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Happy Thanksgiving Day: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

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By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/26/2015 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

In the midst of the struggles we face in the United States of America, we really need to stop and give thanks! We are still a truly blessed people

Happy Thanksgiving Day. May it be a day for love and gratitude. No matter how difficult the challenges we face as a Nation, we have much to be grateful for. As we give thanks, we will find the strength we need to love even more fully. As we practice regularly giving thanks, we can discover how to be faithful to our call to continuing the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, Love Incarnate, in an age hungering for the fullness of God's love. Christians are invited to take the seed which lies at the heart of this Thanksgiving Day and plant it in the field of the world; so that it can bear the fruit which it points toward. We are called to always give thanks. We are also called to love with the very Love of God - in which all human love is revealed and through which all human love is "perfected", a word which means completed.

Around tables throughout America, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather with mothers and fathers, Grandpas and Grandmas, extended family, neighbors and friends to thank God and one another. And then, we feast; not only on the food, but even more importantly, on the gift of the love which informs all family relationships and true friendships, the real source of lasting joy, the love of the God who gave us life and liberty.

Around tables throughout America, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather with mothers and fathers, Grandpas and Grandmas, extended family, neighbors and friends to thank God and one another. And then, we feast; not only on the food, but even more importantly, on the gift of the love which informs all family relationships and true friendships, the real source of lasting joy, the love of the God who gave us life and liberty.

Highlights

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Americans gather around dinner tables to eat turkey and those special side dishes and desserts prepared according to recipes handed down for generations. We laugh, feast and celebrate the freedom secured for us by our forebears. We offer thanks to the One who is the source of our liberties, the living God who continues to watch over us. Although a "secular" holiday, the celebration of Thanksgiving is profoundly religious at its core. So are we. So is this Nation.

In the midst of the struggles we face in the United States of America, we really need to stop and give thanks! We are still a truly blessed people. Our Nation is at a crossroads. We should use this National Holiday as a time to reaffirm our reliance upon God - and our need for His Mercy and intervention. Give thanks today as you gather around the dinner table. Tell the stories of our past and toast the hopes for our future. Give thanks, in the words of that beautiful song written by Don Moen, "with a grateful heart".

As Christians, we should not be numbered among those who curse the darkness and complain about the hour in which we live. We must become those who light the light to dispel the darkness and pave the way to a better day. That is because we know the One who is the Source of that light and the One who can set all men and women free. We should be a people of thanksgiving - and a people of joy. Christian joy is not rooted in the circumstances and struggles of our daily lives. It also need never be robbed from us by those circumstances.

The word Gospel means Good News! The Goodness of the News we proclaim does not change. And we can proclaim that Good news in both word and lifestyle. Our circumstances present us with an invitation - how we will respond? When we choose to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gives us the means and the resources we need to respond in gratitude and experience real joy even in struggles. Christian Joy finds its root in the relationship we now have in and through Jesus Christ, with the Father, and in the Holy Spirit. That relationship not only survives in struggle, it thrives in struggle.

Christians are invited to imitate the Savior whom we follow; to become people who choose to live our lives for others. When we give thanks and cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude for all of the blessings which God has given to us, we are filled with grace, and we learn to love. Today the Church calls her faithful sons and daughters to give thanks in her Liturgy. St. Teresa was fond of saying "We will not learn how to love if we are not grateful."

Some Catholic Christians in America will participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Mass,on Thanksgiving Day. They will hear the Gospel chosen by the Catholic Bishops of the United States for this National holiday. It is an excerpt taken from St. Luke (Luke 17:11-19) and tells the story of the ten lepers who were miraculously healed by Jesus during his journey to Jerusalem. However, only one came back to give thanks.

The account of these lepers invites us to examine ourselves. Are we that one? Do we return to give thanks to the Lord? In the words of the Apostle Paul we are also reminded to "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) How are we doing? The Readings at Mass all call us to live a lifestyle of gratitude. They also remind us that Jesus, in His Sacred humanity, shows us how to live such a lifestyle of gratitude. And through the complete gift of Himself - He makes it all possible, giving us the grace which we need. Give thanks with a grateful heart.

Saint John Paul II, in a message he gave on July 29, 1987, reminded us: "In the truest sense we can say that the prayer of the Lord and his entire earthly existence become a revelation of the fundamental truth: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17). Thanksgiving is the source of all blessings from on high. 'Let us give thanks to the Lord our God' is (the) invitation the Church places at the center of the Eucharistic liturgy."

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers, may it be a day for love and gratitude. No matter how difficult the challenges we face as a Nation, we have so much to be grateful for. As we give thanks, we will find the strength we need to love even more fully. As we practice regularly giving thanks, we can discover how to be faithful to our call to continuing the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, Love Incarnate, in an age hungering for the fullness of God's love.

Christians are invited to take the seed which lies at the heart of this Thanksgiving Day and plant it in the field of the world; so that it can bear the fruit which it points toward. We are called to always give thanks. We are also called to love with the very Love of God - in which all human love is revealed and through which all human love is "perfected", a word which means completed.

Thanksgiving Day reveals that there really is no separation between the secular and the spiritual. After all, God is the Creator of all and the Author of life. He is also the source of all that is good - whether He is acknowledged to be so or not. As the beloved disciple John said "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God." (1 John 1:4-7)

We will love today. We will reach out to one another - and to the less fortunate. When we choose to love, we participate in the love of God. This is true for even those who do not - yet - acknowledge Him.He loves all men and women. We will give thanks today, for all the great gifts we have received. As we do, we will draw His presence more deeply into our daily life together. Love and gratitude are the keys to unlock the deeper meaning of life and they reveal the goodness of this day we call Thanksgiving Day.

The smell of turkey will soon fill homes around this beautiful Nation. Tables will be set for the Feast. And what a wonderful Feast it is - this unique American celebration called Thanksgiving. It is an extraordinary tradition. An entire Nation, in the beauty of all of its rich diversity and pluralism, pauses as one - to love and to give thanks for all of our blessings and our bounty. We gather to express our gratitude for our health, our happiness and our life together.

Around tables throughout America, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather with mothers and fathers, Grandpas and Grandmas, extended family, neighbors and friends to thank God and one another. And then, we feast; not only on the food, but even more importantly, on the gift of the love which informs all family relationships and true friendships, the real source of lasting joy, the love of the God who gave us life and liberty.

On one of the panels at the Jefferson memorial in Washington, DC, we read these words from another American President: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" It is time to re-secure those liberties by reaffirming the One who is their source and their guarantee.

Happy Thanksgiving Day. Give thanks with a grateful heart!

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Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren, He is a constitutional lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties. He has long been active at the intersection of faith, values and culture.He currently serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel.  He is also a Senior Contributing writer for THE STREAM.

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