Category Archives: Thanksgiving

The Grand Finale to the Jubilee Year of Mercy is Upon Us—Thanksgiving*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015, and Pope Francis gave us a quote to coincide with the Holy Year; “It is a favorable time to heal wounds, a time to offer everyone the way of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.”

On November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, The Holy Year will officially end. We will have focused on mercy and forgiveness for a year and received the graces that came along with it. It seems so fitting that the beauty and meaning of this entire Holy Year can now be encapsulated by the impending holiday season. The Holy Father wanted us to direct our actions and attention “on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s actions in our lives . . . a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective”.

Four days after the Holy Year ends we celebrate our great American holiday, Thanksgiving, and this year the holiday presents us with an extraordinary opportunity. What better time to show mercy and love, on a nationwide scale, from sea to shining sea, than Thanksgiving. It can be our grand finale to this grace filled year.

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we pause and simply give “Thanks” for all that we have, even if it is just a “little”; a job, good health, a cancer in remission, the subsiding of a three day old migraine headache, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, surviving a natural disasterthere are so many things that we can be thankful for. Most importantly, there is that great intangible that spreads across our nation on this day and it ties right into the culmination of the Holy Year of Mercy. That intangible is the abundance of mercy, forgiveness and love that explodes within the hearts of so many millions of people.

No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. On this day people all across the country and from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little or no money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers turned friends you just met in a soup kitchen.
In my parish alone, we manage to supply complete Thanksgiving baskets to about 250 families, feeding about 1000 people for the holiday. All of the food is donated by parishioners. Some folks donate money and that is used to purchase the frozen turkeys. In effect, virtually all the parishioners participate in the Giveaway. (I am sure many of you have similar programs in or near your own parishes.)
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving we distribute the turkeys and all the trimmings to people of all denominations in our area to take home for “turkey day”. Everything has come from the hearts of parishioners and is joyfully given to strangers so they might enjoy the day. How cool is that? And doesn’t it also speak to the Holy Father’s call to evangelize?
All across the United States, Catholic parishes, churches of other denominations, soup-kitchens and shelters, etc. show Christ’s mercy and love to strangers on Thanksgiving. It is a wondrous thing and such a beautiful way to finish up the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Unexpectedly, in the year 2016, the end of Holy Year of Mercy collided with our Thanksgiving holiday. If we listen we may even hear the “Drumsticks” smashing cymbals of mercy which resonate nationwide with sounds of love.
As we cross the finish line of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy we thank God for having allowed us to be part of such a grace-filled year. We also should thank Him for Thanksgiving. We can consider it the Grand Finale to the Holy Year just completed. It is a beautiful thing.

                       *This article appeared in Aleteia on November 18, 2016   

                                     ©Copyright Larry peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Time to Pause, Take a Break and Give THANKS to GOD

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.  ~ Psalms 50:14-15

The simplicity of the Thanksgiving Holiday captured my spirit decades ago. This is the one day of the year where we, as Americans, just stop everything and take a breath from the year gone by to say THANK YOU to God for all that we have. We gather with family or friends or maybe even with strangers in a food center who become our new friends, and share the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. All we have to do is “show up”. You do not even  have to bring gifts. Just bring a thankful heart and a smile on your face. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is a beautiful thing.

So I would like to wish anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I am posting two Thanksgiving prayers that fit the occasion.
_______________________________________________________________________________

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
by  Walter Rauschenbusch
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors:
IN GRATITUDE
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

                                  ©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights Reserved

Time to Pause, take a Breath and Give Thanks to HIM.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The simplicity of the Thanksgiving Holiday captured my spirit decades ago. This is the one day of the year where we, as Americans, just stop everything and take a breath from the year gone by to say THANK YOU to God. We gather with family or friends or maybe even with strangers in a food center who become our new friends, and share the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. All we have to do is “show up”. You do not even  have to bring gifts. Just bring a thankful heart and a smile on your face. It doesn’t get any better than that. I love it.

So I would like to wish anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I am posting two Thanksgiving prayers that fit the occasion.
__________________________________________________________________________

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
by  Walter Rauschenbusch
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors
IN GRATITUDE
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.


 From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley.

Be Thankful for Thanksgiving–It is a Beautiful Thing

by Larry Peterson

Right now, a few days before “Turkey Day”, there are many people with very little money and the anxiety levels within them are rapidly increasing. They see the ads for ‘Black Friday’ all over the TV screen. They know Santa will be firing up the eight reindeer in less than a month. If they have children they desperately want him to visit their homes on Christmas Eve.  Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the world of political correctness sans Christmas has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The kids KNOW it is Christmas time and no anti-Christmas hyperbole can change that fact. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. And what about the single parents with only one small income? Providing a Christmas for their kids can be one of the most stress filled times of the entire year. But first comes Thanksgiving. This is a GOOD thing. In fact, this may be the BEST Day of the year for everyone, even those with kids and no money in their pockets. 

