Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in tradition. Families gather to share a meal, fellowship and to give thanks to God for their blessings.
On the holiday, we reflect on the moments in which Jesus has been present to us in the past year. And more importantly, how do we share those moments of faith with others?
We shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to our family and friends about what our faith means to us. This issue of the St. Louis Review includes advice from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and others on how to talk with family and friends about our faith at the holiday table. Prayer was a key component in suggestions they shared.
When we pray, we deepen our relationship with Christ, and help others to more fully understand His love for us. Prayers of thanksgiving also help to reveal the fullness of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about the importance of giving thanks through prayer:
“As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving. The letters of St. Paul often begin and end with thanksgiving, and the Lord Jesus is always present in it: ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’; ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2638).
The celebration of the Eucharist, too, is an act of thanksgiving. Archbishop Carlson recommended attending Mass the day before or on Thanksgiving as an act of gratitude. In fact, the Greek form of the word “Eucharist” is translated as “thanksgiving” in English. The Catechism notes that “the inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called: Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim — especially during a meal — God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1328).
So when we meet to give thanks this holiday, let us not be afraid to share our faith with others. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in leading others to a relationship with Jesus.