Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
While it’s a “secular” holiday, in so many ways it is truly a religious day.
To whom do we give thanks? The answer is to the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for all that we are, for all that we have, all that we have received.
It is important to recognize that we are the recipients of so many of God’s gifts. Thanksgiving Day provides us an opportunity to reflect on these gifts and, most importantly, on the Giver.
In its origins, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated by the Pilgrims to give thanks to God for their safe arrival and for the bounty that they received, including from the Native Americans who shared with them.
It was formally proclaimed a holiday by Abraham Lincoln. Even in the midst of the terrible War Between the States, he recognized our need and our duty to give thanks to a loving and gracious God. The 1863 proclamation offered thanks for “the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
For many of us this year, there has been much suffering. Certainly the destruction resulting from Hurricane Sandy may raise the question among some, “What is there to be thankful for?”
There is, and there continues to be, so very much.
We’re thankful for the gift of life. We’re thankful for all those who respond to our need, who come to the assistance of our beleaguered communities. We are thankful that God continues to watch over us as He inspired so many to be generous towards us.
It has become an admirable custom for many Catholics to participate in the celebration of Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day. For Catholics, Eucharist remains at the heart of our Thanksgiving prayer
It is so fitting that we celebrate our thanks in the ultimate thanksgiving prayer, the celebration of Eucharist, the rewards of this great gift we have received, through the suffering, dying and resurrection of Jesus, the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bishop Joseph Galante
Diocese of Camden