At a time of year when we are given to ponder the four last things, praying for the souls in purgatory and preparing for Advent, we are inevitably barraged with advertising from companies and stores that are overly eager to get us to buy what they’re selling.

Amid this commercial high point every year, in the U.S., we have Thanksgiving Day, celebrated by most Americans, regardless of ethnicity, nationality or religion. And I’m grateful for it, because whether people want to believe it or not, Thanksgiving is a religious holiday.

Giving thanks to God for his material and spiritual bounty has its roots in the earliest origins of Judaism. Later, the Spanish colonists gave thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World by offering Mass in St. Augustine, Florida. And the Puritans, seeking religious freedom in the New World, gave thanks to God for a fruitful harvest with a meal they shared with the Wampanoag Indians in 1621.

President Abraham Lincoln solemnly proclaimed a day of thanksgiving Oct. 3, 1863, for a nation wounded by war. Our nation is still wounded, but now because too many people favor political parties over the common good, moral relativism over objective truth, and utilitarianism over respect for human dignity.

We are in need of healing. And it begins with giving thanks to God for his many blessings. Please join me in expressing gratitude to Our Lord and imploring him, in the words of Lincoln, “to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

God bless you!