If this word appears Greek to you then you are completely sane. In fact, it is the Greek form of the Latin word Eucharistia, which if you are Catholic should trigger the English word Eucharist. I find it fascinating that the same word used to define the source and summit of the Catholic faith is the same word we use to name a major holiday in America, Thanksgiving! Yes, Eucharist means thanksgiving. The Mass, where we celebrate the Sacrament of all Sacraments, is a celebration of giving thanks to God for all He provides. How can we experience both the celebration of our faith and our country this year.
Thank you, President Abraham Lincoln, for proclaiming this day a national celebration. He pens, ”
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….
… No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they 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 in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascription justly due to Him for such singular deliverance and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln,
President Lincoln begins this proclamation with a grateful heart. He expresses the bountifulness of America and then immediately give thanks to God from whence the abundance originates. Since the country was still in turmoil, he also asks the citizens to offer up prayers to God with “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience” and ask for His care for the marginalized and to restore national unity so all may enjoy peace.
Oh, how history seems to circle back to us. How can we help our nation increase in gratefulness, prayers, humbleness of heart, penitence, unity and PEACE? We evangelize.
We, the Church, the people of God, are “places” of encounter. As temples of the Holy Spirit we share in the Real Presence of Jesus through Eucharist. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, reminds us that as Church we are to be merciful, hopeful, welcoming, loving and forgiving. This, my friends, IS evangelization. Our presence can be a safe-haven for people who are marginalized, despised, forgotten and pushed aside. These are not only the poor we see struggling to survive in the streets. These are the very people we will be sitting next to and across from during our Thanksgiving meals. Evangelization begins at home. Are we spreading forgiveness, love, and open arms to our family? Does peace really begin with us? Lord, help it begin with me.
So this week, remember the goodness of God in all you do and thank Him. As we begin Advent try something new! Commit to begin each day with this statement, “Lord, thank you for my faith. Today I am grateful for ……..” Start with one thing you are grateful for then add another (or more) each day. By Christmas morning you will have 29 grateful items. Of course, the list is unlimited!
Personally I am grateful for my grandparents and parents for handing on the faith; my siblings for being patient with me until adulthood; my daughters for teaching me what it really means to love; and my husband-to-be (plus three beautiful bonus daughters), as we celebrate our Sacrament of Matrimony on November 25th, for showing God’s loves through his complete and complementary love. And he is a fabulous cook too!
Blessed beyond measure, may God’s abundance fill your heart and bring you closer to Him today and forever. Amen.