Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Thanksgiving is next week and we are about to enter into a season filled with family, friends, and traditions. While it may not be specifically Catholic to the culture, it is inherently Catholic in meaning. Thanksgiving in Greek is Eucharistia, Eucharist, the most precious gift of the Body and Blood of Christ which is the Thanksgiving sacrifice and meal. This means that the Mass is the greatest prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving that we can offer to God, our truest and most fitting response to His great sacrifice. Gratitude is therefore a core, and in my opinion undervalued virtue, of our faith and is at the center of our journey to sainthood.
Look to Eucharistic Prayer II, “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved son, Jesus Christ, your word through whom you made all things, whom you sent as our Savior and Redeemer, incarnate by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin. Fulfilling your will and gaining for you a holy people, he stretched out his hands as he endured his Passion, so as to break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection.” It is our response to God for the many natural or material blessings that he has granted us but more than that it is our expression of thankfulness for the greatest gift, which is our salvation. In a real way I have tried to consider the question, how do I thank someone for dying for me? What could I possibly do that would be a sincere and proportional response to that? The saints have been my help in answering that question, and the response is to live a life loving and honoring in God in all that I do. Letting my actions be a true and authentic expression of my love for Him even in the midst of my fallen nature and through all of my daily experiences.
On Thanksgiving, we do this together as a community with a Eucharistic focus, to be a people of gratitude for all that we have and really recognizing all that we may be taking for granted. Last Thanksgiving, I was immersed in getting married, but I am looking forward to combining some of our shared traditions!
Here are a few ways that you can build your Catholic Thanksgiving Traditions.
1. The best way to make your Thanksgiving centered on Christ, the Eucharist, and community is to go to mass as a family!
2. My family was always very good about saying a prayer of thanksgiving together as a whole group, we did this in conjunction with blessing our food.
3. Stay at the table together, my husband’s family is so great at this, they take their time to enjoy each other! Don’t rush through the meal, talk, eat, play games at the table and take advantage of the time you have.
4. Go around the table and express words or stories of gratitude. How many "jokes" do we hear about the family feuds of the holiday season? Be bold, create an environment where we can share our blessings with each other and let your loved ones hear how you appreciate them, this can be a great way to nurture those relationships.
Indulge in some quotes on gratitude!
1. "When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." -G.K. Chesterton
2. "In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks." -St. Teresa of Avila
3. "To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything." -Thomas Merton
4. "Jesus does not demand great action from us but simply surrender and gratitude." -St. Therese of Lisieux
5. "The best way to show my gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems with joy." St. Teresa of Calcutta