“Thanksgiving” in the words of Holy Scripture, American History,

 

“Thanksgiving”

in the words of Holy Scripture, American History,

God the Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady of Emmitsburg:

(Compiled by Michael T. Sullivan, MD)

 

When we think of November, many images come to mind--some very gloomy and dreary.  Very early in the month we are faced with the thought of the Suffering Souls in Purgatory—first, in that there is a Purgatory, that it is a place of great suffering, and that most souls do go there before they are ready for Heaven.  The World Series is now over.  The beautiful leaves have fallen off the trees; and in much of the country, the barren trees will look dead. The snow has not yet brought beauty to the landscape.   The political rhetoric is heating up on cable TV—24 hours a day—filled with much slander and detraction.  The world situation becomes more sobering and somber almost daily, with the threat of terror and world war a reality.  The secularization of the Holiday Season begins again, and most probably many atheistic activists will again aggressively wage their campaigns to take Christ, the Son of God, out of Christmas—or should I say the "Holiday Season."  Science continues to move forward in its quest to conquer and control life without or in spite of God, even though one of the Holy Father's special intentions is Respect for Life. Throughout November, several of St. Luke's Gospel readings from the daily and Sunday Masses deal with many of the "end times" themes, and current world events would have to make us wonder.

 

Then, almost paradoxically sitting each year at the end of the month of November, this year on the Thursday after the Solemnity Feast of Christ the King, all the people in the United States of America celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  As many of you know, this day springs from a thanksgiving holiday first celebrated in the fall of 1621 by the first "Pilgrims" who had landed at Plymouth Rock the previous year, in what is now Massachusetts, after fleeing from the religious persecution in England.  That first year, they made friends with the local Iroquois Indians, who taught them how to grow their own crops, to hunt, and to fish; and when their first crop was bountifully harvested, they invited their Indian friends to join them for that first feast of thanksgiving to Almighty God for His goodness, grace and bountiful provision. 

 

This custom of Thanksgiving Day spread throughout the English colonies up until the Revolutionary War in 1776.  Then in 1789, President George Washington issued the following proclamation:

 

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His Will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their Joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of these United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, and that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country.…. "

 

Would that this be the situation in our country today!

 

Then in November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as "A day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father."  

 

The Thanksgiving Day tradition has certainly grown over the last nearly 400 years.  It is now the most traveled holiday weekend in our country, with literally millions taking to the roads and airways.  It is a time of family reunions and gatherings (as well as the stress of family reunions and gatherings).  There are large feasts of food and drink involving much work and preparation, and many groans of "I wish I wouldn't have eaten so much"; as well as many major live television sporting events and entertainment specials, and the start of the Holiday shopping season.

 

But the important question is "What has Thanksgiving Day become for each of us, for you and for me?" Is it still a day of thanksgiving and prayer that those early Pilgrims and Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln intended?

 

Over the years, Our Lady of Emmitsburg has said to the world through Gianna:

 

"Jesus is your Savior.  I go before Him and humbly bow my head in praise and thanksgiving for His Love and Mercy.  Without His Love, life would cease to exist.” (OLOE, Mar.19, 1998)  “Rejoice in Jesus, little ones, for He bore the weight of sin in the world in order to free you from eternal death.  Therefore sing praises of thanksgiving to Him and be obedient to His Word.”  (OLOE, Mar. 11, 1999)  “Ask of Jesus what you desire, but first thank Him with all of your hearts.  Without Him you would not have life, and there would not be any hope.  I take your petitions to Him in thanksgiving.” (OLOE, Sept. 16, 1999)  Songs of praise and thanksgiving will bring about the destruction of sin.  As sin is destroyed, each of you is renewed, just as a newborn child, totally dependent, innocent and pure."  (OLOE, Feb. 25, 2004)

 

We live today in a world, in a nation, in communities, in families, in  homes, and even in a Church that may often seem to be void of peace and unity.  In His last of some 250 Lessons dictated between September, 1988 and November, 1995, Our Lord said to Gianna in referring to all His people:

 

"I am not asking My people to give Me all of their undivided attention.  I am asking them to return back to God and to give even a little of their time in prayer and thanksgiving to My Father for all the wonders He gives to all people continuously and unconditionally.  If all My people would pray daily, even for a small amount of time, there would be peace and unity."  (JOM, Nov. 11, 1995)

 

Thanksgiving Day is not a holy day of obligation, but without that prayer of thanksgiving to the Eternal Father, to Our Lord and Savior, and to the Holy Spirit of God, all of our modern-day traditions seem somewhat empty and absurd.  To another alleged American mystic in the early 1990's Our Lord is reported to have said in speaking of these United States, that there is no nation in the history of the world to which I have given so much, and which has given Me so little in return.  Looking around the world and at our nation, do you think this could be true?

 

For how many of us has Thanksgiving Day deteriorated into something other than that which it was intended?  Does God find His place in only a brief prayer of thanksgiving before meals, if even that?  Would it be politically incorrect in our Thanksgiving Day plans to invite those attending to join us at Mass before our big feast?  Would it be embarrassing to inform those attending that a family Rosary was going to be said at such and such time, either before or after the meal or even at halftime of the football game, allowing those who choose not to participate to courteously decline?  Would we be stoned if we asked the youth to watch the "Song of Bernadette" or "The Fatima Story" or some other film with an orthodox Christian spiritual theme before they were allowed to pursue their video games, Hannah Montana, TV sports contests or the internet?  Would it be considered "out of line" if we were to share ahead of time these remarks that I am giving today with those coming to our Thanksgiving Day celebration---not because they are my words, but because you believe they express the sentiments of God the Father, Our Lord & Our Lady of Emmitsburg as well as the intentions of our Founding Fathers?  Do you even believe that?

 

In the Words of God the Father from January 8, 2006, on the Feast of the Epiphany, the Heavenly Father spoke quite firmly:

 

"You, children of humanity, know not the day, the hour nor the time, not the place nor the event.  Perhaps then, it is time for you to amend your lives and to be enlightened, as if today was your last.  Perhaps, it is time for you to love, as if today was your last opportunity to love; and perhaps it is time for you to be grateful, as if today was your last chance to give praise and thanksgiving to Me for your life." (GTF, Jan. 8, 2006)

 

John Paul II begins his encyclical on the Eucharist with the words, "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist."  We are the Church!  He goes on to remind us that the Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is "the source and summit of Christian life".  In that Eucharistic Sacrifice, Jesus is both High Priest and victim.  Is it not interesting that the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek word "eucharistia," which means "thanksgiving." Thanksgiving is the Eucharist!   

 

On this Thanksgiving Day, November 26, in the Opening Prayer at in today’s Mass we pray :

 

“Father, all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite.  On Thanksgiving Day we come before you with gratitude for your kindness. Open our hearts to concern for our fellow men and women, so that we may share your gifts in loving service.  We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

 

 

So let us prayerfully consider and ask Our Lady to inspire each of us today  how we can make this Thanksgiving Day a "holy" day.  Let us do this month as St. Paul urged us in his 1st Letter to the Thessalonians, "Be joyful always; pray continuously; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's Will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes 5:16-18) 

 

And today, let us invite the entire Heavenly Court, all the celestial choirs of Angels and all the Saints, to join us and Our Lady, in our churches and in our homes, as we prepare to make this Thanksgiving Day a truly "holy" celebration of praise and thankfulness, as we joyfully reach out beyond what may be our comfort zone, to truly include Our Lord and His Mother in our special day of thanksgiving---our day of "eucharistia". And let us begin by offering this day “All for the honor and great glory of God!”

 

 

  (Modified from the Opening Remarks,

Public Marian Prayer Group, near Emmitsburg, MD, Nov. 4. 2007 )