Being a Papist and not a Puritan, I have always felt somewhat ambiguous about the Thanksgiving holiday . . . not about the domestic observance of Thanksgiving, but about the attempt to interpret it liturgically. The Thanksgiving holiday originated in the sacramental void of Protestantism. When one silences the Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro of the Mass, one necessarily begins to look for something to put in its place. This, I think, is why it is so difficult to catholicize the American Thanksgiving holiday. It feels foreign to the Catholic ethos.
This year Thanksgiving squeezes out Pope Saint Clement I and Saint Columban. I suppose the best pastoral solution is to offer the Mass given in the Roman Missal under the title “In Thanksgiving to God.” That is something I am perfectly willing to do. The nuns I serve as chaplain are very keen on having proper readings. So be it. I choose my battles. But I will miss preaching on the magnificent page of The Apocalypse appointed in the Lectionary.
One of the nicer things about Thanksgiving is that it always occurs on a Thursday. This does open the door to the Cenacle and to the mystery of the Eucharist. It does rather call for a catechesis on Holy Mass as the Great Sacrifice of Thanksgiving offered from the rising of the sun to its setting. So inspired, I will take a thoroughly papistical approach to this Protestant holiday.
I do cherish the Thanksgiving dinner lovingly prepared by Mom and the blessing pronounced by Dad. I do enjoy being with my family. It’s like having a big Italian Catholic Sunday Dinner on Thursday. But I’ll never be a Puritan.