Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks for Life

A little excerpt from a piece a posted two years ago at Thanksgiving…

“Sharing a common meal as a way of giving thanks to God is an integral part of many religious faiths, especially the Judeo-Christian tradition which shapes our own cultural understanding of God. Every year observant Jews celebrate the Passover meal thanking God for delivering their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt. Christians adapted the Passover ceremony to reflect what Jesus did at His Last Supper. Christians give ‘thanks’ to God for delivering humanity from the bondage of sin. These Jewish and Christian meals put the faithful in contact with God. And the ritualized form of these shared meals creates a visible link between all those who share the faith around the world and throughout history.

Historically Christians have given a specific name to their ceremonial meal, a name that aptly describes a key element of its purpose. Most Christians in the first few centuries A.D. were Greek-speaking converts to the new religion. Greek was the language regularly used by the early Church. And in Greek the ritual bread-breaking ceremony was often called eucharistia. From this we derive the term Eucharist which is still used today by many Christian denominations to describe the action and the object of their Sunday celebration. The Greek word eucharistia means “thanksgiving.”

…[T]he word “thanksgiving” carries with it a wealth of religious meaning that should not be lost on any Christian (or any member of any faith). To give “thanks” to something greater than ourselves implies that there exists a Being to receive that thanks and bless us in return. And our celebration of Thanksgiving should retain that vital element. Without God, there is no one to receive the "thanks" we "give."

Thanksgiving is not a Catholic “holy day.” But giving thanks to God is a very “Catholic thing to do - especially in our Eucharistic celebrations and adoration outside of Mass. On this Thanksgiving, as we gather with friends and family and enjoy their loving presence, we should keep in mind another Presence of Love in our midst…the bodily Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. The Holy Father has presented us with an excellent opportunity this year to do just that. Pope Benedict requests that Catholics around the world join in a world-wide vigil this Saturday evening on behalf of the unborn. Many dioceses will hold Eucharistic holy hours for this purpose, and countless millions will join in prayer to promote life. More can be found at this link.

Whether you are able to attend an organized Eucharistic adoration or if you participate in this vigil from your own home, please take a moment on Saturday to remember the vulnerable, unborn members of our society and give thanks to God for the gift of life.

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