“REDISCOVERING THE CATHOLIC ORIGINS OF THANKSGIVING”
Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans!
Why do we celebrate this day? Let’s use this opportunity to rediscover the true history that we Catholics should be remembering and share with our families and friends this year. I had no idea until my adult years that there are really two Thanksgivings that we should be celebrating, both of which are Catholic origins. The first Thanksgiving was not in Plymouth in the autumn of 1621 of which we learn of the starving, anti-Catholic Puritans being saved, ironically yet providentially, by a Roman Catholic Native American named Squanto. Thanks to Dale Alhquist, we have a great summary of the Catholic origin of this event and the Catholic Church being the real protagonist for freedom of religion in America, not the intolerant Puritan “pilgrims.” You can read it here.
The first Thanksgiving meal was really on September 8, 1565 in now St. Augustine, Florida — the oldest European city in continental America. It was on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the first act of the Spanish fleet upon landing on mainland America was to offer a Mass of Thanksgiving to God for the safe arrival of the Spanish and to bless their mission in the new world. The Mass was followed by a thanksgiving feast. Philip Kosloski writes a great article on this here.
In this critical moment of history, let us make no mistake about it, America is fighting for its soul. And its soul precedes the anti-Catholic Puritan spirit of the 1620s and even those principles of freedom penned into the Declaration of Independence. The American soul is deeply Catholic. Let us be deeply thankful for that and also realize the great responsibility we have in feeding a spiritually starved and truth deprived nation.
We’ve just seen how Mary and the Eucharist are the two pillars upon which America was built. Even our rivers had Catholic names like the Mississippi being originally called the River of the Immaculate Conception by Pére Marquette upon his founding of it. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and prepare for Advent and the great upcoming feasts dedicated to Mary (Dec 8-12), let us be reinvigorated with gratitude that we know the blueprint to bring America back to God and make her the greatest she’s ever been. Rediscovering this history gives us the keys to what will save our country in this dark hour. If we fail to do this, we will be like the Israelites who led themselves into bondage and slavery when they failed to pass on the story of God’s mercy and providence toward His people and when they failed to observe all that He had commanded them — as Moses repeatedly drew to their attention, especially in his farewell address in the Book of Deuteronomy.
Let’s make sure this Thanksgiving holiday is not our last, but our best yet — the beginning of a new dawn for a renewed Catholic America.
Blessings to all this Thanksgiving!