Loading
Thanksgiving: acknowledging our dependence on God
By Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap
Thanksgiving: acknowledging our dependence on God

.- The Roman statesman Cicero once said that, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”  Gratitude expresses our dependence on others.  By its nature, it leads to humility and wisdom, because a grateful heart understands than none of us is really independent.  We have obligations to each other.  We also have needs from each other.  We’re designed to depend on each other as a family; and to depend as a family on God.

Probably no other holiday speaks to the soul of the American experience like Thanksgiving.  The origin of Thanksgiving is thoroughly religious.  It’s also very specifically Christian.  The Protestant Christians who began this tradition nearly 400 years ago practiced their gratitude in the midst of scarcity, disease, high mortality and a harsh new land.  Precisely because of their suffering, they understood their own limitations; their radical dependence on God.  For the people who started it, Thanksgiving was never about holiday sales, self-satisfied comfort or an annual nod to the generic Life Force.  It was a personal conversation with God.  At its heart, Thanksgiving has always been about acknowledging our dependence on God, and offering Him our love and gratitude.  Obviously, people of any religious faith and no religious faith can have grateful hearts and can take part deeply in the joy of Thanksgiving.  But scrubbing God out of the Thanksgiving experience — turning it into yet another secular excuse for consuming more products — leaves two basic questions unanswered:  Who exactly are we thanking, and why are we thanking Him?

This year as we gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner, we’d do well to ask ourselves those two questions.  Many families in our own country and vast numbers of people around the world lack the food, medical care, clothing, conveniences and material resources most Americans take for granted.  We don’t “deserve” our blessings any more than the Third World “deserves” its poverty.  We Americans work very hard for our standard of living — but others around the world work just as hard, or even harder, to barely survive.  God has blessed the United States with freedoms, opportunities and abundance unknown to most other peoples in history.  Those blessings bring along with them responsibilities of charity and justice to others who have less.  This is why every Thanksgiving is a call to Christians to recover who we really are: children of God with family duties to each other.  Gratitude leads to humility; to seeing our true place in creation.  And humility is the beginning of sanity — the clarity of mind to see what’s right, what’s wrong, what needs to be done, and the willingness to do it.

Americans are a generous people.  It’s one of our enduring strengths as a nation.  But we can lose that generosity if we forget who we are, why we’re here, what we owe to others, and Who made us.  May God — who after all is the One we’re thanking — bless each of us and our families this Thanksgiving, and turn our hearts in gratitude to the needs of others.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Jul
28

Liturgical Calendar

July 28, 2014

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Gospel
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 13: 1-11
Gospel:: Mt 13: 31-35

Saint of the Day

St. Victor I, Pope »

Saint
Date
07/27/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:31-35

Homily
Date
07/28/14
07/27/14
07/26/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: