(Due to Bulletin deadlines, I’m writing this on Nov. 15, well before it’s publication. Please excuse anything that seems out of date.)
Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a great and blessed Thanksgiving. Although it’s a secular holiday and not a Catholic Holy Day, it’s a wonderful day of celebration. It is really more than a “secular holiday,” which can have something of negative connotation in the Christian context; let’s call it an American “cultural holiday,” one that is the fruit of our heritage of having a culture deeply rooted in Christianity and Christian values.
In particular, the Christian virtues of fortitude and diligence (reflected in working hard to provide for oneself and one’s family), and charity (reflected in being willing to share the fruits of one’s labor or good fortune with others), and, of course most importantly and above all, gratitude or thankfulness to God for the gifts He’s given us.
In the end, everything we have is God’s gift. As St. Paul says, “What do you have that you did not receive?” Whether it’s material goods, health, family, love, faith, or human dignity, rights, and liberty, God is the giver of all good things.
Unfortunately, many people today treat Thanksgiving as a holiday to give thanks to one another, with no mention of God at all. Certainly, it’s good to thank other people for the good they do, but that is not the reason Thanksgiving was established as a national, cultural, holiday.
As President George Washington decreed on October 3, 1789, as he proclaimed the first Thanksgiving Day of the United States: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations 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, and whereas both Houses of Congress have …requested me “to recommend …a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God …Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted ….to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks …”
And as President Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1863, as he permanently established the official national holiday: “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens…”
Shocked, Part Two. Last week I railed a bit against Hollywood’s debasement of our societal sexual values, and especially it’s sexual degradation of women and children. Reading over those comments it occurred to me that there were some other things I meant to say. So…
The national press is currently having a feast on the accusations against Alabama senatorial candidate, Roy Moore. If the disgusting allegations are true, he does deserve reprobation—as Ivanka Trump said, “’There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children.” But that’s an important “if”—accusations are one thing, proof of guilt is another. Even so, sometimes the accusations or the accusers themselves are, in fact, so credible that we can make some level of judgment before the full course of due process is complete. So, voters in Alabama, and perhaps even leaders of the Judge Moore’s party, must make a judgment based on the facts as they understand them.
But it is interesting how when it comes to moral transgressions, folks on the left (I refer to those actively rejecting traditional moral values) are so quick to judge folks like the tradition-minded Moore, while being much more reticent to judge more left-leaning politicians. The classic example is the treatment of accusations against Pres. Bill Clinton who was (and still is) credibly accused of rape and abuse by three different women. For years the media worked hard to suppress or white-wash the allegations, and many left-leaning politicians, including Hilary Clinton, viciously attacked the women who accused him. It was only after he admitted to taking sexual advantage a young staffer that some on the left finally started to take his sexual misconduct even remotely seriously. But even then, they refused to deny him (or Hilary) office, as they are giddy to do with Moore today.
Let me be clear: I think it’s very reasonable, and often necessary, for voters to deny political office based on sexual misconduct, if they believe charges are truly credible. But it is hypocritical and unjust to use a double standard that gives every benefit of the doubt to left-leaning folks, but rushes to judgment on those who embrace traditional moral values, whether we’re talking in Hollywood or Washington, or Alabama.
And the thing is, all this could be largely avoided if we all just tried to follow the 6th Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” remembering that “adultery” includes cheating on your spouse, fornication (pre-marital sex), homosexual sex, oral sex, pornography, and willfully entertaining lustful thoughts. It also includes looking at people with lust and tempting people to look at you with lust by deliberately dressing immodestly or provocatively.
And by “follow” I mean “strive to keep” the 6th Commandment, not merely talking about it or posting it in a courthouse and then ignoring it in practice. Where would there be room for sexual abuse or harassment in a culture truly formed by that Commandment? And yet Catholics and other traditional Christians are reviled for promoting the 6th Commandment, and related values.
Capital Campaign. The Capital Campaign for our Lighting and Mural Project has proceeded well, especially considering that I have purposefully kept it low key. Since I’m writing this so far in advance of publication, it would be useless to talk about specific numbers. But let me thank all the families and individuals who have made pledges so far. And since I was hoping to have all pledges in by November 30, this coming Thursday, let me once again encourage all of you who haven’t made a pledge yet to do so this week. Again, if you can’t afford the $500 pledge I recommend for each household, please give whatever you can.
And while I’m at it, let me give special thanks to the children of the parish who have made very special donations to the Campaign, particularly Molly and Brigid McDermott, who donated the proceeds from their sales at the Homeschoolers’ recent “Kids’ Mart.”
Advent…. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Start thinking about how you will make this a holy season and not just a holly season. More to come…
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles