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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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"Upon the road, René was always occupied with God. His words and the discourses he held were all expressive of submission to the commands of Divine Providence, and showed a willing acceptance of the death which God was sending him. He gave himself to God as a sacrifice, to be reduced to ashes by the fires of the Iroquois, which that good Father's hand would kindle. He sought the means to bless Him in all things and everywhere. Covered with wounds as he himself was, Goupil dressed the wounds of other persons, of the enemies who had received some blows in the fight as well as those of the prisoners. He opened the vein for a sick Iroquois. And he did it all with as much charity as if he had done it to persons who were his best friends."
— St. Isaac Jogues (writing in 1643)

Follow the Leper
published 24 November 2011 by Fr. David Friel

Six months and three days ago, I received the greatest gift I’ve ever received when I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. What an extraordinary experience it has been! I wanted to be a priest for a long time, but I never could have imagined what a blessing it would be. I have never had more to be thankful for in my entire life than I do this Thanksgiving.

We can never be too grateful. St. Paul says that he gave thanks to God “always” (1 Corinthians 1:4). Always is a lot.

Are there things in life for which we’re not grateful? Sure. Why do we have to sit in traffic? Why do we have to put up with telemarketers & junk mail? Maybe someone very close to us died this past year. Perhaps someone’s addiction or anger or immaturity has complete rule over your life. There are things in everybody’s life for which we’re not real thankful. But—just as surely—there are things in everybody’s life that are worth our thanks.

The story of the ten lepers who are healed in Luke 17 proposes two ways in which we can respond. In this Gospel story, although Jesus heals ten lepers, only one leper comes back to the Lord to express thanks. What happens with the other nine? I imagine that each one of them used an excuse. They probably thought of something they had to be ungrateful for, instead of thinking of the awesome gift of the Lord.

The one thankful leper likely had plenty of things that he, too, could have groused about. After years as an ostracized leper, he probably had no money, nowhere to live, no food. He surely would have had no friends or family to rely on. But he’s not blinded by what he doesn’t have or by the problems of his situation. He takes a moment to go back to Jesus, to thank Him, to just be grateful.

Every year, as Americans, we follow the example of that one leper. Even though things might not be perfect in our lives, we take a moment to go back to the Lord, to thank Him, to just be grateful. We give Him thanks and praise.

The last six months and three days have been the most extraordinary time of my life. How has this last year been for you? What are the gifts you’ve received? What are the things in which you’ve succeeded? What are the good things God has done in your life?

For all of those things: Deo Gratias!