Take Action Against Inhumane Conditions in Meat Packing Industries

* I am inviting you to make a phone call on behalf of abused poultry and meat packing Workers, many of whom are immigrants and don’t have a voice in government. They are striving to work hard to support themselves and their families in hazardous working conditions.

  1. Watch John Oliver’s Sunday EXPOSË: Meatpacking: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhO1FcjDMV

2. If you don’t have time to watch, just ake my word for it, phone

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee 503 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515Phone: (202) 225-2095

Tell his rep that your are phoning regarding his role as Chair of the House Education and Labor. URGE Congressman DeSaulnier to get the USDA to set universal SAFE SPEED LINES for workers in the poultry and meat packing industries. Conditions are currently inhumane and workers’ injuries are frequent and all too commonplace.

In addition, universal base lines for WORKERS’ COMPENSATION need to be put in effect as the variances between individual states’ requirements are unjust and in some cases, requirements are nonexistent.

Factories featured in John Oliver’s HBO series LAST WEEK TONIGHT need FEDERAL intervention as it is clear individual states are doing nothing to address the situations on both counts. Regarding Poultry: Tyson Poultry, Sanderson Farms, Perdue and Pilgrims. Regarding Beef and Pork: Tyson Meats, JBS, Cargill and National Beef.

In addition: please follow up with OSHA (OCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT) It is imperative you implement FEDERAL EMERGENCY WORKPLACE STANDARDS for SOCIAL DISTANCING (i.e. specifically workers distancing themselves along the poultry / meat conveyors) because of the tragic number of COVID cases and Covid death related cases in the poultry and meat packing industries Clearly, Individual State Legislatures have done nothing to protect workers not only in regard to Covid transmissions but the high incidents of accidental cuts and other injuries. Furthermore, many workers are penalized for taking necessary bathroom breaks – a practice that is offensive as well as inhumane. I would appreciate a reply to know how best to assist you in following up on these concerns. Thank you.

Tell him or her that you would appreciate a reply to know how best to assist in following up on these concerns.

IS THIS HOW GOD LOVES US?

A Reflection on a Lyric from Stephen Sondheim’s musical play PASSION


I re-watched a DVDI have of Stephen Sondheim’s PASSION. In the play, a man who has run away from a woman’s obsessive love finally surrenders to it. Georgio addresses Fosca with these lyrics by Sondheim. I’ve been thinking we could almost say the same thing to GOD.

Here’s the lyric:


“No one has truly loved me

As you have . . .

Love without reason,

Love without mercy,

Love without pride or shame.

Love unconcerned

With being returned —

No wisdom, no judgement,

No caution, no blame.

No one has ever known me

As clearly as you.

No one has ever shown me

What love could be like until now.

Not pretty or safe or easy.

But more than I ever knew.

Love within reason –that isn’t love.

And I’ve learned that from you. . . “

Homily for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

14 February 2021 by Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

“The ‘Boss,’ the Pope, a church in Lebanon, and our True INHERITANCE”

An article on MSN website came to my attention this week.  Entitled “The ‘Boss,’ the Pope and a church in Lebanon,” by Boyd Matheson, it described the synchronicity of 3 events worthy of world attention:  In a unique Super Bowl ad, Bruce urged Americans to put aside our differences and foster mutual respect, reconciliation, and collaboration for a better future. Using the symbol of a little church in Lebanon, Kansas, located at the literal center of the continental United States, his message was meant to empower a coming together figuratively, spiritually, physically, of all Americans to “the Center,” the heart of what our nation is supposed to be.

Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis, in the annual assembly of ambassadors to the Holy See, issued this statement: “The democratic process,” he said, “calls for pursuing the path of inclusive, peaceful, constructive and respectful dialogue among all the components of civil society in every city and nation.”  The Pope went on to say, ““I am convinced that fraternity (I’ll add the implied “sorority”) is the true cure for the pandemic and the many evils that have affected us. Along with vaccines, fraternity and hope are, as it were, the medicine we need in today’s world.”

And listen to this title of an article from AMERICA magazine: “For the first time, Pope Francis appoints a woman with the right to vote as undersecretary of the synod of bishops” Her name is Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Xavière Sisters, Missionaries of Jesus Christ, in France.

