Gratitude, the Core of Our Journey – Father Dennis’ Homily for November 13, 2016

Portrait of Father Dennis DirkxThis week we celebrate Thanksgiving and it is good to pause and give thanks for all that has been given to us. The greatest gift is the gift of life. Living with a sense of gratitude for this gift is to respect life not only in ourselves, but in all people including the unborn. I was shocked to read in last Saturday’s Journal Sentinel that school leaders had to quell inflammatory post-election comments between students at our two best known Catholic High Schools. Knowing both of these high schools and the high moral standard that they teach, one cannot place any blame on the schools. Children reflect the attitudes of their parents. What shocks me the most is that “good Catholic” parents would teach their children a lack of respect for human beings created in the image and likeness of God.

Protecting the life of the unborn was a criterion in one’s voting and indeed the Catholic Church teaches us the sanctity of human life from the unborn to life’s natural end.   What happened in our two outstanding Catholic high schools last week is a disregard for human life. The late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago often spoke and taught us about the “seamless garment of life,” that is to respect life is to respect all of life.

As Catholics and as disciples of Jesus Christ we always have to keep our hearts focused upon him whom we follow.   In the fourth Eucharistic Prayer: “Jesus, Who Went about Doing Good,” we proclaim in the preface, “He, (Jesus), always showed compassion for children and for the poor, for the sick and for sinners, and he became a neighbor to the oppressed and the afflicted. By word and deed he announced to the world that you are our Father and that you care for all your sons and daughters.” This is the standard by which we are called to live in our daily lives. This is the attitude that Catholic parents ought to be imparting to their children.

In the same Eucharistic Prayer we pray, “Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters; inspire in us words and actions to comfort those who labor and are burdened. Make us serve them truly, after the example of Christ and at his command.” In this post-election time we Catholic disciples of Jesus Christ ought to make the front page of the newspaper because we have defended the life-given rights of all of our brothers and sisters and not because we have made inflammatory comments that are both inappropriate and hurtful.

The article in last Saturday’s Journal Sentinel is a call for all of us to examine our attitudes about justice and respect for all our brothers and sisters. Grateful for the gift of life is a seamless garment for all of life.

Yours In Christ,
Fr. Dennis

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