandemic, illness, death, fear, confusion caused by political situations, economic uncertainty, hunger… Thanksgiving???

Yes, gratitude! In the midst of so much darkness I invite you to be grateful for St Eugene and his charism that has given birth to the Mazenodian Family. Let’s join him in the gratitude that he expressed at the end of his long and fruitful life. The Oblates were the first fruits of what was to become his universal charismatic family: 

Be sure to tell them that I die happy… that I die happy that God was so good as to choose me to found the Congregation of the Oblates in the Church.

(Quoted by J. Fabre, Circular letter 1861)

Through the example of his life and of his teaching, St Eugene shows us how to keep focused on God as the only unshakable foundation that will never disappear.

To keep focused on Jesus our Savior as our light, our pilot, our shepherd who never abandons us.

I am grateful that the spirit of Eugene continues to accompany us so that in the darkness of the pandemic we can focus on the power of the resurrection that no pandemic can eliminate:

If we bear in our body the death of Jesus, it is with the hope that the life of Jesus, too, may be seen in our body (cf. 2 Cor 4:10). Through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we see the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection (cf. Phil 3: 10).       

OMI Constitutions and Rules, Constitution 4

Today I am grateful for the Mazenodian Family and for the opportunity I have each day to reflect on the words of Eugene and to share this with you in our “St Eugene de Mazenod Speaks.” I am grateful for the technology that makes it possible and that keeps us connected.

2020 – what is there to be thankful for? Plenty! Today I give thanks in a special way for the gift of each one of you and our connection in this daily St Eugene reflection. Thanks to God, thanks to Eugene and thanks to YOU!

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2 Responses to 2020 – WHAT IS THERE TO BE THANKFUL FOR?

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Frank and to all who come to this place each day to listen to Eugene and share ourselves in that. There is a certain amount of solace and comfort to be able to come here and to be with each other in spirit, as we reflect with each other. Just as Eugene reminded so many in his Lenten Homily in the Church of the Madeleine that they were not alone and forgotten, so he does that with all who would dare to enter this space, to listen and be.

    It is not just Eugene de Mazenod, or even the Oblates – I think of how especially with his canonization 25 years ago his gift, his spirit was then shared in a very real and universal way with all of us. Eugene shedding his light on each of us, so that we in turn might go out and shed our combined lights with each other and all those we meet.

    Indeed I dare to say that now more than ever we give thanks. So much is his spirit a part of us all that I dare to give thanks as I ‘tell all of you… that I will die happy that God is so good as to choose me to become a member of this Mazenodian Family, in the Church”.

    Yes Eugene’s spirit is more alive and active than ever, accompanying us in a way this is universal, drawing us all together. Yes the Oblates were and are the first fruits of what ‘has’ become known as the Mazenodian Family. I am again reminded of how in another week we will come together to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Canonization of Eugene de Mazenod. And I give thanks as I realise that this has given many of us the right, the authority within the Church to claim our ties and belonging to this “universal charismatic family”.

    My day has begun with all of you and will be lived out with the spirit of Thanksgiving being a part of every minute of the day. At noon Mass you will be with me in my heart. I give thanks for each and every one of you.

  2. Father John W. Hanley, OMI says:

    Frank, your blog today is very well put. We have to see light in darkness, victory in defeat, life in death, and the indomitable spirit of Saint Eugene can give us and the world an example. Happy Thanksgiving to all, even as we struggle in this pandemic.

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