And, as if this were not GOOD NEWS enough, I found this series entitled INHERITANCE published online by ATLANTIC magazine filled with articles on all that we have missed in African American history to advance common knowledge, empathy, and dialogue among Americans of European and African descent.  I highly recommend you look it up.  Here’s the link:

How W. E. B. Du Bois Changed Black Childhood in America – The Atlantic

Within the INHERITANCE project, I read about the great humanitarian and civil rights activist W.E.B. du Bois’ 1920 efforts publishing a Magazine for Black Children called THE BROWNIE BOOK with this goal: 

“It aims to be a thing of Joy and Beauty, dealing in Happiness, Laughter and Emulation, and designed especially for Kiddies from Six to Sixteen. It will seek to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk—black and brown and yellow and white. Of course, pictures, stories, letters from little ones, games and oh—everything!

The effort lasted only two years because of lack of subscriptions but it is the kind of thing that this 21st century needs. We still do not live in a world, or a country, in which every child, especially minorities whose skin is dark, brown, copper, yellow receive this kind of affirmation with freedom from fear of being who they are and who God calls them to be.  This is urgent as we address the goals of BLACK LIVES MATTER and to address the related issues, we read in today’s news headlines “A Tense Lunar New Year for the Bay Area After Attacks on Asian-Americans.”  Tragically, yet another minority continues to be scapegoated through violence not only because of pre-existing, lingering prejudices but because of the irrational blaming for a peoples’ proximity to the place where the corona virus originated.

And here’s another NEWS ITEM: God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth: “As Catholic Bishops in the United States, we join with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in standing up for at-risk LGBT youth in our country.  . . As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way . . . The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you. . . Most of all, know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

God Is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops on Protecting LGBT Youth • Tyler Clementi Foundation

Taking all these things into account—we must trust that the Holy Spirit is indeed active in the world for all of these news items to come together in a single week! — we must embrace the goal of affirming all peoples, all children –with ministries and programs to support them – as the necessary objective of our age.

Why do I focus on this insistence on TRUE COMMUNION among all peoples?  Because we are the JESUS’ FOLLOWERS WHO INSIST ON COMMUNION and because today’s Gospel involving Jesus curing the leaper is as much about restoring an individual back into his family and neighborhood as it is about his individual healing.  

In the Book of Leviticus, Moses and Aaron are cited as preaching the need to separate the lepers from the community to preserve the health of the larger group.  But this separation did not exclude care, delivery of food and necessities to the leper camp. As then, and now, the mysteries of illnesses and diseases require caution, prudence, and support.  Jesus, however, extends the care to freedom from fear and solidarity in suffering – that is the meaning of the CROSS and the fact that Jesus touches the leper. The medical community continues to be exemplary in responding to the COVID-19 virus and inspired compassionate treatment of family members and friends even as they need to stay in isolation.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that ultimate goal, however, always was and always will be INCLUSION and that HEALING includes liberation from whatever separates us, be it physical illness or the diseases of prejudice, fear, hate and violence.

What a gift that Jesus welcomes his followers to Communion. What a privilege to know that the sacrament we participate in today strengthens us with courage and wisdom to persevere in offering true communion to the world.

Commentary on Luke 5:12 to 26

 (To Accompany Luke Live! Online! On YouTube.) 

Now we may reflect on these two powerful healing stories.  In the first we recognize Jesus is fearless in restoring the leper back to health and communion with others, for to allow another to be isolated without a tangible sense of belonging is an affront to the Kingdom.  Jesus in not afraid to touch the leper, to heal him and offer him acceptance back into community—this acceptance confirmed through Jesus’ order the cleansed man get official recognition from the priests.   All of this points to what makes Jesus’ healing unique among other healings: their purpose is not only to remove a sickness in an individual but in society at large.  For Christ, no suffering or illness is to alienate us from others but rather the community is urged to welcome and support everyone especially in his or her time of distress. Only this way can society redeem itself from pride and arrogance and those underlying fears that separate people and exacerbate suffering.  As we have noted earlier, Jesus does not want special recognition for this accomplishment, he thwarts celebrity status because his example is meant to be applied universally to all of humanity.  What may seem “special” in Jesus is meant to be the norm for all peoples.

