Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

11/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The people who believe that America is a bad country, for all practical purposes, are now in control of its government. And they are causing greater harm to the American people than our worst enemies through their corrupt and immoral policies and their abusive use of the state's police power.

Through the intercession of our nation's saints, we pray for the protection and well being of America. This is God's country. Let us give God the thanks He is due this Thanksgiving Day, and everyday, by living as His true children. May God bless America!

My first Thanksgiving Day celebration

My first Thanksgiving Day celebration

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Thanksgiving Day, Holiday, America, United States, Christianity, Catholicism, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - The faded photograph I have used for this article was taken by my mother and father on my first Thanksgiving Day about 60 years ago. It reminds me of their wonderful sense of humor, their deep faith and their goodness. It also reminds me of two earlier Thanksgiving Day celebrations and how much our country has changed over the years.

The "First Thanksgiving Day" was celebrated by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in the early 1600's. Although they were accustomed to thanksgiving celebrations (days of prayer), the specific purpose of the "First Thanksgiving Day" was to thank God for helping them survive their first New England winter. However, the first time Thanksgiving Day was celebrated as a national holiday was about 240 years later when President Abraham Lincoln gave it official recognition in 1863.

During his proclamation address Lincoln said, "It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gracious gifts of the Most High God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

So much has changed since then. Today, some people want to suppress the religious significance associated with Thanksgiving Day, and the role of religion in our society. In addition, some people want to suppress the truth about America's goodness. We see evidence of this in the media and in many schools where our children are being taught that America is a bad country. But this Thanksgiving my thoughts are about the goodness that made this country great.

It is right for us to admit our failures, but much of the criticism toward America is exaggerated or untrue. While Americans have made mistakes and done some things that were wrong, America has been a powerful force for good within its borders and throughout the world since its inception. There are many examples. I will mention a few that have special meaning for me.

The Founding Fathers of our country have had their reputations and accomplishments dragged through the mud in recent years; however, I believe they gave us a system of government that unleashed freedom upon the citizens of this nation unlike anything ever done before. And this system was grounded in an accurate understanding of human nature. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) "Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude" (#1731).

This unique system was "cemented" in the Constitution of the United States. Although not perfect, I believe that our Constitution is the greatest political document ever written. But even greater than our system of government is the American understanding that the rights of the people are of divine origin, that is, from God not man. We read in the Declaration of Independence ". . .  that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

This accomplishment, which took centuries to achieve, was great because it reflected a fundamental truth about human society. The Catechism says, "There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves. . . " (#1878). We need society. It is a function of our nature as human persons. We develop our potential through social exchange, dialogue and service with each other.

However, socialization can threaten personal freedom and initiative due to excessive intervention by the state. The principle of subsidiarity says that ". . . a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it. . ." (CCC #1883). Even though limited and imperfect, the separation of powers within our federal government depicted in our Constitution and the autonomy of the states are an amazing application of the principle of subsidiarity.

America has also extended its goodness around the world in ways unlike any other country. There are many outstanding examples of American goodwill toward its international neighbors. For instance, America has given an unprecedented amount of aid to over 100 countries in the world. This aid has been in the form of technical, material and financial assistance. By far, most of America's financial assistance has been in the form of outright gifts. America has even shown incomparable Christian goodwill to its former enemies.

After World War II, Germany and Japan were reduced to rubble. We helped them institute democratic governments and sweeping social and economic reforms. For instance, in Japan under General MacArthur's leadership, the status of the emperor's divine origin was rejected, and civil liberties similar to our own were granted to the people. Today, both Germany and Japan are free and sovereign. They are also world powers and respected members of the international community.

As an American Catholic, I am proud that Catholics have been an important part of this great nation from its beginning. The colonization of America followed its discovery by a Catholic, Christopher Columbus, whose expedition was financed by Catholic Spain. Then came the Spanish missionaries. However, it was European Protestants who colonized and forged the original thirteen colonies into one nation. But two Catholics, Daniel Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimmons, were members of the Continental Congress and helped frame our Constitution.

Catholics also contributed to America by establishing schools and promoting first rate education. Saint John Neumann is especially noted for this. He is the first Bishop to organize a Catholic school system in this country. He is credited with building approximately 100 schools throughout the Diocese of Philadelphia. Catholics have also built the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the country. And Catholic Charities is one of the largest and most trusted nonprofit providers of social services in America.

