Giving thanks to God for all His immense blessings, including the many good fruits we receive daily from His bounty, is a fundamental human need. We do this immediately on waking in our Morning Offering: “… I thank You for having created me, called me into Your Church, and preserved me during the night past”; and again in our night prayers. During the day we should often turn to the Lord and thank Him for His gifts, big and small. Even our sorrows and disappointments can be made “holy” if we thank God for them, accepting them in humility, for in this way we grow both in faith and charity.
The American celebration of Thanksgiving Day, when families unite to feast and pray together, is a wonderful way of remembering the multiple things we have to thank God for in our lives. It demonstrates a childlike gratitude to Our Loving Father in Heaven from Whom all blessings flow. What a shame we do not share this feast day either here in Europe or on other continents!
“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? ” – (Luke, 17:15-17)
Indeed, gratitude is a virtue that our human nature often leaves by the wayside. I don’t know if we so much mean to be ungrateful, as that we easily take for granted what is given us, and so, forget the source–especially in a moment of joy. At times we can also have unrealistic expectations and thus fail to recognise the gift.
So, for a country to have made the giving of thanks a national holiday, and thus, so to speak, institutionalised gratitude, is indeed a great thing, and excellent thing, a thing that can’t fail to please God, the giver of all good things.
While many countries have some form of thanksgiving on their national calendars, Thanksgiving Day is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.
In Canada, the origin of the celebration has roots in English harvest festivals and, actually, precedes the origin of the American feast.
In the US, Thanksgiving dates back to the first colonists in Plymouth, M.A. in 1621, who organised a feast in thanks for a good harvest.
After that first gathering, religious and civil leaders offered various forms of thanksgiving through the years, but it was George Washington, while president of the United States, who proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving-Day on November 26, 1789.
He established the holiday “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
An attitude of gratitude moves the heart of God, as it moves the heart of anyone who is the object of sincere thanks.
Indeed, who knows but that the many and great blessings of our country are derived from that first attitude of grateful prayer of our first president?
In his marvellous little book, The Way of Trust and Love, Fr. Jacques Philippe, contemporary spiritual master, calls the virtue of gratitude “one of the secrets of the spiritual life that is also one of the laws of happiness.”
Expounding on the mysterious Gospel passage, “for to him who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 13:12),” Fr. Philippe elucidates that if we recognise and are grateful for all the good things we have received in life, we will receive even more. But if we choose to camp out in the barren land of resentment and discontent, we will receive less and less.
This is a law written into nature. Indeed, a life lived with trust and gratitude shines, even in difficult moments. A life steeped in bitterness and resentment is miserable even amidst the greatest ease.
St. Paul invites us to “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He also adds with force, “And be thankful!” (Colossians 3:15)
In the sight of God we are all lepers, our souls filled with sinful sores. As a nation, despite our great qualities, and our brave generosity, we have sinned grossly and continue to do so. Suffice it to mention the holocaust of abortion.
Yet God Our Lord makes His magnificent sun rise on us each day, and warms our lives, and grows our food and shines on our journey, ever inviting us back to Him.
[Source: based on a post from ‘America Needs Fatima‘]
May we resolve to be the leper that not only comes to Him for forgiveness and healing, but who does not forget to return and give heartfelt thanks – always.