The healing of the paralytic is significant in that it is the faith of the paralytic’s friends that evokes Jesus’ healing him.  Here we see how the faith of individuals impacts others and the incident evidences the bond that faith establishes between the healthy and the sick.  Furthermore, this healing exemplifies the interconnection of bodily and spiritual health and well-being.  Jesus is concerned with both because the human body and spirit are of one and the same entity, fulfilling the very design and intention of God.  Also, note that although on the surface it may seem there is a direct correlation between one’s sins and physical health, many scholars today interpret Jesus’ words “Your sins are forgiven” not to apply to the paralytic’s personal sins (which would indicate on some level that sickness is a punishment for sins—an ancient concept that Jesus refutes elsewhere in the Gospels) but rather “sins” here refers to the collective offenses of humankind grounded in denial of God and the inter-connectedness of all people and all creatures–all aspects of God’s creation.  It is true that our emotional and spiritual condition (that may encompass feelings of guilt, resentments, and regrets) does, in fact, impact our bodily health, but the Gospel gradually moves us away from that old sense that sickness is a direct punishment for individual sins.   (You may wish to consult Luke 13:1-5, Matthew 5: 45, John’s Gospel 9:1-3 and, of course, the entire book of Job—the innocent man who suffers not as a punishment for sins but simply because suffering exists in this world.)

Here, I would like to remind you of a GOLDEN RULE for encountering Scripture: Never take one passage and keep it isolated from other passages. Every segment of scripture evidences a stage in the people’s spiritual development which grows in sporadic leaps, and, at times, regresses to earlier insights. Therefore, the true value of a passage may only be discerned when segments on similar topics are place in conversation with them. Considering JOB and the Gospel verses cited above, it should be clear that Jesus is speaking about the universal SIN of worldliness devoid of attentiveness to God and God’s ways–something that all of us participate in often without realizing it. That is “the sin that is forgiven.” Moreover, may it not be lost on us that as “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” Jesus concretizes what his fellow Jews already knew and should have known better: God wants us to participate in God’s essence. God’s Forgiveness is to be expressed and lived out continually among all who see themselves as children of God. (I will address more on the complexity of the processes of forgiveness and the distinction between offering forgiveness and accepting abuse or tolerating evil in the weeks to come!)

Fourth Sunday of Advent in the Liturgical Year of 2020 – 2021

Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

“In the Bleak Mid-Winter frosty winds made moan

Earth stood hard as iron

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow

In the Bleak Mid-Winter long ago.”   Christina Rossetti

Think back to the days of childhood. Was there ever enough snow?  Nothing bleak about a beautiful, bountiful snowfall. The rush to breakfast, dress for school, last minute homework –all activity suspended, all sound sublimated to silence: traffic stopped—no one is driving at all; no horns blowing, no cop whistles.  Maybe the sound of a foghorn announcing School is closed.  After that, all is still.   All is hushed.  Oatmeal never tasted so good as on a snowy morning.

There is an inner child in us all, in whom our hopes and dreams are ever-present –even now when we, fully grown-up, might grouse, bemoan the shoveling, the icy obstacles to our best laid plans.  Yet even we men and women, waking up to a frosty morn, pause perhaps for yet one more cup of coffee, a deep breath, a long sigh, maybe even a nostalgic note of youthful fantasies before embarking upon our day.

I still dream of bountiful snowfalls. For me, this week’s meager 8 inches were a major disappointment.  Don’t you, too, long for a change from “busy, busy, busy?”  Even when we plan an expected day off, we plan and schedule much too much.  We need more Snow to SURPRISE US, drift us into empty space, nothingness, empty vessels awaiting fulfillment from God.  TIMELESSNESS, dear friends, is true Spirituality: A CONSCIOUSNESS of immanence, of the presence, the power that sustains beating hearts, pulsating lungs.  Advent, now beginning its fourth week, has been calling us to just that kind of “slow down,” inviting us to question how we choose to live out our days.

In some ways, this pandemic has been and continues to be a kind of Advent, a slowing down, an ever-expanding snowy day. Blanketed in sickness and death for millions, with millions more grieving, yet not without hope, not without cultivating in many of us a desire for self-care equally aligned with care for our neighbors. 2020 has heightened our sensibilities to our mortality—as the Cross of Jesus has been doing for 2,000 years. This year, Nature Herself has compelled us to attend to the vulnerable because of our own vulnerabilities in the same way Advent prepares us for deeper insights into Jesus.  We, the remnant, the survivors of the year, should be filled with gratitude and, hopefully, now more than ever, appreciating interruption, inconvenience, postponement as the means to be present to one another, aware of “God With Us” in life and in death. And is not PRAYER a postponement?  It interrupts our activities, however, essential, however important we deem them to be.  Why, to many Catholics, even MASS is an inconvenience.  But dare I say, at its heart, Mass is a respite, a pregnant pause for God not unlike the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary –a marvelous interruption!   Mass can be our “Snowy Day.”  And the Gospel today reveals that our Blessed Mother was remarkably prepared for it!

Have you ever thought of this:  what were Mary’s goals, hopes, dreams beforeGabriel appeared?  What were her plans for her day?  I am sure she was set to do all that was expected of her– kindling the household fire, fetching water at the well, kneading dough, sweeping for a lost coin.  And what of her life’s ambition, her long-term objectives?  Marriage to a rabbi perhaps?  Or another man of equal status or position? Did Joseph match her expectations or was it a match arranged by her parents? How did she come to love Joseph?  What kind of home did she envision for herself and her husband?  Did she want a large family — children, adorable children bustling about home and hearth?   We tend not to acknowledge this basic, entirely human dimension of Mary’s story because we often rush to the end and take much for granted along the way.  

Clearly, our Blessed Mother was invited to postpone her plans just as we have and will continue to do because life will always assault us with interruptions!  Yes, “the best laid plans of mice and men!”  Mary was humble enough to be open, to be fluid and flexible because she evidently devoted considerable time in her days to stop and be still, for pregnant paused to ponder Scripture, Sacred Prophecies, Holy Days, and rituals –to be mindful of God.  Her assent to Gabriel’s announcement could only have come if she had already cultivated a prayerful pace for living. Taking time to affirm for herself that she could believe, she would believe in a promised Messiah, before knowing that she would be the chosen vessel of his Incarnation.

In these final days of Advent, I invite us to carefully, mindfully, cultivate a Snowy Day Sensibility, A Marian Spirituality to live mindfully, moment to moment in HOPE, cultivating Faith’s WISDOM.  Above all, that means we must reclaim and acclaim Jesus as our model for daily living, for we, too, are vessels of Christ’s presence in this world.  2020 has made us ever more attentive to the realities of our human condition. Mary’s assent that we need a Messiah needs to be ours, too. Pause. Ponder. Be Still. Know who you are, continue to hold in your heart all that we are celebrating Now, this day, and Christmas Day, and onward to eternity.  Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent Liturgical Year 2021


See the source image

Readings: Second Sunday of Advent | USCCB

Each of us are invited to embody aspects of the Scriptures, especially, of course, the life of Jesus. I repeat this adage frequently to myself:  Everything about the Life of Jesus is meant to inform my own life –Yours, too!  In his time, John the Baptist embodied Isaiah’s Prophecy: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill be made low;”

What do we make of Isaiah’s spiritual poetry?   What does it mean for mountains to be flattened and valleys smoothed?  Nothing less than all barriers to God are removed.  Images of tree lined paths upon the plains also remind us of the importance of humility, of being “grounded” in God. 

I found inspiration from a film I watched this week.  We live in a highly visually oriented culture, and most of us watch a considerable amount of films and television.  Therefore, we must keep what we watch in conversation with our faith.  The film I watched this time made it easy to do just that.  Entitled ‘THE HOLLY AND THE IVY,” this 1952 British film tells the story three adult children spending Christmas Day with their widowed father who happens to be the village parson.   These young adults have not lived model lives despite their father’s spiritual fervor and the strong morality and high ideals he impressed upon them.  It was not that dad was unsympathetic, nor was he an unforgiving man, yet the offspring never felt they could open their hearts and minds to their “Father” father.  From childhood to the very Christmas depicted in the film, they didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t express their difficulties, their hardships, mistakes, especially not their sins to Father Gregory for fear of causing him disappointment, or exasperating their guilt.  In this sense, “the mountains were too high,” the valleys too low.”  When, finally, the film reaches its climax and the children’s secrets are revealed, there is a powerful catharsis.  The mountains made low, the valleys filled, all from the freedom that comes from being known and understood. That, dear friends, is “the freedom of the children of God.”

The movie proved a great reminder to me that Goodness –however much we experience and strive for goodness –is not the same as “being REAL”—honest in our struggles with faith, hope and love.  Our religious practice must be grounded in “’down to earth” realities.  We are not called to flee in fear from confession, from Sacraments or from one another, but humbly acknowledge that while we strive to imitate Christ, holding ourselves accountable to righteousness and moral integrity,  we must accept each other for who we are and who we are not, refraining from judgment and condemnation in order to say to one another, “I understand,” “I, too, am tempted,”  “I too have failed.”

Do you see why we needed John the Baptist to prepare us for Christ?  Do you see how repentance and forgiveness are the path to Jesus? To encounter Christ, we need to be flattened out!  We need to be open, trusting.  We need to be REAL in order to be GOOD; not only to prepare ourselves for Christmas, but to live the lives our Savior intends us to live.

Optional Second Ending: May we resolve this very day –now with two Advent Candles lighting [JD1] our way– to support one another in prayer, uphold one another in the sacramental life, affirm our need for ongoing forgiveness, to live Christian hope and fortitude.  Indeed, allowing honesty and reconciliation to make straight our path to Jesus, we may indeed address the wrongs we commit and our world’s dysfunction.  Both. Truly.  And remember the path we are walking on is the stairway to heaven.  


 [JD1]

A Homiletic Poem for the First Sunday of Advent 2020 by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

A flickering candle in a darkened room.  The light is golden, the flame, gentle. It beckons.  It even seems to desire us and say, “Come, to my light!”  Still, it does not speak of its own accord, for a candle is but a sign—a sign for something, rather, Some One whose voice spoke long ago, “Be not afraid.” The Light Shines in the darkness and darkness shall not overcome it!  Yes, it is only one candle, but sufficient to point to the One who is humble of heart, who is neither too much, nor too little, who is the Eternal NOW. 

Let’s face it. Without Him, this world is too much for us.  It always was and always will be.  Indeed, right now, some people are too much for us! The stores are too much, the carols too ubiquitous already!  We haven’t even learned our Advent Hymns—not after all these years.  Maybe one. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  But heavens!  There are dozens more, each with a lesson for our souls.  We have 25 days.  Get started!

Advent offers much on its own, insisting that we live with longing for better days while attentive to Christ Past, Christ Present and Christ Future. If we let Him, Christ will cultivate in us a daily receptiveness to grace, fortifying in us perpetual patience to live one moment at a time, one day a time, one difficulty at a time.  Of course, there is temptation to light all the candles now!  But we must not!  One must be sufficient for today. We need the patience of Jesus now more than ever–and only we can choose to cultivate it.  Savor it. Allow the True Light of Jesus to enlighten our minds in one singular, sweet, deep breath—that’s all that matters now.  Breathe! Just Breathe!  And look to the candle!  If you cannot see it, imagine the flame! Let it warm your heart!

From this single flame, let Jesus convey Himself to you. Allow Him to penetrate your very being.   “Be still” but do not be stoic. Be firm in faith but with a faith that is fluid, too, fluid as Creation, as fluid as Advent which moves us backward and forward in time while living “in the moment” at the very same time. 

The First Sunday of Advent insists we embark on a voyage of memory to learn from our ancestors’ mistakes and our own; to admit that, yes, while we would all rather run away from all that bothers us today—and so much bothered us this year, and still does–Christ is behind us, Christ is beside us, Christ is before us perpetually offering the better way.

