By M. Taylor
He stood in the road, a note of sadness in his simple, yet majestic demeanor, as He watched the ten men disappear in the distance. Presently, a shape detached from the hazy group, and hurried back to thank the divine power that healed him of the dreaded leprosy. “Were not ten made clean?” Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke, 17:17)
So, for a country to have made the giving of thanks a national holiday, and thus, so to speak, institutionalized gratitude, is indeed a great thing, and excellent thing, a thing that can’t fail to please God, the giver of all good things.
While many countries have some form of thanksgiving on their national calendars, Thanksgiving Day is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.
In Canada, the origin of the celebration has roots in English harvest festivals and, actually, precedes the origin of the American feast.In the US, Thanksgiving dates back to the first colonists in Plymouth, M.A. in 1621, who organized a feast in thanks for a good harvest.
After that first gathering, religious and civil leaders offered various forms of thanksgiving through the years, but it was George Washington, while president of the United States, who proclaimed the first nation-wide Thanksgiving-Day on November 26, 1789.
He established the holiday “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
An attitude of gratitude moves the heart of God, as it moves the heart of anyone who is the object of sincere thanks.
Indeed, who knows but that the many and great blessings of our country are derived from that first attitude of grateful prayer of our first president?
In his marvelous little book, The Way of Trust and Love, Fr. Jacques Philippe, contemporary spiritual master, calls the virtue of gratitude “one of the secrets of the spiritual life that is also one of the laws of happiness.” 1
Expounding on the mysterious Gospel passage, “for to him who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away (Matt. 13:12),” Fr. Philippe elucidates that if we recognize and are grateful for all the good things we have received in life, we will receive even more. But if we choose to camp out in the barren land of resentment and discontent, we will receive less and less.
This is a law written into nature. Indeed, a life lived with trust and gratitude shines, even in difficult moments. A life steeped in bitterness and resentment is miserable even amidst the greatest ease.
St. Paul invites us to “Give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He also adds with force, “And be thankful!” (Colossians 3:15)
In the sight of God we are all lepers, our souls filled with sinful sores. As a nation, despite our great qualities, and our brave generosity, we have sinned grossly and continue to do so. Suffice it to mention the holocaust of abortion.
Yet God Our Lord makes His magnificent sun rise on us each day, and warms our lives, and grows our food and shines on our journey, ever inviting us back to Him.
So this Thanksgiving, as we carve that juicy turkey, and enjoy that velvety pumpkin pie, may America and Americans resolve to be the leper that not only comes to Him for forgiveness and healing, but who does not forget to return and thank–always.
Douay Rheims Bible OnlineWikipedia1 The Way of Trust and Love by Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 112Painting: Jennie Brownscombe - 1914 The First Thanksgiving