Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Catholicity of Lincoln

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, a word that means thanksgiving, we say,

P. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
R. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord...

Thanksgiving is supposed to be the constant state in which we live as Christians. And yet, how little does it take to shift us from thanking to complaining. Earlier this month at Disney World I was standing in a group being held up by someone complaining about something truly minor, and someone murmured, "These are first world white people problems." As someone in that ethnic group, it made me reflect on how petty we can be.

Sit in a restaurant and listen to the things that the waitstaff gets chastised for by customers. We act as if the fact that we are paying for something absolves of the requirement to love our neighbor as ourself, or even show common courtesy.

We Catholics proclaim Thanksgiving every time we celebrate the Eucharist, but Lincoln understood it. Right in the middle of the American Civil War, 1863, he called for all of us on the 4th Thursday of November to pause and give thanks.

We Catholics shouldn't need this holiday because every Sunday and in fact every day in churches around the world we celebrate thanksgiving. But we do need it. We, as much as anyone, need to be reminded of the centrality of thanksgiving (Eucharist) to the Christian life.

Today as families gather there is sure to be some family drama. Can we resolved not to be sucked into the vortex? Just for this day, self-monitor. Let us remain always in a state of gratitude for all that we have, most of which we do not merit. If only for this one day let us live in constant thankfulness.