The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
N SOME OCCASIONS, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is referred to as “The Eucharist.” If you have ever attended a retreat or conference, often the term “Celebration of the Eucharist” will be used to designate the time that Mass will be offered. This isn’t wrong; it’s just emphasizing one aspect of the Mass—namely the idea of “giving thanks”—and applying it to the entire ceremony.
Words of Consecration: If you pay close attention to what are known as the words of consecration, you may notice that mention is made of Jesus ‘giving thanks’ before He actually changed the bread and wine into His very Self at the last Supper. Remember this was the first occasion that what we know as the ‘Mass’ was actually said or offered. I remember that, as a child, I started to use a missal while attending Mass and was a bit puzzled by these words. Here Jesus is depicted as ‘giving thanks’ on the very night before he was to suffer and experience his sufferings and death. Why would Jesus do such a thing? In my childish way of thinking, I would have thought Jesus would have prayed to be spared having to suffer and die for us.
The Mass: Without going into a long explanation, I can briefly say that Jesus knew that by His sufferings and death, He would be offering the greatest act of “giving thanks.” (Incidentally that is the etymological meaning of the word ‘Eucharist.’)
Healing of those with leprosy: Perhaps the main lesson we can learn from today’s Gospel episode is the reminder that we too should give thanks to God for all He has given us. In the Mass—when Jesus’ actual sacrifice of Himself to atone for our sins is made re-present—we have the opportunity to thanks God for all He has given us. Incidentally, that can and should include things that may not at first appear pleasant to us.
Hidden Blessings: For reasons I don’t fully understand, some people—whenever they say the Lord’s Prayer—believe the words “Thy will be done” actually mean “My will be done…” At the time some misfortune may happen to us, it will not appear pleasant or even beneficial. But God is able to foresee the eternal reward we are going to receive for any hardship we undergo in our lives. And we, too, will be forever thanking God when we are in heaven, enjoying the reward for such hardships. That is what Jesus did the night before He suffered and died for us. He even thanked His heavenly Father for giving him the opportunity to suffer and die for our sins.
Thanksgiving: If you have the praiseworthy custom of going to Mass on Thanksgiving Day, you will probably think about thanking God. But really, this idea or thought should be there every time we go to Mass—not necessarily just on Thanksgiving Day.
Think positive: In giving thanks, I feel it is always important that we think positive; that we thank God for all He has given us. And how much is that? Really, it is everything we have. We would not even exist if it were not for God.
Mass: Fortunately for us, the Mass has many opportunities for saying or doing acts of thanksgiving. The Mass has many prayers and opportunities also for us to adore God, as well as to ask God for what we think we may need. It even has opportunities for us to express sorrow for any wrong we may have done. We may criticize those nine men cured of their illness who did not return to thank Jesus for curing them; but when we fail to thank God for all He has given us, we are being like them. So don’t let your failure to thank God for all you have received show your lack of gratitude. +
INTROIT for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost: “Remember, Lord, thy covenant…”