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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 a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“Since the English is not meant to be sung, but only to tell people who do not understand Latin what the text means, a simple paraphrase in prose is sufficient. The versions are not always very literal. Literal translations from Latin hymns would often look odd in English. I have tried to give in a readable, generally rhythmic form the real meaning of the text.”
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1913)

Deo Gratias
published 28 November 2013 by Fr. David Friel

HANKS BE TO GOD. Deo Gratias. You can always tell how many Catholics are in the congregation by the strength of the response the lector gets after saying, “The Word of the Lord.” “Thanks be to God” is a liturgical formula with which all churchgoers are very familiar, because we repeat the phrase two or three times in every Mass.

The first time we say it is after the first reading (and after the second reading, too, if one is appointed for the liturgy being celebrated). The other time the phrase is used is at the end of Mass, in response to the dismissal, “Go in peace.” At both moments, something similar is happening. At both times, we have just received something.

In the first case, we have just received the Lord in His holy Word in the Sacred Scriptures. The second time we have just received our Lord in His holy Eucharist. That is an interesting rhythm: as soon as we receive something, we say “Thanks be to God.”

That’s not such a bad rhythm to adopt and apply to all the facets of our life. When we receive anything at all, is it our natural inclination to say, “Thanks be to God”? It should be, but often it’s not. Too often, our natural inclination is to think that we worked hard for what we got, so there’s no one to thank but ourselves. Other times, our reaction to receiving something might be to complain that it’s not exactly what we wanted or to philosophize about how the thing we received could be improved.

The liturgy gives us a better model. As soon as we receive anything, we should simply respond, “Thanks be to God.” After all, as St. Paul wisely asks: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7).

No matter what we receive, let’s be grateful.

•  Food
•  Shelter
•  Family
•  Friends
•  Education
•  Good reputation
•  A second chance
•  Intelligence
•  Artistic ability
•  Employment
•  Good health

For all these things—to whatever degree and in whatever timeframe we receive them—we ought to be grateful. For all the many gifts we have received, we say with heartfelt conviction: “Thanks be to God.”