Dear brothers and sisters,
On Thanksgiving Day, millions of Americans will gather around the table to say grace, acknowledge and give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon them. This is a very special time when many dispersed families and loved ones gather not only to share a meal but also their mutual love and affection.
As we reflect on God’s goodness and give thanks for the many gifts we have received from Him, let us recall and pray for our brothers and sisters who are experiencing hardships: the poor, the homeless, the sick, those mourning the loss of loved ones, pregnant women considering abortion, the lonely, refugees, migrants seeking a better life for their families, married couples and families struggling to live the joy of love, the incarcerated, and all those suffering from depression or other mental illnesses. May they experience the love and closeness of Christ in their lives.
Thanksgiving in Scripture and the Eucharist
Jesus instituted the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving: “He took the bread, and giving thanks, broke it … He took the chalice, and once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples” (cf. Lk 22:19,17, 1 Cor 11:24).
At Mass, a brief but important dialogue reminds us what we are about: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God… it is right and just. It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.”
Preparing our hearts for the season of Advent
The Sunday following Thanksgiving Day brings us the Season of Advent and, with that, a new Liturgical Year.
During Advent, we await in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Jesus. During the first two weeks of Advent, the Church invites us to reflect upon the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. The remaining two weeks prepare us for the liturgical Season of Christmas where we meditate on the sacred mysteries of the birth of Jesus and the life of the Holy Family.
To help us better experience the Season of Advent, let us reflect upon some wisdom from the recently canonized Saint John Henry Newman:
“Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand,’ that there are ‘new heavens and a new earth’ to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will ‘soon see the King in His beauty,’ and ‘behold the land which is very far off.’ These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ” (Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. V, “Worship, a Preparation for Christ’s Coming”).
I pray that during the short four weeks of Advent, we prepare the way for the Lord in our hearts and in our families as we prayerfully and joyfully await his coming.