Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving history

In 1789, George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving to acknowledge “the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” Washington set the day aside for Americans to give thanks for their newly established government, but most of all, to render unto God “sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection.” In his thanksgiving declaration, Washington rightfully acknowledged God as “the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, said similar things in proclaiming Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. It came at a time when brother fought brother in the Civil War. In many ways, Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation reads like a prayer.  Recounting the benefits of a major victory the Union received, Lincoln recognized God alone as the object of a nation’s gratitude. He wrote the victories “were the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” And so Lincoln decided to invite all Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of each November — a day set aside to offer “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

It is popular opinion to regard the celebration of Thanksgiving as tracing its roots back to the pioneering Puritan pilgrims of Plymouth Rock who gathered to give thanks for a good harvest in their new North American home. The celebration has religious connotations because these pilgrims sought political asylum to practice their freedom of religion. This “first” Thanksgiving floats about in the minds of many Americans each year as they gather around the table for their turkey.

But that was 1621. Since history is told by the winners, the English myth prevailed despite a detailed account of a thanksgiving feast celebrated over half a century earlier. The Thanksgiving of 1565 was celebrated in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. Of course, the Spanish colonizers who hosted it were Catholic, and they gave thanks to God, as Catholics do, for their safe passage and arrival in the New World. Not only did they celebrate with a meal of gratitude that day, but they also celebrated what is regarded as the first Mass in America.

Michael R. Heinlein

Friday, November 17, 2017

What is humility?

True humility consists not in wallowing in unworthiness, but in recognizing our gifts and talents, whatever they are, and trying to use them to the best of our abilities. St. Ignatius Loyola reminds us that everything - all of life - is gift. God made us exactly as we are, and "God don't make no junk!" as my high school youth minister liked to joke. God created each of us in his "image and likeness," and that means each of us possesses infinite worth. It also means we each have been endowed with unique, God-given gifts to share with the world - gifts that God really NEEDS us to share with the world. In other words, our talents aren't ours. We didn't create them so we can't cling on to them as if they're our possession.
True humility, then, means "shooting for the moon," using the gifts we've been given as best we can, remembering that they come God and are meant to be given back to him in loving service.
-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

Honoring Our Bravest

On this Veterans Day, we remember those who serve and have served faithfully in all branches of the service. May God bless them all, all year long.

A Prayer for Deployed Soldiers

Heavenly Father,
inspire those who are overseas for the cause of peace.Send your Son, Jesus Christ, as the Prince of Peace.
Bless the men and women of our military
who respond to the needs of peacekeeping.
Keep them safe from harm.
Let them be models of discipline and courage,
and bring them home safely to their loved ones.
We ask this in your name.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sutherland, TX: Let love go before us...

Sunday. Again. Another story of a mass murder.

Just last week I prayed with the Manhattan truck attack. The people who died. The people left behind. Everyone who was hurt. Everyone. All of us. In one great lament. Inside my heart I asked God Why?  And I seemed to hear God’s own immense wail of sorrow. Lamentation. Pain at seeing death snatching his children again. God’s tears gave me permission to shed my own. To unite my lamentation to his. To blend my agony with the divine agonizing cry of love that rises from the heart of Jesus. To melt my Why? into mystery. They are the fierce tears stronger than those of a mother who would throw herself in the way of danger to save her child. As Jesus has done for us.  Last night I listened to the statement of the Pastor's wife at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I was both moved and humbled. It is clear that in the midst of this evil, they as a communityas a common Bodyare acting out of the premise that even with a church building beyond repair and many of their congregation now gone, they are still a community. All still one. Re-gathering, consoling and in reality re-membering one another. Evil carried but not absorbed.Let love go before us, then, to tend to the broken hearts. Let wisdom light the way, calling down the Holy Spirit on all of us that we might see the plan, God’s plan, and find our way together once more.
Sr Kathryn J. Hermes