If each of the months of the year were assigned a quality, it might
be said that March is lucky and July is independent, but November is
always grateful. Although the Thanksgiving holiday comes at the end of
November, it lends an atmosphere of gratitude to the entire month. This
month also marks the end of the Church's liturgical year, while the
calendar year begins the last stretch toward the finish line. Thus, it
is a fitting time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for.
In recent weeks and months, we have watched as so many areas of our
nation and continent have experienced severe weather crises. We remember
the fires of Northern California, the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and
Puerto Rico, and the earthquake in Mexico. During this same period, our
Western New York community enjoyed memorably good weather. We are
fortunate, indeed, to live in an area where the worst weather we are apt
to face will more likely yield snowmen and snow days than lasting
devastation. As we express gratitude to God for the blessings of our
geographic region, let us remember in our prayers all those who have
been affected by natural disasters. I also want to take this opportunity
to thank the people of our diocese for your very generous response to
the several disaster relief collections that were taken throughout our
diocese in response to these catastrophic events.
Our diocese has much for which to be thankful. I know that you join
me in expressing gratitude to the priests, deacons, religious and lay
church ministers who serve our parishes, schools, institutions and
community with faithful, generous spirits. Please make a point to
express your gratitude to them, as they most likely do not hear it
enough! In particular, we are grateful for our four new priests, who
were ordained in June, as well as the six deacons who received Holy
Orders in September. Let us keep them in our prayers along with the
growing number of seminarians studying for the priesthood at Christ the
King Seminary in East Aurora and St. Mark's Seminary in Erie, Pa.
At this time of year, our thoughts often turn to those who have gone
before us. We recall family members whose absence is felt at the
Thanksgiving table and who live on through stories we share about them.
May our memories of them warm our hearts and inspire our lives. Let us
be thankful for those who have given us the gift of life and the gift of
faith! In return for what we have received from these deceased loved
ones, may we be faithful to them through our prayers and offerings on
We are fortunate that the American holiday of Thanksgiving takes
place during the month when the universal Church remembers the Holy
Souls in Purgatory. It is appropriate that we would recall our faithful
departed with grateful hearts during this month. Praying for the
deceased is a spiritual work of mercy and a great act of generosity. On
any day of the year, you can gain a partial indulgence for the souls in
purgatory by visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed. However,
if you make such a visit from Nov. 1-8, you can obtain a plenary
indulgence for these holy souls! Our diocese is blessed to have seven
cemeteries and multiple parish cemeteries that provide beautiful, sacred
ground for the reverent burial and remembrance of our beloved deceased.
Far from being a morbid experience, visiting a cemetery is a healthy
practice. It reminds us of our own mortality and encourages us to be
grateful for the gift of life as we strive to live each day to the
Please remember the Holy Souls in your prayers this month and
throughout the year. They will surely be grateful for your generosity
and will not forget you when they reach heaven!
Let us be grateful as well for the faith, hope and love that we know
through our Catholic faith. These three theological virtues are
especially needed during our present times. The recent attack in Las
Vegas is a chilling reminder of the darkness and violence that exists
within the human heart. We continue to pray for those who were lost that
night and for all those still recovering from this tragedy. Let us also
pray that the goodness of human nature will become more evident in our
society as we know that good will ultimately triumph over evil.
Most of all, we owe boundless gratitude to our loving God, who
brought us into existence and keeps us there through His benevolent
care. Our very lives are a gratuitous gift of God, as He does not need
us in order to be happy or complete. Yet He created each of us and
sustains us with His love! It is to God that we owe the greatest debt of
gratitude. It has been said that "Thank you" is the simplest prayer
when addressed to God. G.K. Chesterton reflected that "thanks are the
highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
Indeed, God's goodness to us is a source of tremendous happiness and
wonder. Let us strive to offer our lives as a living act of gratitude
for all that God has done and continues to do for us.
I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving! Be assured
of my gratitude for each of you and my prayers for your intentions.
- Bishop Richard J. Malone