For this year's Thanksgiving reflection, I’d like to discuss over a few separate posts how we Catholics should approach this Thanksgiving in light of the current situation in America. In other words, we should rediscover the truth about Thanksgiving as it relates to Catholics historically and spiritually. A major weapon to fight the war for America’s soul is hidden within the meaning of Thanksgiving.
Combining Thanksgiving and battle in a title doesn’t seem like they are meant to go together. However, this year they do because America, now more than ever, is battling for its soul. The sides of this battle have become clear as day now, if one is at all tuned into the signs of our times politically, morally and socially. Archbishop Fulton Sheen prophetically proclaimed back in the first half of the 20th century that the battle upon America and the West is whether our future will be brotherhood under Christ or comradeship under anti-Christ. Catholics and the West were lulled to sleep the last 80 years and now we have the enemy at our gates.
So, what does the Thanksgiving holiday have to do with this? Well, for us Catholics, the word “Thanksgiving” should be a major trigger word because that is the meaning of Eucharist. And we proclaim the Eucharist as the source and summit of our Catholic faith. If our Eucharistic life is lacking, so is the source of our grace and power in transforming and influencing society, beginning with our families. With 2018 headlines from Gallup reading “Catholics’ Church Attendance Resumes Downward Slide” (less than half attend Mass once a week) and in light of the current massive corruption being uncovered with the sexual abuse and homosexual cancer destroying the Church, why do we wonder that our influence on culture is radically waning and accelerating in unpopularity?
This Thanksgiving should remind our families what is at the heart of the culture war — and it is a “culture” war because what is at stake here is who society will worship — Christ or anti-Christ? This Thanksgiving has deeper meaning because it is a call to us Catholics to return to what makes us world-changers — a dynamic Eucharistic life — a life that gives thanks (eucharisteo) to God for everything because everything we have is a gift from God. A society centered on giving thanks to God for everything is a society that will be saved by God.
Take the recent Gospel story of Jesus and the ten lepers (cf. Luke 17:11-19). Here we have a clear picture of what it means to live an authentic Eucharistic life. All ten lepers cried out for healing and Jesus healed all ten of them on their way to show themselves to the priests. However, ONLY ONE returned to give thanks to Jesus. And the one who gave thanks received an additional and infinitely greater grace from Jesus — salvation. When Jesus told this leper, “Stand up and go, your faith has saved you,” he makes a direct connection between true faith and salvation, which is expressed by our giving thanks to God.
We see therefore, that thanksgiving is the most perfect way we can give God what is due to Him because He owes us nothing and we owe Him everything. We give to others because we have received from God. We reflect God’s magnanimity when we give from our heart to others. And their thanks helps them to live a eucharistic life in various ways. What a contrast in comparison to our present culture of entitlement and anxiety because it thinks everything revolves around them. Imagine a culture that always gave thanks to God in good times and in bad and families where kids are actually content because they realize what they do have is a gift from God through their parents.
So, to help us “remember” the centrality of God as as the primary and ultimate gift giver of every good thing — the greatest being our salvation and invitation to eternal life through Jesus Christ— He gave us the sacrament of Thanksgiving, the Eucharist. Are we grateful for this immeasurable gift? Do we not know that it is the Eucharist that will save the world? Have we not learned why Mary is appearing like crazy all over the world? She repeatedly says, “Build me a church in my honor . . .” Mary is leading us back to her Son in the Eucharist because this is our salvation! And this is what Christ sends us into the world to do at the end of every Mass: Ite Missa est! (“Go, the Mass is ended!")
Click here to go to Part 2