Ordinary Time is coming to end as we prepare for the great Solemnity of Christ the King next week which is the final Sunday of the Church Year. The Season of Advent starts soon. It’s hard to believe that the Church’s liturgical year iscoming to end so soon!
Of course, if you turn on a radio or TV you hear all the Christmas music and see Christmas advertisements! If you go to the mall or the local CVS, you’ll see the Christmas displays! It started immediately after Halloween and in some cases before Halloween!
For me it is a truly a ridiculous over commercialization of a sacred season. This Thursday wecelebrate that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving Day! Much of the retail world have seemingly forgotten this holiday. But on Thursday millions of Americans gather around their table to share a meal and give thanks to Almighty God for their blessings and bounty.
Thanksgiving Day is truly about preparing a special meal and then sharing it with family and friends. This also included attending high school football games, watching the NFL and even tossing the football around in the backyard. Every family no matter how large or small, no matter how rich or poor, nomatter what color or creed stops on Thanksgiving to give thanks to God!
Now for some people it as just a chance to get away on vacation or a time to spend night preparing for the big sales at the stores. They then rush to the malls to fight the crowds and buy things nobody really needs and usually don’t appreciate.
Having spent five Thanksgivings living in Belgium while in the seminary, I grew very fond of the holiday. For the Belgians it was just another Thursday and meant nothing! We classes were held and there were no football games! We had to get our turkeys and pies from the local U.S. military base. And our Thanksgiving meal was far from home and our family.
Having celebrated Thanksgiving so far away, I grew to cherish it’s uniquely American traditions. I have a priest friend who maintains that Thanksgiving is not only a uniquely American holiday but also a very Protestant one. He tells me that’s why many people do not come to Mass on Thanksgiving Day. I not sure that’s the real reason but history does tell us that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims in 1621.
We also know that the Puritan pilgrims were very anti-Catholic. They had left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. The Puritans were strict Calvinists who opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns as too “Papist”!
Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, was a Catholic! He had been enslaved by the English but was freed by Spanish Franciscan Friars. Squanto was then baptized and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving Day. So perhaps it is a Catholic holiday!
So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinists who fled England, we Catholics might remember that the same unjust laws they fled also granted the crown of martyrdom to St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion, and many other Catholic martyrs.
Also remember that the Greek word “Eucharistia” means “Thanksgiving.” Thus, Holy Mass is the true “Thanksgiving Meal.” So begin your Thanksgiving Day this year by joining us on Thursday at 9:00am Mass. We gather together as a parish family to truly give our Heavenly Father thanks and gratitude for our many blessings. Our OLM Choir is singing with praise to our good and gracious God. Also Dominican Friar, Father John Sica, OP from Providence College is preaching the Mass. Join us as we give thanks to God in the best possible way, at Mass!
And on Thanksgiving Day before you happily share your meal, don’t forget to raise your glass and recall the words of the great Catholic author, Hilaire Belloc: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino! Let us Bless the Lord!”
Fr. Barrow, Deacon Dowd and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Know of our prayers for your safe travel. Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!