Allow Christ to take us far, far, farther back in time, to see this single flame as part of the one Eternal Flame, of Time before Time –long before we have had to prove ourselves or defend ourselves to anyone, before we had to make enemies of others to feel better about ourselves or worse, play the victim—for when we compare ourselves to true victims, we are not true victims at all.  But hope abides by going back beyond our pasts to the origin of the molecules that make up the wonder of you, of me, of everybody–of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen that long before we came on the scene, formed stars imploding, exploding!  Stars that in time, so much time—expanded their molecules to mix with molten ash and salty seas, and water ways flowing  from fresh, clear mountain ice –plants convoking convocations of creatures, primitive and primary, who came upon dry land to feast upon leaves, fruits and berries, multiplying, diversifying, evolving until, at last, with beating hearts and expanding brains: humanity . Thus, our ancestors came into consciousness and full human existence.  But not for our sake alone.  Not for aggrandizement, not for power, nor subjugation of fawn, field, or flower, nor to vanquish fellow beings—but to yield through hundreds of thousands of years to the ONE, to YIELD to the one who was and who is the pinnacle, the purpose of all creation—the ONE through Whom We Were Formed who humbly appeared in time —so that we may perceive in time and space–the perfect synthesis of Human and Divine: the Man God: Jesus the Christ.  Let these truths, THIS CHRIST — put all our issues in proper perspective.

Advent beckons back to such great beginnings and thrusts us into present realities. It invites us to marvel at God’s constancy and patience—through the people of the Bible, through the scandal of divisions of our time — precisely to clear our minds of all the cobwebs and shadows that distract us from our humble origins and our divine objectives. Yes, heaven is the goal, but it is to be lived out in harmony with every living thing; in humble gratitude for the distinctiveness that came to us only in time, GOD’S TIME, and with a God WHO IS NOT YET FINISHED WITH US!  We ignore that to our detriment and to our peril.   Sure, we can wallow in the wounds of this year or we can push forward – but let it not be in accordance with our will, our games of “hide and seek,” but in accordance with the Will of the True God revealed through Scripture and Sacrament:  A Living Christ Among Us.

  Too often we refuse to acknowledge how much we forestall, postpone, delay our spiritual, emotional, intellectual growth—yes, all of these in harmony and balance is what true holiness is.   Advent is a Seasonal Gift that says: Stop! Stay! Do not run away! Our problems will follow us wherever we go. Slowly surrender to Jesus so that we may abide imperfect people and recognize that in our own imperfect, unappreciated selves, Christ never abandons us, bestowing on us peace and perseverance through any and every provocation—not so unlike those He himself from infancy to death endured!  Yes, each in our own way and time are unappreciated.  Yet how much more unappreciated was He!   So, again, the Church commits us to a new year to patiently ponder our origins in Christ. May we not make ourselves so important, our guilts and grievances so great that we neglect our humble beginnings or forsake the One suffered for us, suffers with us, and offers something eternally new.  

Look around!  Look around!  Who did Christ intend you to see?  You took a step into this church—a building and a people. One more step forward is all that is needed to find communion.  Soon, and very, very soon, you will be welcomed to walk up the aisle to receive Jesus and to perceive through Him, the true purpose for why we are here: For when you return from receiving the Eucharist, others will be revealed to you:   Christ receivers, all. Christ perceivers, all. Christ bearers —Imperfect, impractical, impudent, nasty, selfish, mean-spirited, awful people—as each of us in turn can be. Welcome to Jesus’ world!  Yet this, too, is meant to be a comfort to us –this vision of others. For truly, we are not alone in our sins. Do not worry! Be happy! Misery loves company!  But more than that, more than that, in Christ, all that is miserable in us remains in a continuous Process of Redemption.  Conversion today! Conversion tomorrow and the next day!  It is Resurrection now! And Our God will never let the transformation stop!   Like with every married couple: for better, for worse, God bestows me upon you, you upon me, and everybody upon everybody else to become a communion of Saints-in-the-making just as sure as Jesus called Disciples long ago. Remember this: Our Savior was not a private tutor.  Our acceptance of Jesus as “Our Personal Lord and Savior” will only go so far because He is a Universal Savior!  The Cosmic Christ!  Remember that.

May we be satisfied this day with waiting for Christ as we attend to Christ in others; enjoying one candle at a time; one good friend at a time; one faithful spouse, one grateful child, niece or nephew at a time; one particular beloved Saint, one relative or loved one already in heaven—Yes, one at a time to remind us of our perpetual communion with Saints and Sinners as Christ affords us the patience to put up with one another until Christ is all in all. Let that be enough to bring Christ to us today, tomorrow and the next day. One Advent at a time, one moment at a time.  One day at a time. Why, “That Day” is TODAY! And let this day, this day, be glorious!   

Suggestions for a Prayerful Thanksgiving (And FUN!)

BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS:  

  • Set DVR to pre-record Thanksgiving Day parade(s) and Football Games; pre-record or purchase/rent CHARLIE BROWN THANKSIVING or other cartoons
  • Book or Paper Copy of OVER THE RIVER & THROUGH THE WOODS by Lydia Maria Child * and other Autumn / Thanksgiving Poems such as The MIST & ALL (Keep aside until DESERT COURSE)
  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
  • A Card Table with Index Cards & pens/pencils, a Small Basket or Shoebox and One Sheet of Paper with these 2 “Treasured Gifts” Questions printed:
    • “What experience this year do I treasure most?”     
    •  “What gift have I received from last Birthday or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”
  • Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube (See item IX below)

II   DURING ARRIVALS and /or Hors D’oeuvres: Invite everyone to print on an index card or post-it their response to this question: “What experience have I treasured most this year?”  and /or “What gift have I received from last Thanksgiving or Christmas to date that I still enjoy?”  Place these “Treasured Gifts” papers in a small basket and place the basket on or near the dining table. During the first course, guests will try to guess who wrote what.

III TRADITIONAL GRACE “PLUS” Each guest identifies how they feel today using one “Feeling Word.” (“Happy,” “Sad,” “Thankful,” “Frustrated,” etc.)  No judgments allowed! Then, pray: “Dear God, Here We Are–Our family and friends–and these are the feelings we bring to this Thanksgiving Day.  Helps us understand the beautiful way You accept each us as we are. Make us confident in your love so that we may be at peace and feel your presence among us.  Help us to make the most of this meal, this day, and our time together.”  Then invite everyone to join in the Traditional Grace before Meals, OR if your company is of mixed religions, substitute the Christian Grace with this: “Blessed are YOU, Source of Life, God known by so many names, help us to experience GRATITUDE, for gratefulness is the pathway to mutual affection and the road to peace. Bless our Meal and our Conversation. Amen.”

III         FIRST COURSE ACTIVITY (Soup/Salad/Antipasto): Treasured Gifts: Each person takes a paper and reads it aloud. Guests try to guess who wrote it—i.e. match the statement with its author.  Once guessed, invite the person to share why he or she is thankful for this gift. 

IV         DURING THE MAIN MEAL: Invite each Guest to share his or her memories of the best Thanksgiving OR ANY SPECIAL MEAL that they have ever experienced and why it is an important memory for him or her.

V          AFTER THE MAIN MEAL PRAYER:  Thanksgiving is a Day of Gratitude which is a Day of Prayer. Before we take a break, I invite us to share our prayers for one another and others.  For whom and what should we pray?” Close with Psalm 121.

VI         AFTER MEAL WALKS & PRE-DESSERT CLEAN UPS: Postpone desert and encourage Physical Activity: walks outdoors or help in the kitchen if weather does not permit, Football fans can catch up on the game; Others PLAY COMMUNITY GAMES and/or access your DVR for the recorded PARADE(s) or Cartoons. 

VII       DURING DESERT:   

  1. Together recall the Thanksgiving Poem: Over the River and Through the Woods –After everyone has had a try reciting or singing a verse, pass around the copy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood
  2. Invite guests to share any favorite poems, rhymes, riddles or Autumn memories.

