How long has the Thanksgiving holiday been with us?
We, as a nation, formally celebrated it for the past 152 years … ever since our 16th President … Abraham Lincoln declared the 4th Thursday in November to be a National Holiday. But, the idea of taking a special day to express our gratitude to God for all His blessings actually came from the very First President of the United States… George Washington.
Consider what this remarkable man wrote 217 years ago regarding November 26th, 1798:
“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 to humbly implore His protection and favor; ( I ) 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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them the opportunity peacefully to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
(Wow! A President who had no problem acknowledging God as Almighty and declaring our relationship to Him as one of humility and gratitude.) President Washington went on:
“Therefore, I do recommend and assign (next) Thursday of November (26th) 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, … for the signal and manifold mercies and favorable interpositions of His Providence 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 able 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.”
Freedom of religion! We’ve had it from the very beginning of our country … may God help us to retain it. As we gather together this week to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with our families and friends, let’s remember President Washington’s invitation to include prayers of thanksgiving the very day he asked us to give thanks to God. And hopefully, this would include the greatest most powerful Prayer in the world … the Mass (which will be offered at 7PM, in Hoven on Wednesday and 8:00AM in Bowdle, Thursday Morning. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!