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Today is the great American holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s not a religious holiday, and yet it is religious. It is a day to thank God for all the blessings he has given us. Since all religions, I think, thank God in some way and since we have many religions in the United States living side by side, this is a perfect American holiday. One that we can all share.
But we Catholics know gratitude to the Lord in a special way. Every Mass as part of the Eucharistic Prayer (part of the consecration of the bread and wine) we offer God our thanks. This exchange which leads to the Eucharistic Prayer should be familiar to Catholics.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.
The bold is my emphasis to highlight the formal gratitude to the Lord. And then the priest goes into one of several Eucharistic Prayer choices, but each at the beginning recapitulates the words of the rightness and justness of being thankful. I’ll just quote the opening of Eucharistic Prayer II, again my emphasis:
“It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, your Word through whom you made all things, whom you sent as our Savior and Redeemer, incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin. Fulfilling your will and gaining for you a holy people, he stretched out his hands as he endured his Passion, so as to break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection…”
It goes on, but part of our liturgical prayer is a formal thanksgiving to the Father most holy. As a liturgy, it is repeated as a sacred rite.
And so in our “liturgical” calendar as Americans, we have this day to give thanks for all our blessings, personal and national, to the creator God of our understanding. This is what you should take away from this. It is right and just and our duty to give thanks. It is the sacred rite we come to every year, repeated with friends and family gathered together at our table of blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving.Published in