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Give thanks for God’s blessings

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We give thanks and praise to God, source of all good things, for the many blessings He pours out upon us. As we look forward soon to the celebration of our national holiday of Thanksgiving, we should remember that God gives us so much, not only for our own good, but also for the good of all. How can we extend the blessings He has given us to be good for others?

I am sure we are all concerned by the economic conditions this year. But, here in Iowa, despite the hardships of the summer flooding and the housing slump, the agricultural sector remains strong, with good harvests and good prices for them. Even the price of gas has become reasonable again. We give thanks to God for these gifts. But we must be aware that many people, both here in our midst and throughout the country, are facing great difficulty in these days.

Poverty comes in many forms. Material poverty is perhaps the most obvious, the kind we think of first when we hear the word “poverty.” But material poverty, harsh as it can be, pales in comparison to moral and spiritual poverties. Too often we ignore these less obvious kinds of poverty, even here in our own communities. So I have been heartened this fall by signs of our spiritual solidarity with the poor, such as the 40 Days for Life efforts just concluded, or the graces and enthusiasm of our newly confirmed youth to challenge evil and to change the world.

I ask and encourage you to continue your great efforts of prayer and fasting, of charity and service. These acts in the face of poverty of all kinds show forth the transforming love of our Lord Jesus Christ. “But God proves his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, He died for us” (Rom 5:8). So must we love the poor. We must not ignore or marginalize them, but embrace them in body by our generosity and solidarity with them, and in spirit by our tireless prayers for them.

I particularly ask your support for the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, to be taken up this year at all Masses for the Feast of Christ the King, November 22 and 23. CCHD is an arm of the Church in this country, to help reduce poverty of all kinds by local action. Its resources come entirely from the generosity of the faithful, whose most potent contribution is prayer. Please pray for all those who, trapped in sin, cannot escape their moral and spiritual poverty. Please pray for those who, defeated by hardship or injustice, cannot escape their physical poverty. Materially, please consider whether you might be able to offer a day’s wage, or even an hour’s wage, in solidarity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember that 25% of your donation remains in our own Diocese, to be used especially for the needs of the poor among our Hispanic and Vietnamese Catholic communities.

Anticipating the Feast of Christ the King, looking ahead to Thanksgiving, Advent, and the joyful birth of our Lord, let us give heartfelt thanks to God for his boundless generosity and mercy to us. Let us recommit ourselves to be formed by Him, in and through His Church, His body and spotless bride, so that we may be useful in His mission of converting hearts and saving souls. May God continue to bless us so abundantly, shelter us from evil, and guide us home to eternal joy in His presence.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

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