In the early days, Catholics only constituted a small percentage of the population. Our population increased through the acquisition of territories from Catholic Spain, Mexico and France. Then there was an explosion of growth in the 19th and 20th centuries due to the immigration of German, Irish and Hispanic Catholics. Today, Catholics are the largest single religious denomination in the country, almost 22 percent of the population, and America has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world. And Catholics occupy leadership positions in just about every field of endeavor imaginable.

Plus we have a growing list of American saints: Frances Xavier Cabrini, Jean de Lalande, Damien De Veuster, Katharine Drexel, Rose Philippine Duchesne, René Goupil, Mother Théodore Guérin, Isaac Jogues, John Neumann, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. However, given the negative changes that are occurring in our country today, I suspect that Catholics' greatest role in American life is yet to come.

The people who believe that America is a bad country, for all practical purposes, are now in control of its government. And they are causing greater harm to the American people than our worst enemies through their corrupt and immoral policies and their abusive use of the state's police power. Consequently, America is no longer the land of the free, and the American people no longer live in peace.

Thanks to people like the Pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln, and my mother and father, I believe the America I was born into is worth fighting and dying for. But how do we do that? There is no one answer, but as Catholics we believe where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20), and this is where we can start.

Catholicism is graced with an abundance of truth. For instance, it sees order, beauty, goodness, meaning, and purpose in creation. It sees all these things, and more, rooted in an all-powerful, all-good, all-loving God. It also sees a glorious destiny for the children of God, which begins in this life when we are united with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Catholics can offer these truths to our nation and help move America toward greater justice and blessings now and in the years to come.

Through the intercession of our nation's saints, we pray for the protection and well being of America. This is God's country.  Let us give Him the thanks He is due this day, and everyday, by living as His true children. May God bless America!

 -----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More U.S.

The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


The Gender Identity Executive Order of President Obama is a Trojan Horse

Image of Most of us are familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse used by Greek soldiers to take the City of Troy. After a multi-year, unsuccessful effort to take the City, the Greeks pretended to retreat. However, Greek soldiers had left behind a large wooden horse. The Trojans found what they thought were spoils of battle, a large wooden horse. They decided to pull it into the City as a trophy of their victory. Hidden inside were an elite group of soldiers. As soon as the crowds gathered to celebrate the victory, they came out of the horse and destroyed the City from the inside.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

To equate how one engages in sexual activities with a member of the same sex - or whether one has sexual attraction to a member of the same sex - with a properly protected status such as race, creed, gender or national origin, in the enforcement of federal ... continue reading


America's best hope for 2016 is an old face: Republican's need Romney to run Watch

Image of While Mitt Romney has not said he will run for president in 2016, those close to him suggest that he will, and he is confident that he can win.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Republican party is doing a great deal of soul searching ahead of the 2016 presidential election season. It's will be tough finding a candidate that appeals to the small but vocal Tea Party, the aging and reactionary ultraconservatives and the large and ... continue reading


Government shutdown averted! House passes $1.1 trillion bill just in time Watch

Image of The House of Representatives barely managed to avoid another government shutdown by passing a $1.1 trillion spending bill just hours before the deadline.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On the verge of another government shutdown, the House managed to come in with a Hail Mary at the last minute, passing a $1.1 trillion bill on Thursday night, just hours before the deadline at midnight. More surprisingly, the rush to fund the government and ... continue reading


A Mary Moment: Live the Message of Mary, Mother of the Lord Watch

Image of What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for 'we no longer know Christ according to the flesh', but He dwells in us spiritually and the father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us. - Gregory of Nyssa

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I write on a Marian Feast in the Liturgical calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. It is a beautiful feast. One which I always look forward to, every year. Yet, as one who works and walks with Christians from across the confessional spectrum, I am ... continue reading


What's Obama's game? With record tax revenue, the government is STILL putting the American people deeper in debt! Watch

Image of The U.S. government took in a record $400 billion for the first two months of the 2015 fiscal year, but still managed to add nearly $2 billion to the current U.S. deficit.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is a well known truth that the U.S. government, especially under the administration of President Obama, loves to spend, and for the first two months of the fiscal year 2015 the government set a new record in taking your money. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 49:2, 8-10
2 Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen; listen to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:3-4, 7-8, 17
3 Mountains and hills, bring peace to the people! ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 1:1-17
1 Roll of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 17th, 2014 Image

St. Olympias
December 17: Olympias born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family. She ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter