Did you know the word “Eucharist” actually means “thanksgiving?”

Growing up our family Thanksgiving Day always started by going to Mass.

My mother would say, "It's God that we're thanking. What better way to be thankful than to go to Mass?"

The first Thanksgiving was an expression of gratitude, and ours can be too. There's plenty to complain and stress about, but we all have aspects of our lives and people in our lives to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is the acknowledgment that those blessings come from God.

We often hear that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621. Actually, there were two Catholic Thanksgivings years before that. On Sept. 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida, Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. The second American Thanksgiving was April 30, 1598, when Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate requested the friars to say a Mass of Thanksgiving, which was followed by a feast of goose, duck and turkey.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, among other things, the Holy Eucharist is “an action of thanksgiving to God.” 

Some families like to include appropriate Scripture readings as they sit down to dinner and say grace before the meal. It's a natural way to instill gratitude to and awareness of God in younger family members. Some families like to go around the table with each person saying what they're thankful for from the previous year. Dozens of Scripture verses highlight God's expectation of our thankfulness.

While it's not a Holy Day of Obligation, Thanksgiving just doesn't seem right without thanking God.

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Luke 17:17-18)

Colossians 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This article originally appeared Nov. 22, 2018, at the Register.

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