Why do I LOVE Thanksgiving? Why do I think it is the best day of the year?  Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, surviving a natural disaster, there are so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. This year even the victims of the recent tornadoes in Illinois and Indiana  will have a turkey dinner available to them no matter what their situation. It will be something to be thankful for on that day and will generate a spark of hope in otherwise despondent hearts. We should all be Thankful for Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful thing. And it is an American thing. May God bless America and each and every one of us (legal & illegal alike) on this Thanksgiving day.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher

"Black Friday" is now "Black Insanity"

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but the truth is, it has attained that status in my world  through the default of my REAL favorite holiday, Christmas. Christmas, in and of itself, will always be the best holiday because of what it represents; Peace on Earth, Good Will to All, Joy to the World and Love and Giving. And it all began with the birth of a baby in a cave or stable somewhere in the bowels of the  Middle East 2000+ years ago. The baby grew up, lived for 33 years, preached love and forgiveness, and changed the world forever. The whole thing is unbelievable. The story is also TRUE. (By the way–there are millions & millions of folks who agree with me on that–could actually be 2,000,000,000 or two billion—So there!).

Thanksgiving really asks nothing of us except to “share and give”. It’s beautiful. Well, that is how Christmas started. What happened to me this year was “Black Friday” was replaced by “Black Insanity”. The Christmas season has always been commercialized, especially in the 20th century and “Black Friday” has been around for a long time with people standing in line in freezing weather at two in the morning to get a “deal” on stuff. Good for them. They had already done the family thing on Turkey Day. For many it became a holiday tradition.

Now, this year, along comes “Black Insanity” (my definition). People were camping out all week so they could get save a few bucks on stuff on Thanksgiving morning and afternoon and evening. WHOA–What happened to family day with the turkey and stuffing and cranberries and pie and football and too much tryptophan –Puhlease—STOP! We need some quality time with our family and friends. Forget about saving some money. You are giving up something that has no price tag because it is priceless. Look folks, we need to empty ourselves once in a while of the world around us, even if it is just a little bit.

There was a time in America when every Sunday was family day. People who had jobs in necessary services  were the ones who worked on Sundays. Dads and moms would have dinner together with the kids, take them out together, or just simply hang out together at home. Most stores were closed, period. I grew up in NYC and the only stores open on Sunday were the candy stores to sell newspapers, the delicatessens and the bakeries. Of course, the saloons opened after 1p.m. That was it. There was a serenity in the air on Sundays, a pause from the everyday, a calmness that surrounded people. It was not perfect but it was good.

 I am just trying to make a point with all this rambling and the point is this. This “Black Insanity” that has taken place this year has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box. Once opened it will never be closed. The only thing that will  happen is “Black Insanity” will expand it’s clutching fingers and grab hold of more and more folks who will believe that they are “missing out”. All those Sundays of years ago were crammed into Thanksgiving and Christmas. It took a long time but it looks like Thanksgiving has just become another modern Sunday?   What’s next? Christmas Day “white sales”?

"Being Thankful for Thanksgiving-"

I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the Christmas season with its “peace-on-earth” and ‘”joy-to-the-world” messages and Santa Claus, and elves and Christmas lights and all that comes with the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. Most of all, I love the “reason for the season”—acknowledging the birth of Christ.

I also am fully aware of the pressure and stress Christmastime can bring to so many. This year, besides the homeless, the unemployed and  those with serious illness, we must factor in the death and devastation brought by “Monster Storm Sandy” on so many of our brother and sister Americans. Christmas for many will require much Faith in the ‘reason for the season’. 

Then there are the many  parents with no money who desperately want Santa to visit their house on Christmas Eve.  Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the “real world” has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. And what about the single parents with only one income, generally small. Providing a Christmas for their kids can be one of the most stress filled times of the entire year. That is a whole other issue.  But first comes Thanksgiving—and Turkey and stuffing and pie and full bellies.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. To me it IS the best day of the year. Why? Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. This year even the victims of “Sandy” will have a turkey dinner available to them no matter what their situation. It will be something to be thankful for that day and will generate a spark of hope in otherwise despondent hearts. We should all be Thankful for Thanksgiving. It is a beautiful thing.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher

"I LOVE Thanksgiving—-

I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the Christmas season with its “peace-on-earth” and ‘”joy-to-the-world” messages and Santa Claus, and elves and Christmas lights and all that comes with the excitement leading up to Christmas Day. Most of all, I love the “reason for the season”—acknowledging the birth of Christ.

I also am fully aware of the pressure and stress Christmastime can bring to so many; the homeless, the unemployed, those with serious illness, and especially the parents with no money who desperately want Santa to visit their house on Christmas Eve. Let’s face it, kids are kids and Santa is Santa; to them the “real world” has no place in their little, anxious hearts. The stress this can cause for a mommy and daddy who might be struggling just to make rent can sometimes be overwhelming. Single parents have a double whammy. They are missing a spouse to vent with. This I shall address in a week or so. But, for now, it is Thanksgiving week.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. To me it IS the best day of the year. Why? Because it is the one day of the year when we pause and simply give thanks for all that we have even if it is just a little. A job, good health, a cancer in remission, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, so many things that we can be thankful for. People from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers in a soup kitchen. It is a beautiful thing.

“If the only prayer you said in your WHOLE LIFE was,”THANK YOU”, that would suffice.”
Meister Eckhart 1260-1327, Theologian and Philosopher