Isn’t it ironic that as some leaders in our country are doing all they can to eliminate God from our national discourse that our national holiday Thanksgiving Day is officially set aside as a day to give God thanks. The familiar traditions that surround the origins of Thanksgiving Day when the native Americans and the settlers of the Plymouth colony came together indicate that gratitude to God was the focus of that first thanksgiving feast. Gratitude to God expressed by those two very different peoples sharing with one another at the same table.
In our diocese this type of gratitude to God is visible in the many parishes where food has been collected and bountiful baskets prepared to give to those who need them. What a powerful example of gratitude to God these hundreds of volunteers in our parishes and institutions give us. They go about asking for donations of food and organizing the preparation and distribution of it which is hard work but done as a labor of love.
Permit me to express gratitude to those who staff the parish pantries and to those who generously make donations. Yours is the charity of Christ. I am told by many of these volunteers that when they place a bag of food in the hands of those who receive the charity of the pantry, the response they hear is “God bless you.” That blessing is an expression of gratitude to God whom the poor would never think to eliminate from their discourse.
Thanksgiving Day brings families together for a festive meal and to enjoy one another’s company and love. At those family tables a prayer of gratitude to God is raised. Good families have not eliminated God from their discourse. Many of our parishes in connection with the national holiday bring together their parishioners around the table of The Lord at Mass to give God thanks according to the tradition of our church. In some towns and communities in our diocese inter-faith celebrations are sponsored. People of our Catholic faith and people of all faiths know that God cannot be eliminated from our national discourse.
Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday. And, when you give God thanks on Thanksgiving Day, know that you are keeping God present in our national discourse.
Bishop Dennis Sullivan’s message is published in the Nov. 22 Catholic Star Herald.