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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

Realize and be thankful

25 Nov 2015 | Fr. Leo F. Arnone, LCDR, CHC, USNR; Chapel Office-MCINCR-MCBQ Marine Corps Base Quantico

Concerning going to church on Thanksgiving Day, my father once told me that if you really believe God has not blessed you in any way, then you are not obliged to go. Now, doesn’t that hit you right between your conscience and your soul!

Luke 17:11-19 tells the story of Christ’s encounter with the ten lepers. All ten had banded together to make their appeal to Jesus for a miracle. He had pity for all ten and granted their heart-felt plea. Only one, however, “realized” that he had been cured and returned to give thanks. Considering the magnitude of their malady, I cannot help but wonder and be amazed how the other nine failed to “realize” their gift.

Realization seems to be the key behind gratitude. Do we realize the blessing we have been given throughout our lives – even throughout our ordinary days? If we are failing to realize our blessing, it might be that we are taking our blessings for granted. Perhaps we might be looking upon our blessings as entitlements. Either way, gratitude is lost when we fail to realize God’s gifts as the blessing they are to us.

I recommend the following, as your new family tradition for Thanksgiving: after you say your grace before meals, and after everyone is seated and enjoying your meal, each member of the family, invited guests—and don’t forget the kids at the children’s table—takes a turn declaring something for which he or she is thankful. The head of the house should go first to help set the tone. I think you will be amazed by what you hear, especially from the children.

This Thanksgiving Day family tradition will take on even greater meaning when you and your family go to church, gather around God’s family table and tell Him all that for which you are thankful. But then again, if you really feel that God has not blessed you, then you are not obliged to go.

Marine Corps Base Quantico