Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
“As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us reflect upon the many blessings in our lives. For Americans, Thanksgiving Day is a special day when we celebrate family unity. In fact, families get tighter on Thanksgiving more often than on any other holiday, including Christmas.
But besides the traditional family get-together and the big meal, there is also the religious meaning of the holiday that has been present since its origins. According to tradition, the pilgrims celebrated the first meal of thanksgiving in 1621 together with a group of native Americans to give thanks to God for the abundance of the harvests in the new world. In 1789 President George Washington recognized an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” Later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated specifically on the last Thursday of November.
Today, we celebrate Thanksgiving not only as a national holiday but also as a day symbolic for Catholics. After all, the word Eucharist comes from the Greek word, eukaristein, which means thanksgiving.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life” (#222). Then it adds that this includes “living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: ‘What have you that you did not receive?’ (1 Cor 4:7) ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me? (Ps 116:12)’”(#224)
Although Thanksgiving is not a strictly religious holiday, nevertheless because a Eucharistic celebration is most appropriate the US Bishops encourage US Catholics to celebrate it with readings taken from the Mass “In Thanksgiving to God” found in the Lectionary for Ritual Masses.
Thanksgiving should not only be celebrated with a deep sense of prayer, gratitude and joy, but the celebration this day should lead us to remember that our lives are a continual thanksgiving through our daily activities, all of which should give glory to God, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist.
Jesus himself offers us a model of gratitude to God for all the gifts that God has bestowed on us. He models an attitude of thankfulness and praise both in his prayers and in his actions by accepting whatever comes from God – even suffering – trusting that God has given it out of loving care and not anger.” (Thanksgiving–Celebrating All God’s Gifts. All Saints Press)
Mass will be celebrated at 8:00am on Thanksgiving morning. We invite you to bring the bread that you will have with your meal and I will bless them at the end of Mass.
May God’s blessing be with you and your family this Thanksgiving,