Monday, November 13, 2006

Pope's Thanksgiving Day Message

Benedict XVI Extols Custom of Thanking God
Says It Teaches Us Not to Take "Daily Bread" for Granted

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged people to acknowledge the gifts of Providence with concrete gestures of blessing, thanksgiving and solidarity.

The Pope delivered that message today, the annual Day of Thanksgiving in Italy, in an address to the crowds gathered for the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

The Holy Father mentioned that in families, "little ones" are taught "to thank the Lord always before eating, with a brief prayer and the sign of the cross."

"This custom must be kept or rediscovered, because it teaches [us] not to take our 'daily bread' for granted but to recognize in it a gift of Providence," he said.

"We should get into the habit of blessing the Creator for each thing: for air and water, precious elements which are the foundation of life on our planet," the Pontiff added, "as well as for food that, through the fecundity of the earth, God gives us for our sustenance." Benedict XVI expressed special concern for "the scandal of hunger," which afflicts more than 800 million people in the world, and which destroys so many lives, especially of children.

The widow After praying the Angelus, and despite the rainy morning, the Pontiff greeted the numerous pilgrims present in several languages.

He mentioned the Gospel passage of the day's liturgy, which recounts the humble offering of the widow's mite. The widow's generosity "is an inspiration to all of us to give ourselves totally to Christ," said Benedict XVI to the English-speaking pilgrims.

In French, the Pope encouraged pilgrims to give of their time and of themselves, and not just of the superfluous, so that "the Kingdom of God will grow in the midst of men."

In Spanish, he suggested, "contemplating the example of the poor widow of today's Gospel, that we make our lives a pleasing offering to God, so that -- giving ourselves to him without reservations, like the Virgin Mary, he will fill us with the richness of his love and grace."

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