My Thanksgiving Prayer

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin - Without a Doubt

Dear God and Father,

As Thanksgiving draws near, help me to realize all that it means to be a truly thankful person.

Lead me to understand the depth of your love and the power of your providence as it touches every corner of my life. Lord, help me to count all the gifts and blessings you’ve given me, gifts too often taken for granted.

Thank you, God, first of all, for the material blessings you’ve given me — the food, clothing and shelter. Thank you for the creature comforts I enjoy everyday: that I can flip a switch and have light; turn a handle and have water; adjust a thermostat and have heat; and push a button on a radio or television and be instantly surrounded by entertainment and news. I’m even grateful for computers, Lord, though I know not why!

Dear God, how comfortable I’ve become! Though I depend on these gifts, help me to be free of them. And make me ever more attentive to my brothers and sisters in the world, even in my own community, who do not enjoy these blessings, the poor people everywhere who struggle every day for food and water, clothing and shelter. I think especially of the children, Lord, who suffer the consequences of famine, natural disasters and political turmoil. Why are they always the victims, Lord? Are they any less deserving of good things than I am?

Lord, I thank you for the good health that allows me to move about freely, enjoy life and rise each day to serve you. I think of the people who suffer from various illnesses and disease, those in hospitals and nursing homes, those disabled and incapacitated. Help them, Lord, and let them know the healing power of Jesus in their lives. Thank you, God, for all who care for the sick — doctors and nurses, administrators, staff and pastoral ministers. Bless their good and important service; help them to be effective instruments of your grace and love.

Father, thank you so much for my family and friends, those very special people you’ve given me as companions on this journey of life — people near and far, young and old, male and female. What a difficult journey it would be, Lord, without their friendship and support. Bless those who have nurtured my faith and strengthened my vocation. Help me to think kindly of those friends I’ve lost along the way, either by the changing circumstances of life or through human fault.

As I rejoice in my human relationships, Father, I ask you to look kindly on those who are lonely: young people who think they have no friends; wives and husbands who have endured the pain of failed marriages; the elderly who have lost so many friends through death. May all who feel alone, and whose pain is even more intense in the holiday season, be encouraged by the sincere concern of other people and by your never-failing presence in their daily lives.

Lord, thank you for our nation and for the freedom, security and prosperity that is ours. I am grateful for those who have served so well in the armed services, sometimes even with the sacrifice of their lives. Lord, help us to live justly, promote dignity and respect human life. Move us to be truly generous in welcoming strangers to our land. Remind us, Lord, that it is far better to export food, clothing and medicine than guns and bombs. As we enjoy the bounty of this season, bless the farmers and fishermen who produced our food and help those who are struggling through insecure times.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for my Catholic Faith. What a blessing it has been in my life! We are graced by the dedicated leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, truly a good shepherd of the flock. Thank you for the clear teachings of our Church in matters of faith and morals. Thank you for the seven sacraments of the Church through which we share your life and for the prayers and devotions of the Church which also keep us close to you. I am grateful, Lord, for the gift of my priestly vocation, though I have often failed to live it as I ought.

Dear Lord, thank you for the wonderful people of the Providence Diocese — for the priests, religious and deacons who serve so generously and effectively, day-in and day-out. Thank you for our seminarians; help them to persevere. Thank you for the outstanding laity of our Diocese, Lord, for their personal commitment and generous support for the work of the Church. I am grateful for our children and young people, including those I’ve met in school visits or for the Sacrament of Confirmation. What a treasure they are for the Church and the world.

Thank you, Lord, for the countless little acts of kindness people so often extend to me — for their gifts, their letters of support, their encouraging words, and their prayers. And thanks too for those who dislike me, disagree with me and challenge me. They keep me honest and humble.

Heavenly Father, there are so many blessings and I know I’ve forgotten some. But help me to express my real gratitude not only with my poor words but also by taking care of my gifts, sharing them with others, and using them for the glory of your name.

When words fail me, allow me to take refuge in the Eucharist, that perfect act of thanksgiving and praise. There I join my prayer to that of my Lord Jesus and together we return to you in gratitude and joy. Throughout my life may I live as I so often pray, proclaiming that “it is right to give you thanks and praise.” Amen.