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On this Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving message from Archbishop Thomas Wenski

Thanksgiving Day is not really a religious feast but a secular or civil one. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans of all faiths and of little faith give thanks to God for the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy in this country. This civil holiday inspires many to share their bounty with the poor and less fortunate, and since our country has been described “as a nation with the soul of a church,” Thanksgiving Day can be and is celebrated religiously.  And many will do so by celebrating the Holy Mass in their parishes.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, may we pray that we become a more just and fraternal nation, a nation where human life is protected from the moment of conception until natural death, a nation where marriage is promoted as a union between one man and one woman, a nation where the family is honored and the dignity of even the poor, the homeless, and even the undocumented is respected.

May those of us who sit down with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day for a sumptuous feast prepared from the great bounty of American agriculture also be grateful to the farmers, and the truckers, and grocers that make it all possible. And let us be especially grateful to the more than two million farm workers who pick fruits and vegetables in Florida and California, who harvest apples in the Pacific Northwest and parts of New England and peaches and tobacco in the southern states, and who work in poultry, dairy, on livestock farms in the Midwest and parts of the South. Half of these workers are undocumented and all of them work long hours in the most dangerous of occupations, exposed to pesticides, elements, and unforgiving machinery.

We, Catholics, do well to remember that Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving.’ The Mass is the perfect “Thanksgiving meal” for united with Christ in his sacrificial gift of himself, we give God thanks for the gift of our salvation, the gift of faith, the gift of knowing that we are loved by a merciful and compassionate God. He, of course, “has no need of our praise, yet our desire to thank him is itself his gift to us. Our prayers of thanksgiving add nothing to God’s greatness, but they do make us grow in grace.”