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If we should have a profound sense of the divine goodness in giving us daily food for the support of our animal life, and clothing for the protection of our body, how much stronger should be our obligation for the supersubstantial Bread that our Father gives us for the nourishment of our soul, and for the garments of grace and innocence with which He clothed us in baptism! If we should be thankful to Him for having given us dominion over the birds. of the air and the beasts of the field, how much more grateful should we be that He has given us power to subdue those spiritual monsters and birds of prey namely, our passions! This He has done by teaching us to subject them to reason. If, in a word, we owe a debt of gratitude to our Heavenly Benefactor for having made us lords of His earthly manor, how much greater is our debt for having made us prospective heirs of His everlasting kingdom.

And all these blessings our Saviour has, out of pure love and without hope of reward, vouchsafed to us as the price of His own Blood. Well can He say to each of us: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends;"1 for the strongest evidence of human affection is to sacrifice one's life for a friend. But divine love has gone still farther, for Jesus laid down His life even for His enemies. "When we were enemies," says the Apostle, "we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son."2

1 John XV., 13. Rom. V., 10.

Now, when we place before our eyes, the manifold gifts of God both in the order of nature and of grace, we may well be astounded at the enormity of the sin of ingratitude. There is no vice more hurtful to ourselves, none more abhorred by men, none more odious to God than the vice of unthankfulness. "Ingratitude," says St. Bernard, "is a parching wind that dries up the fountains of piety, the dew of mercy, and the torrents of grace.” "The earth," says St. Paul, "that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it and . . . which bringeth forth thorns and briars, is rejected . . . whose end is to be burnt."1

And shall not the soul that drinks in the rain of divine grace and that brings forth no first fruits of thanksgiving, but only thorns of ingratitude, be likewise rejected?-for God's grace is too precious to be wasted.

Mankind has a peculiar abhorrence of ingratitude. A man would rather be accused of profanity or of cruelty or of intemperance or of lying than to be charged with an ungrateful sense of obligations towards a benefactor. These sins may sometimes be palliated as resulting from a momentary passion or dread of confusion; but ingratitude always betrays a cold, heartless disposition.

So odious is this sin in the sight of God and so acceptable to Him is the opposite virtue, that He has implanted an instinct of gratitude even in the

1 Heb. VI., 7, 8.

brute creation. When He reproaches the Jews for their ingratitude, He bids them learn a lesson from the dumb beast. "I have brought up children," He says, "and exalted them: but they have despised Me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel hath not known Me, and My people have not understood." The ox recog

nizes with affection the master that feeds him; and we are indifferent to the Divine Hand that sustains us. The ox submits meekly to the yoke; and we grow impatient of the yoke of the Gospel. The ox ploughs the field, which yields a harvest to its master; and we fail to cultivate in our soul the fruits of sanctification.

All are familiar, I dare say, with the story of Androcles and the lion, a story that is well authenticated.2 Androcles, who was a slave, fled from his cruel master and buried himself in the forest. One day, a lion approached him and, with piteous moans, held up his paw, which was swollen with corruption. Androcles, at once interpreting the cause of the lion's pain, extracted the thorn and thus relieved the suffering beast. The lion manifested his joy and gratitude by frisking about and, at last, crouching at Androcles' feet. His gratitude and affection did not stop here. He began to share his prey with his benefactor. Some time after, Androcles was recaptured and condemned to be devoured by wild beasts. Imagine the astonishment of the spectators assem

1 Is. I., 2, 3.

2 Aulus Gellius, L. V., C. XIV.

bled about the arena when they saw that the hungry lion, which proved to be the forest companion of Androcles, after bounding toward his intended victim, instead of seizing and devouring him, gambolled about him and, in every possible manner, manifested his joy on meeting again his benefactor.

O what a lesson this king of the forest teaches us all! When we were groaning under the weight of our iniquities, our Saviour God drew the poison of sin from our heart at the sacrifice of His own life. He healed our wounds with His own Precious Blood. "He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins."1 He died that we might live. He became a slave that we might be free. How do we repay Him? Like the lion, we are seized with the cravings of hunger. Our hunger is ambition. Our hunger is anger. Our hunger is lust and avarice. Angels look on as spectators, to record the issue of our struggle with our passion. We rush into the We are met by our Divine Benefactor who shows us the Wounds He has received for us. He appeals to our gratitude. Our passions appeal to our personal gratification. We sacrifice our Benefactor to our hungry concupiscence. Gratitude gives way to appetite. We "crucify again the Son of God, and make Him a mockery."2 "Go to the ant, thou sluggard," says the Wise Man, "and . . . learn wisdom." He could say, likewise: "Go to the dumb


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beast, thou ingrate, and learn gratitude to thy Redeemer."

The Apostle of the Gentiles is never weary of giving thanks to God. In his Epistle to the Romans, in both of his Epistles to the Corinthians, in his Epistles to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, in the two to the Thessalonians, in both of those addressed to Timothy, and in his Letter to Philemon, he pours forth his thanks for the spiritual blessings bestowed on himself and his disciples. And in every instance, his expressions of gratitude occur in the opening chapter, as if to admonish us, that all our prayers and good works should be inaugurated by thanksgiving.

The Church is not less zealous than the Apostle in fulfilling this sacred duty. Our Saviour was once sacrificed for our Redemption on the altar of the cross. And, from the rising to the setting of the sun, she daily commemorates this great event on ten thousand altars by the great Eucharistic Sacrifice which, as the very name implies, is a Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.

Every devout Christian should rejoice that the Chief Executive of this nation, as well as the Governors of the different States are accustomed once a year to invite the people of the United States to return thanks to God for His blessings to us. It is a healthy sign to see our Chief Magistrate officially proclaiming the supreme dominion and fatherly supervision of our Creator.

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