From the Pastor:
As you know, this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, one of the most popular holidays of the year. The “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621 after their first harvest. There were 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans celebrating together. They had much for which to be thankful, including surviving disease and starvation from the preceding winter.
Our current tradition of Thanksgiving in November can be traced back to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It was only months before that the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought at Gettysburg. About 8,000 soldiers were killed during three days of battle and over 27,000 more were wounded, many of whom would later die from their injuries. The Civil War had been raging for over two years at that point, and Lincoln decided the nation needed something to boost morale.
Lincoln’s solution was unconventional! He proclaimed a national day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” The decision was remarkable – to have the citizens acknowledge their blessings as they what had been lost. Lincoln directed the nation’s citizens to see the reasons they had to be grateful and then to thank God for them. If we really look at things objectively, there is far more for us to be grateful for than there is for us to be sad about. We sometimes get caught in one of Satan’s traps – focusing on the negative.
Giving thanks is at the heart of being Catholic since “eucharist” literally means “to give thanks”. During the Mass, we recall Jesus' own thanksgiving – “on the day before Jesus was to suffer…with eyes raised to heaven, to you, O God, His almighty Father, giving you thanks." It is profoundly humbling and inspiring when we reflect upon Jesus, before knowingly entering into the greatest suffering of all of human history, stopping to give thanks to the Father in heaven.
This is what you and I are to imitate. We look for the reasons to be grateful and then give thanks every moment of our life. Being grateful is a choice and a mindset. It is an attitude that we have to decide to live. Again, in the preface prayers at Mass, the priests say: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give You thanks, Father most holy, through Your son Jesus Christ…” Being grateful to God is our duty and necessary for salvation!
I’ll be praying this week that you have a relaxing and peaceful Thanksgiving. Please consider attending Mass Thursday morning to give thanks to God for the many blessings you have received this past year. Between our three parishes, you have three different options for attending.
Fr. John Miller