Which angel’s basket will you contribute to?

| November 18, 2010
Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

There is a legend that speaks about two angels who were sent down from heaven, each with a basket in hand. They went from place to place, to poor houses and rich houses, visiting the children saying their prayers and people worshipping in their churches. In short, they visited believers, young and old alike.

Then, at length, they came flying back to heaven with their collected loads. The basket borne by one an­gel was laden, but that of the other was very light — hardly worthwhile, one would have thought, to go so far and collect so little.

“What have you in your basket?” asked one angel of the other.

“I was sent to collect the prayers of all of the people who said, ‘I want’ and ‘Please give me,’” answered the angel who carried the heavy load.

“And what have you in yours?”

“Oh,” replied the other angel sadly, “I have been sent to collect the ‘thank-yous’ of all the people to whom our great God had sent a blessing; but see how few have remembered to give thanks!”

Appreciating God’s gifts

Our national holiday of Thanks­giving gives us an opportunity to contribute to the second angel’s basket.

Those of us who live in the United States of America, despite these difficult economic times, have been truly blessed. We have been blessed with life and family and friends.  We have been blessed with this great country, with our freedom and our collective prosperity. As Catholics, we have been blessed with our faith, our parishes, and our connection to the Universal Church.

We know that every good gift comes from God and that God calls us to be good stewards of the gifts he has given. This means we must seek opportunities to share what we have with others, not only at Thanks­giving, but every other day of the year as well. After all, love isn’t love until it is given away.

One of my favorite quotes on offering thanksgiving comes from St. Augustine, who said:

“Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself.  Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us?  Marvel and rejoice: We have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.  . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does ‘head and members’ mean? Christ and the Church.”

And it follows, of course, that the most perfect prayer of thanks is that of the Holy Eucharist. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving’” (paragraph 1360).

My most fervent wish at Thanks­giving is that our Catholic people will take every opportunity to participate in the Holy Eucharist at the Sunday liturgy, to be sure, but also more often during the week.

And, motivated by the love experienced at Mass, they will be ambassadors of Christ’s love in charitable works on behalf of the poor, the sick, the stranger and the marginalized.

Advent nears

This also prompts me to point out that the holy season of Advent is right around the corner.

While Advent has a different focus than Lent, it is nevertheless a penitential season, providing us with opportunities to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in time through the sacraments, and to prepare for his coming at the end of time.

The Scriptures of this season call us to be a waiting and watchful people; both these attributes are anything but passive. Rather, we are called to be proactive in seeking the presence of Jesus.

Again, frequent participation in the Mass and in the doing of charitable works are two tried-and-true ways of giving meaning to our Advent journey.

The four weeks of Advent will pass quickly, so I recommend planning ahead. Christmas will be here before you know it. Let us hope that the second angel has more in her basket by the time we get there.

God bless you!


Category: Only Jesus

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