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"While the turkey bastes" by Anni Harry (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2014 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved. Used with permission.[/caption] November is always a busy month. We kick off the month with a reminder of the Solemnity of All Souls, and many Catholic families hold some sort of saint-based parade or party. The next day is the Remembrance of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It’s a solemn day, but is also a day in which we bask in the reminder of God’s mercy. This year, it seems as though November has flown by, and now we have hit the biggest day of the month -- Thanksgiving Day. Like many homes in the country, mine will be filled with family and food, followed by a turkey coma. Perhaps most importantly, the day will be a reminder of gratitude … giving thanks to God for the life before us at the dinner table. It will be a difficult day for others -- for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have struggled to find the reasons to be grateful, for those who maybe struggle to understand God’s purpose for their lives. Yet, Thanksgiving is more than the hustle and bustle. It is more than the festivities and cheer. It is more than one single day sitting around the dinner table. Today, I challenge all of us to dig a little deeper. Here are some deeper thoughts to consider, as we await the turkey in the oven, or cream the mashed potatoes, or check the glaze on the sweet potatoes:
  1. The word Eucharist translates to “Thanksgiving.” During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how can we be more meaningful in remembering the “attitude of gratitude” that Jesus’ sacrifice cultivates? Are we receiving Jesus in a worthy manner -- focusing solely on Him as we approach Him for the Eucharist? And, perhaps more importantly, do we thank Him for the gift of Self only He can provide?
  2. The month of November is all about the Holy Souls of Purgatory. We are challenged to recall the loved ones we knew, and the ones we did not know, and to pray and offer small acts of sacrifice on their behalf. But, how much do we know about the Holy Souls? Do we know why they are referred to as Holy Souls (answer: because they are still recipients of God’s mercy)? Have we focused enough on sacrificing little moments in our month, on their behalf? Do we understand this theological teaching as it pertains to God’s final act of mercy for the sins we commit on earth?
  3. The first of November is the Solemnity of All Saints, encouraging us to remember the ways in which Holy Men and Women inspire us with their acts of heroic virtue. Have we taken the time to consider the areas of similarity we have with the saints? Have we considered asking any given saint for their prayers to help correct a vice? Have we created a way in which our focus is not just on our neighbor, but mostly on achieving the ultimate eternal reward?
As of today, the holiday season is in full swing. Santa has waved to us from the Macy’s Day Parade, and Christmas carols will be played more often than not. We will celebrate Christ the King at Mass this weekend. And, we will begin to prepare our hearts and homes for Jesus the following weekend, with the kickoff of Advent. I urge all of us to take a moment out of this time in our year. Give thanks to God, for He is indeed good. I also urge us to take a moment to consider what else we can do to grow closer to Him during the hustle and bustle of the season. Enjoy the Thanksgiving meal, or family time, or simply the time to relax with some good television. Enjoy the early Black Friday shopping, or enjoy the turkey coma that strikes, and that extra slice of pumpkin pie. But don’t forget to be grateful for Jesus in the Eucharist, and for all those Holy Men and Women - whether they are saints, or whether they are in purgatory - who have paved the way for us … and, provided us with the ultimate examples of how to live a life worthy of Christ’s sacrifice. He deemed us worthy of a sacrifice. Let us thank Him for it today.
Copyright 2018 AnnAliese Harry