'Come ye thankful people ...'
Thankfulness is not a passing moment in a Christian's life but needs to be an attitude of our daily living. At this time of year in many parts of our Archdiocese there will be harvest festivals in our churches and our schools as we express thanks for the harvest of the earth – and recognise that we should never take it for granted.
Even when it comes to us pre-packed or tinned, the food we enjoy has its roots in the earth which is tilled and cared for by human ingenuity and skill – it is quite literally 'fruit of the earth and the work of human hands'. So when we keep the harvest festival and when we respond to CAFOD's call to a fast day, this is not just thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth and the sea, but also gratitude for those who work so hard on the earth and sea to bring home to us these good things.
Mindful also of the exploitation both of natural resources and indeed of human labour, we work and pray for justice and for wisdom in our daily choices and our taking care of the earth.
On the Isle of Man there is a lovely evening hymn which, while sung throughout the year, is particularly suited to this time of the Harvest Thanksgiving:
We thank Thee, Lord, for sunshine, dew and rain,
Broadcast from Heav'n by Thine almighty hand
Source of all life, unnumbered as the sand –
Bird, beast and fish, herb, fruit and golden grain.
O Bread of Life, Thou in Thy word hast said,
Who feeds in faith on Me shall never die!
In mercy hear Thy hungry children's cry,
Father, give us this day our daily bread!
Sow in our hearts the seeds of Thy dear love,
That we may reap contentment, joy and peace;
Then, when at last our earthly labours cease,
Grant us to join Thy harvest home above.