Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

We celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. As the years go by, this focus of this national holiday loses more and more of its Christian origin. We think about the gifts that we are thankful for, but not about the One who pours out those gifts upon us.

What is interesting is that even from a secular point of view, grateful people are healthier and happier people. When I was in the seminary my brother-in-law, who was teaching AP Psychology, told me about the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Seligman determined that when someone recalls three things that he is grateful for each day, reflects on them, and records them in a journal, his overall happiness increases. This is something I encourage you to try for a month or so, especially if you struggle with overwhelming pessimism. Even on our worst days, there are countless things we should be thankful for.

As Christians, we know that gratitude points us to the Creator of all things, the source of all we are thankful for in this life. More than that, He offers us eternal glory beyond this world, for "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:16-17). He is love, and we are created in this love. We are created to receive this love. We are created to give praise and thanksgiving to God for the love that he showers upon us.

So let us make this Thanksgiving a day to give glory to God for all that we have: our life, our faith, our health, our families, our talents, our possessions, our time, and even the crosses meant to sanctify us. Most of all, let us be thankful that we have a God who loves us and leads us with His grace to prepare us for a life with Him in heaven.

Next Sunday, November 28, Advent begins. As always, this Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, is the Solemnity of Christ the King. It also begins a time of preparation for our diocesan church. Bishop Burbidge will celebrate Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on Sunday at 4:00 PM to mark the two years leading up to the 50th Anniversary of our the Diocese of Arlington in November of 2024.

This first year of preparation is devoted to the Most Holy Eucharist, and each parish in the Diocese has been asked to host a 40 Hours Devotion. I was granted permission to hold our 40 Hours that they might end on the feast of our patron, St. Andrew the Apostle. Therefore, our 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration will begin on Sunday, November 28, after the 12:30 PM Mass, and will continue through the closing Mass of St. Andrew the Apostle at 7:00 PM on November 30. Fr. Edward Hathaway will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the closing Mass. He is currently the rector of the Basilica of St. Mary in Old Town Alexandria and who served here as a parochial vicar with Monsignor Hannan and Fr. Fasano. A reception in Hannan Hall will follow the Mass. Please see our flyer for more information about the schedule.

At the Masses this weekend, Fr. Smith will speak about our upcoming Forty Hours devotion. Please join me in thanking Fr. Smith for taking the lead in organizing this glorious time of prayer and celebration for our parish. This weekend there will be a sign-up sheet in the rear vestibule (by the St. Andrew the Apostle statue) for individuals and families to commit to praying before our Eucharistic Lord during the devotion. We would like at least two people present in the church at all times during Eucharistic Adoration. Please be generous knowing that time before the Lord is never wasted, but is instead transforming and the source of peace and charity.

Let us continue to pray for each other as we strive to grow in faith, hope, and charity, building up the Kingdom of God in our homes, at our parish, and beyond!

In Christ,
Fr. Wagner