A Catholic Crisis in Thanksgiving?

Thomas Griffin 11/25/20

The Catholic Church, our nation, and globe are in crisis. All three of these arena’s are in dire need of reform and revival with a return to focusing on what is most important, critical, and profound in human existence. So this Thanksgiving, what can we be thankful for?

To give thanks is a process of awareness, attentiveness, and recognition that we are not the cause of all the good things in our lives and in our world. With the presidential debacle, McCarrick Report, pandemic uncertainties, financial issues, and closing of churches for worship where should our thanks fall this November? So much is in chaos and out of order that it can often appear as if gratitude is naivete. Let’s destroy this argument with facts. 

When virtue and values are threatened there is a retreat towards the true, the good, and the beautiful which is so necessary. Rather than pursuing an abstract mental practice and simply following the empty phraseology of“looking at the bright side” let us embark on a practical endeavor towards a gratitude that should always force us to sink our heels into the present moment and view the world through the lens of God’s reign. 

There are countless examples in parishes, schools, and communities around the world of families who are circling the wagons and standing by Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. These are the families who still attend Mass together each Sunday, make sandwiches for the poor in their community and pray several times a day as a family. They are the remnant of previous generations who refused to cease worship despite famines, wars, illnesses and insurrections. The brokenness of marriage is evident in our nation, but the heroid witnesses of countless holy couples are on the rise if we peer through the muck. Their devotion in the face of practical difficulties and seemingly insurmountable odds ought to be applauded with our voices and prayers. 

We know that there are virtuous families rooted in Christ through our American because of the increase of vocations to specific religious orders who span the gamut of charisms our Church is in need of. The following orders have a median age admittance in the 20s and they cannot hold all applicants in some cases. The Missionaries of Charity, the Sisters of Life, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are just a few examples of grace abounding. These are radical orders in the eyes of the world because of their focus on the Euchartist, celibacy, poverty, and obedience. Their witness is changing the lives of people of all ages throughout the world. Their love for the Lord should never go unnoticed. 

This love for the Lord is found in the very thing which we should be most thankful for each day. That at any given moment the Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered for the salvation of the world. Right now there is a priest in some grand basilica, parish church, small chapel, prison ward, or retreat center who is offering Mass. That any moment can be thought of as an instant in which Christ is on his cross suffocating to death for you and for me. The celebration of his triumph over sin, evil and death is the ultimate ritual of thanksgiving. 

As members who view the world in crisis, and it is, there is a reminder that our national holiday of Thanksgiving ought to impel us to reflect on and rejoice in the immeasurable nature of God’s presence with us. God became so small that he was born as an infant in a manger; he became so seemingly insignificant that he becomes bread and wine and locks himself away in tabernacles all over this planet waiting for a visit from you and from me. His heart is in restless pursuit for our soul. 

Everything that we are thankful for in our Church comes down to the fact that we are not God, God is real, Jesus is God, and that the Eucharist is God. This is the reality which impelled the disciples to leave everything behind and follow the son of a carpenter who lived two thousand years ago; this is the truth which pushed forth the martyrs to shed their blood for Christ; this is the love which urges every holy family and consecrated religious to vow sacrificial and unconditional love for God and neighbor. 

As we juggle the many problems with our world let us never lose sight of the victory that has already been won, the blood that has been shed in our name. Let us never grow weary in running our race, but even more so, let us embark on our specific fight with renewed and joyful vigor. Because God is so intimately with us and so powerfully acting in our world.

Crises may flourish, but Christ always, always abounds. For that, we should all be grateful this Thanksgiving. 

Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife and son. He received a master’s degree in theology and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.

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