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Thanksgiving Day: An Excuse for Gluttony and Frivolity?

+J.M.J.+

The fourth Thursday in November has become for many in the Unites States of America a "time-out" for feasting and relaxing. Thanksgiving Day connotes food, football and parades.

As disciples of the Risen Lord Jesus, food, football and parades, in their proper place, are not objectionable and may contribute to lasting friendship and harmony among families and loved ones.

But the true significance of Thanksgiving Day, as most would attest, runs much deeper. We bow our heads to thank our generous God for all He has done for us and for our beloved country. This is the essence of Thanksgiving Day: to acknowledge that our benevolent Creator has bestowed numerous favors on us--His needy children.

Giving thanks to God should be like breathing--it comes naturally. When we note what He has done for us, our only real posture can be one of praise and thanks.

But we confess that sometimes we forget to be grateful. We are pulled in a hundred directions simultaneously. Rendering thanks to God, via prayer and meditation, can seem to be an inconvenience. We may even try to "slough off" prayer by thinking that the Lord could hardly expect us to take time to pray, given our multiple and pressing commitments.

May our compassionate God forgive our negligence, both voluntary and involuntary!

The Lord desires that we be thankful not because He Himself will "benefit" but because it is good for us to be persons of gratitude. We ourselves reap many spiritual riches when we are thankful people who recognize and declare what God--and our neighbors--have done for us.

The virtue of gratitude is composed of two-parts: first, admitting what has been bestowed and, second, trying to make some return for the gift.

Our "return" to God for His blessings is our love, obedience and service. The Lord wishes that we would be moved by His grace to make the necessary changes in our lives so that we may become the disciples of Jesus He calls us to be. This is true gratitude--that lasts through eternity! And it is rooted in the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary that is perpetuated in each Holy Mass.

The familiar prayer--"Grace After Meals"--is surely appropriate on Thanksgiving Day and everyday. It challenges us to be grateful not only for food but also for the other treasures that we derive from the Lord's kind hand.

"We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all the benefits we have received from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

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