Happy Thanksgiving from Deacon Matt

My dear friends,

Thanksgiving is a secular American holiday, but one with a very Catholic spirit. Our scriptures are full of exhortations to give thanks to God for his many blessings. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love is everlasting” (Ps 107:1), and “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Phil 4:6).

As Catholics, the celebration of a Thanksgiving meal is part of our DNA. It lies at the heart of our worship and defines our relationship with God. I am speaking, of course, of the Eucharist — a Greek word that means “thanksgiving.”

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

1 Cor 11:23-24

Catholics celebrate the thanksgiving meal of the Lord at each and every Mass, and it is through this thanksgiving that Christ remains present among us. Thus we should have no problem following St. Paul’s instruction to “in all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes 5:18).

Our faith compels us to recognize our blessings, to receive everything as grace from God, and to express gratitude to our Maker. When we take stock of our blessings this year, we find so much to be thankful for in our ministry.

I would like to share with you this prayer for Thanksgiving Day given in the book, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, published by the USCCB, along with a litany of blessings (not exhaustive) that I am thankful for this year in our ministry. (I invite you to adapt the prayer for your own use as you gather around the table with family and friends this Thanksgiving).

Lord, we thank you
for the goodness of our people
and for the spirit of justice
that fills this nation.
We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of the cities.
We thank you for our work and our rest,
for one another, and for our homes.
We thank you Lord: (here add your personal prayers of thanksgiving)
  • We thank you for giving yourself to us in the Eucharist and making it possible for us to celebrate the Mass in our chapel.
  • We thank you that students have returned to campus, and in-person instruction.
  • We thank you that we are able to gather together once more for fellowship dinners at our center and shared meals in the cafeteria.
  • We thank you for making the sacraments available to us, through the ministry of your priests.
  • We thank you for the new students who have become a treasured part of our community.
  • We thank you for our students preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation, including unconfirmed Catholics, those baptized outside of the Catholic Church seeking communion, and new Christians preparing for baptism.
  • We thank you for a Spirit-filled day of retreat we were able to share with our friends from UNCA.
  • We thank you for the many beautiful friendships growing among our students.
  • We thank you for the work underway to restore our outdoor Stations of the Cross path, and the donors who have made it possible.
  • We thank you for those about to graduate.
  • We thank you for keeping our students safe during this pandemic.
  • We thank you for giving us the ability to help others.
  • We thank you for new life.
  • We thank you for bringing our departed loved ones to eternal life.
  • We thank you for the love, prayers, and support of our community members — including the families of our students, alumni, and members of our local parish and diocese — who make our ministry possible.
For all that we have spoken
and for all that we keep in our hearts,
accept our thanksgiving on this day.
We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.

After our national day of Thanksgiving follow what have become the secular “high holy days” of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But in recent years we have added to this economic Triduum the more charitably oriented Giving Tuesday. Like a day of giving thanks, a day for giving back is certainly something Catholics can — and should — get behind. If you would remember Catholic Campus Ministry in your charitable giving this year, that would be yet another blessing for which we would be grateful.

With Thanksgiving in Christ,

Deacon Matt