VIII      EVERYONE JOINS IN FOR FINAL CLEAN UP (OR, if space limitations in the kitchen, create Two Teams:  Those who go for walks and/or into the living room; and those who help in the Kitchen.  Try to have each team mixed with all ages, both men/woman/boys/girls if possible.  Each team memorizes OVER THE RIVER—as many verses as possible. Afterwards, gather together and see which Team remembers the most. 

IX         SOCIAL TIME:

  • Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
    • Dancing: Access Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube
      • Old Fashioned WALTZ; I recommend “O Mio Babbino Caro” sung by Kiri Tekanawa (CD: Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Verdi & Puccini Arias;
      • Celebrate Married Couples with “I Dreamed of You” by Barbra Streisand: (CD Barbra Streisand: A Love Like Ours;

X          Farewells As each person prepares to leave, ask if they would like a final Thanksgiving

Blessing.  If yes, the Hosts may place their hands on each guest’s head or shoulders and

pray the PRIESTLY BLESSING from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6: 24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! “Conclude with “Safe home!  Godspeed!  God bless!”

OPTIONAL CHARITABLE COMPONENT TO THANKSGIVING DAY: INVTIE GUESTS TO BRING A SINGLE $ 1. BILL for each member of his or her family or party to participated in a PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME. Designate a charity and let them know what the dollars are for in advance OR have everyone vote on one of two or three choices before Grace (E.G, Catholic Charities for Puerto Rico Relief or Catholic Relief Services or Unicef.) Have some extra $1. bills around for those who forget.). The FIRST TIME anyone forgets to say Please” or “Thank You,” from the beginning of the Meal (after Grace) to end of dinner (i.e. “please pass the potatoes; thank you), he or she gets a WARNING.  The SECOND TIME he or she must surrender their dollar into a basket. Proceeds go to the previously announced charity. At the end of the day, people may contribute the Remaining Dollars or additional $ if they wish to the cause.   

More Details at https://frjamesdiluzio.com/2017/11/18/keeping-thanksgiving-spirit-filled/ 

Lydia Maria Child’s OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS

To Accompany Fr. James DiLuzio Facebook and YouTube videos reciting and singing the same

Over the river and through the wood,

    To grandfather’s house we go;

         The horse knows the way

         To carry the sleigh

    Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood–

    Oh, how the wind does blow!

         It stings the toes

         And bites the nose,

    As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the wood,

    To have first-rate play.

         Hear the bells ring,

         “Ting-a-ling-ding!”

    Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the wood,

    And straight through the barn-yard gate.

         We seem to go

         Extremely slow–

    It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the wood–

    Now grandmother’s cap I spy!

         Hurrah for the fun!

         Is the pudding done?

    Hurrah for the pumpkin-pie!

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

These are variations:

The original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Variations from http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Over_the_River_and_Through_the_Wood

Homily by Father James on the Gospel of Luke 15: 1-10 The Lost Sheep

Daily Scripture Readings may be accessed here: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110520.cfm

Usually when we hear the Parable of the Lost Sheep we think of other people –the relatives and friends who have left the Church, the people in prison for embezzlement, fraud, or violence, or those without any faith.  Today, however, I invite us to see ourselves as Lost Sheep, too, but as people whose faith affirms that Jesus will come and find us.

When we who receive the sacraments hold on to resentments, and brood over injuries—we are Lost Sheep.

When we pass judgment on others especially those who do not vote as we do, think as we do, live as we do—and we want to send them all to hell in a handbasket, we are Lost.

When we are absorbed with “compassion fatigue,” and refuse to hear one more story of anyone or group suffering or victimized, or worse, when we want to blame the victims, we are Lost.

When we despair and believe that nothing good will ever happen again—we are Lost.

Today, we must appreciate faith’s reality that Jesus comes looking for us.  We depend upon Him. We need Him.  For even in our commitment to faith, we delude ourselves that our attitudes are righteous, when, in fact, we are not Christ-like at all.  As we approach the Eucharist today, may we cry out to Jesus: “Here I am Lord. Find me here!” The Good News is Jesus has found us in the past, He is with us now, and he find us again and again and again. For we, the faithful, too, often lose our way. Come, Lord Jesus! Find us here. Inspire us to do your will.