Watch the discussion between Mary Rose and Father Illo on this blog.
Today is Gratitude Day. It is the feast of Corpus Christi, the celebration of “Thanksgiving,” the solemnity of the Holy Eucharist, a Greek word that means “thanksgiving” and a divine liturgy that expresses man’s supreme act of gratitude to our Creator and Savior. In the traditional form of the Mass, which I offered this morning, the priest prays these words from Psalm 116: Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? (“What will I give to the Lord in return for all that He has given to me?”). And the answer is: gratitude. Just thank Him. Learn to say “thank you” to others, and especially to the Father from whom all blessings flow. Carl Trueman wrote a stirring article about gratitude today, perhaps not knowing that it would be posted on the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, the Catholic Feast of Gratitude.

We had planned a Eucharistic procession tonight that will take the Eucharist into the streets. After the morning Mass, however, the sacristan told me that our sidewalks are spotted with rotting piles of human feces. I went out to have a look, and what I saw made me angry. I marched up to the vagrants sprawled out in the nearby public parking lot. “Did you crap on my sidewalk?” I demanded of a mild-mannered man. “Not me,” he said sheepishly. I’m fairly sure he was either lying or mentally unaware. A masked man in a beat-up pickup, which had “City Street Cleaners” painted on the side, was sweeping up the garbage around the vagrants. I marched up to him: Do you get paid to clean the streets?” I demanded. “Yes,” he replied sheepishly. “There are several piles of human feces on the sidewalk on which our schoolchildren have to walk every day to school. The parents complain. We all complain, but the city does nothing. Can you clean it up?”

He said he could and went over to scoop the poop. I was angry at the vagrants, angry at the street cleaner, and most of all angry at wealthy San Francisco politicians who have made our city a “socialist paradise.” But I remembered, at the last minute, to thank the poor Filipino man in his beat-up pickup truck who is getting paid $35 an hour to clean up the mess.

It’s easy to be angry at the obtuseness, the greed, and the irrationality of those who currently rule our culture. It’s easy to be angry at God, actually. But today is a day to look up, not down. To look up at the sky, the clouds, the trees, the sun and the moon and the stars; to look up as the priest lifts high the Holy Eucharist, which will bring us to the highest heavens. “Give thanks in all circumstances,” the Apostle Paul urges us.

Thank you, Lord, for the poor Filipino man with the mask in his old pickup, thank you for the vagrant man in the parking lot, thank you for my school, and my friends and my brother priests, and for the Mass I just celebrated. “What return shall I make to God who has given everything to me?” Certainly not anger or resentment. I will thank the Good God; I will try to thank the Good God, for everything that he has given to me!

From the May 30 episode of Father Illo blogs

Watch the discussion between Mary Rose and Father Illo on this blog.