Now, for us as Christians, this seems to be an no-brainer, to give thanks to God.
Yet, I couldn't help but feel Fr. Brian's words pierce my heart. He challenged us to give thanks from the depths of our hearts, in authentic love for God, not just in tokens of gratitude.
And, it made me realize, that I suck at being grateful. I'm not grateful enough. And I probably don't even offer quality gratefulness. It's not because my parents didn't teach this to me. It's not because I don't know how to do it. It's really because I lack the humility to give thanks.
So, here is my very small attempt to live and express the love that I have for the blessings that God has given to me, despite my smallness, and brokennesss...
- To my father, Vicente Jr., who models for me courage and faithfulness to the truth of Jesus Christ and His Church, and the on-going search for that truth. I would not be the man of God I am today without his example.
- To my mother, Maria, who is to me the definition of love: the self-donation, without counting the cost, always willing the good of the other (whoever the other is).
- My sister, Sister Jennifer, who has endured much and sacrificed much to be in the joyful vocation that Christ has called her to live.
- To my brother Steve, who has always embraced and lived the freedom that is ours when we trust the divine plan, not the human plan.
- To my brother Andrew, who is a man in every sense of the word, and growing beautifully in to his vocation of husband and father.
- To my sister-in-law Grace, who has been a blessing to our family from the very moment she entered our lives. My brother is lucky, but I think we're equally as lucky.
- To my cousins, my greatest regret in my life is that there are too many miles that separate us and calendar years between our visits. Yet your presence in my heart and my prayer is always strong.
- To all of my grandparents, Vicente Sr. and Magdalena and Simeon and Eugenia, the best I can do to repay your love is to keep you in prayer and live by the example you set for me.
- To all the priests that have nurtured my faith. My ministry and my desire to do God's Will would not be possible without your wisdom.
- To my Groupies, I never thought the brotherhood of faith that we share would be so necessary for my sanity and my trust and my hope. I need your presence in my life more than you will know.
- For music, especially the Coldplay and John Mayer albums that kept me company during my drive home to LA yesterday.
- For people who don't answer an incoming call on their cell phones in front of other people, particularly when that other person happens to be the God of the Universe.
- To old friends who I lost contact with, please know that I pray everyday for our paths to cross again.
- To Rob, Tony, Trish, Michelle, Patti, Franc, Tina, Debbie, Pete, Susan, Roberta, Del, Cheryl, Tim Liz, Melani, Chris, John, I'm in awe of your dedication and desire to serve. Thank you does not seem like enough of an expression of gratitude.
- To my roommate Nick for how he lives out the Beatitudes.
- To youth workers of every denomination, you are my people! Thanks for sharing this journey with me.
- To the St. James community, who continue to amaze me by their generosity and love.
- To teens past, present and future of St. James Youth Ministry, I cannot name all of you for fear of forgetting someone. But know you have touched my heart and brought me closer to God. My life is most certainly better off for your presence in my life.
- For musicians and speakers who have devoted their talent to serve the people of God, you give me reason to pray hard and worship more from the depths of my heart.
- For the Sacraments, the source of my life.
- For my many crosses, God's gift to me that I may glorify Him and allow him to love me.