Ever since I wrote this piece a few years ago, I've received requests to reprint it in church bulletins. It seems to have a certain resonance and perhaps more so in this day and age. Here's part one:
Giving Thanks for the Hard Things in Life
Christine Hirschfeld - Copyright Catholic Home and Garden 2006
Please email [email]email@example.com[/email] for permission to reprint
"Give thanks in all circumstances for this is **
**the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (Thess. 5:18)
As November draws to a close, nearly everyone looks with anticipation to the Thanksgiving Day feast. Families and friends gather around tables bursting with good food, a signal that the season of winter Holy Days is about to begin.
There are plenty of articles that will offer tips for decorating, entertaining and more recipes for turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing than you will ever be able to use in this life. They are delightful and a lot of fun but ...
I invite you to give consideration to another aspect of Thanksgiving **
**-- a Catholic perspective.
On Thanksgiving Day, many Catholic will attend Mass, although it is not a Holy Day. It is a day when the secular culture and the Church meet. Over 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, the missals used in Roman Catholic parishes throughout the United States now present special readings for Thanksgiving Day. In some parishes, processions of children dressed as Pilgrims and Native Americans will be incorporated into the liturgy.
This year there are growing similarities between the plight of the Pilgrims and that of modern Americans. They gave thanks for having enough food, shelter and warmth to get through the winter - considerations that are now weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of many in our nation as jobs and pensions disappear.
Give Thanks for the Church in America
This Thanksgiving, we invite you to give thanks for the Gift of the Catholic Church in America. While there are certainly problems in the American Church, we as Catholics take a lot for granted. Pray for the suffering Church, particularly in India where modern day martyrs are all too common.
One good friend of ours often experiences Sunday without the Mass.
It's not because she and her family don't go to Church. The issue is the lack of a priest to offer the Mass. She doesn't live in the outback, or on a remote island in Micronesia. She lives in Western Canada. They don't live in a cabin in a remote wilderness area. They live in a thriving municipality, but their parish is considered a mission, so if the Priest assigned to minister to them has another obligation, they have to make do with a lay minister and a Eucharistic service.
Think about that.
*Give thanks to God for the Church in your community. *
Give thanks for your pastor.
Even if you don't like him.
Especially if you don't like him.
Give Thanks for the Suffering Church in America
The truth is that many Catholics in America suffer. Some suffer from the effects of a too-liberal interpretation of the documents of Vatican II which have resulted in a wide variety of liturgical abuses.
Others suffer in the knowledge that so many of our Priests have fallen to the temptations of this secular, not-so-holy world, a few in worse ways than others.
Still others suffer from a lack of catechesis and unbridled feminist agendas in the Church leading them to truly believe that there is grave injustice in the lack of a female priesthood and deaconate, and even in the rejection of same sex marriages.
There are many forms of suffering among the laity, and certainly among the clergy and religious as well.
A question: when we assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the true unbloody Sacrifice identical to the humiliation and scandal of Calvary - the purest offering of Love ever to have taken place, can we expect, as Catholics, that we are exempt from the suffering of the Cross?
Let us each take our biases, our notions, whether misguided or not, and accept that the burden of what we may carry in our hearts and minds is our cross to bear. Give thanks for the suffering of the Church. Give thanks that we care enough to suffer.
It is ironic that we, as Catholics, have embraced the journey of the early Protestants who fled to America to escape religious persecution only to practice persecution of Catholics and others in a more vicious manner than they had ever experienced.