Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks with a Catholic Flavor

Today, Americans gather to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. For many, the day holds long-revered traditions. Perhaps it wouldn’t be complete without Grandma’s special pastries, or Aunt Mary’s cranberry sauce. Many a hostess will shop, plan, and labor to ensure that dinner is perfectly cooked and ready on time. Many a father, grandfather, or uncle may be eagerly waiting to watch some football. Many a child may anticipate indulging in sweet things. Whatever the individual traditions, many of us look forward to a joyful day celebrating the abundance of our blessings.

As with any holiday, it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle, bustle, obligations, and expectations of it all that we can lose sight of why we celebrate in the first place. So what if the turkey isn’t ready to go on a magazine cover, or if the pie crusts got a little dark? If you have bounty enough to eat a thanksgiving feast, you are wealthier than many in this world. And if you have a family with which to gather and celebrate, in an era of family brokenness and division, you are blessed.

Or perhaps we’re feeling a bit less grateful this year, what with the state of our economy, growing international unrest, and the strain it has all put on many American pocketbooks. St. Paul has a word for us there, however: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Thess. 5:18, emphasis added)

Times considered less than ideally prosperous are the ideal time to re-notice and better appreciate the most important blessings in our lives – those that make us truly wealthy. Even if your thanksgiving meal is less than ideally bountiful, or your family can’t unite due to distance or division, there are still fundamental gifts for which to be grateful: Life. Love. Freedom. Beauty. Senses through which to experience the world. And most of all, the gift of Jesus Himself, brought to us through His Church.

The Greek word for “Thanksgiving” is Eucharistia. That’s right: the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord, is the ultimate “Thanksgiving Meal”. What better way to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day? The turkey bakes for hours anyway, and few cooks remain peaceful spending all day in the kitchen. Take an hour to leave the hustle and bustle as the invited guest of this heavenly banquet hosted by the Giver of Life. And see how much richer this “holy day” can be!

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1 comment:

Clare Marie-Therese Duroc said...

Claire, you should reprint on A Maiden's Wreath. :)