November 29, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Thanksgiving. I hope all of you will have a great Thanksgiving. Although it’s a secular
holiday and not a Catholic HOLY DAY, it’s a wonderful day of celebration. In fact,
instead of “secular,” meaning “worldly, which has all sorts of very negative connotations
in the Christian context, let’s call it a “cultural holiday.” In that context, it reminds us
how deeply our culture has been influenced by Christianity and how firmly it is rooted in
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. This, of course, is not at all to
discount individual hard work and ingenuity, but rather to realize that whether it’s the
skills and talents we have or develop, or the opportunities we make or stumble upon, or
the free will we exercise to choose to use and develop all of that, in the end, all of that
comes to us from God’s generosity and our response thereto. Whether it’s material goods,
health, family, love, faith, or human dignity, rights, and liberty, God is the giver of all
good things.
Unfortunately, if you watch and listen carefully, you will see that many people
today treat Thanksgiving as a holiday to give thanks to one another, with no mention of
God at all, or at best, a mention of Him as an afterthought. There’s certainly nothing
wrong with thanking people around you, but that is not the reason Thanksgiving was
established as a national, cultural, holiday. As you can read in President George
Washington’s proclamation of the first Thanksgiving Day, it was established to give
thanks to God for all the many gifts He has given us, as individuals, as families and
as a nation.
I know that we are still struggling with the economic, emotional and physical
effects of Covid. Some of us are facing new struggles brought on by the denial of our
civil liberties, some even face losing their jobs because of immoral vaccine mandates (the
Church teaches you cannot force people to take vaccines).
Even so, we must always recognize the many good things we have, and give
thanks to God for these. For example, after the election earlier this month, we must give
special thanks for the Lord moving our state political leadership in a direction that is
much more protective of the right to life and the “right to parent.”
So let us keep Thanksgiving in its rich American Historical meaning, as a day to
thank God for His gifts. In that regard, I encourage you all to begin the day by attending
our 10am Mass, to celebrate the highest form of “thanksgiving”—the Eucharist, which is
the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”
President George Washington, October 3, 1789.
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 by their joint Committee requested me
“to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer

to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty
God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of
government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign
Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States 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, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country
previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the
favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and
conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which
we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been
enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and
particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with
which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful
knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been
pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our
prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to
pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or
private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to
render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a
Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and
obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown
kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To
promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of
science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of
temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of
New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. — George Washington
Advent. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, as we prepare spiritually for the
celebration of the birth of our Savior at Christmas. Please take some time to plan ahead
for the penitential season of Advent so that it will truly be a time of holiness, not merely
the shopping time between “Turkey Day” and the day Santa Claus comes.
Next weekend we will have an insert with the full schedule of Advent events. But
for now let me remind you to take particular advantage of the increased Confession
opportunities as well as the many existing opportunities for weekday Mass. Also, I invite
you all to attend our Advent Holy Hours on the first 3 Thursdays in Advent. At each of
these we will have Exposition, Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. We
will also pray the Rosary together and I will give a sermon on the topic of, “Faith, Hope
and Charity at Christmas.”
I am very saddened to say that we cannot return to our practice of having “Lessons
& Carols” this Advent, because our choir is still in the process of rebuilding after Covid.
Please pray for the choir’s continuing restoration. If you are interested in joining the
choir, please contact our Music/Choir Director, Elisabeth Turco at
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles