Immersed in Christ: Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, THANKSGIVING DAY (Feast Day reflection; daily reflection follows).
Readings are of the day (no. 506), or may be taken from the “Lectionary for Ritual Masses,” vol. IV, nos.
Church custom used to encourage people to spend about fifteen minutes after Mass in “thanksgiving” for Communion. This may have begun in the days when frequent Communion was frowned upon as too presumptuous for the miserable sinners preachers constantly declared us to be. Pope Saint Pius X gave the death blow to this error when he decreed on December 20, 1905: “Frequent and daily Communion, which is strongly desired by Christ and the Church, is open to all the faithful of Christ. No one who is in the state of grace and comes to the table of the Lord with a good attitude and devotion can be prohibited from receiving.”
Now all are expected to receive Communion at every Mass. And the renewed liturgy has built in a moment of “sacred silence” when, after all have received, we can just sit and absorb the experience of being one with Christ and with each other in the “communion of the Holy Spirit” that consciousness of Christ’s presence in us gives (General Instruction, nos. 43, 45).
1Kings 8:55-61: Solomon has finished the temple God promised he would build (verse 19). Now, as he dedicates the temple, he praises God for his “steadfast love” (v. 23):
Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses.
He uses this moment to encourage:
Therefore devote yourselves completely to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments
The Rite of Communion at Mass is a moment of “rest” God has given us to contemplate the “completed temple” of the Church in the “end time.” We use it to encourage ourselves to “faithful stewardship” in our time: continuing to “build up the Church in love.” We give thanks to get hope—and give it.
Ephesians 1:3-14: Paul gives thanks for what we have already received: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
He looks forward to the fulfillment of God’s “plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.” What is encourages us to work for what will be. That is why we contemplate the “end time” during the Rite of Communion. It is another reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Mark 5:18-20: When the man who had been possessed by demons begged to stay with him, Jesus refused, and said:
Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.
Thanksgiving should inspire giving. Being conscious during the “sacred silence” after Communion of all God has done for us moves us to go out and do likewise for others.
Action: Give thanks for what is. Give yourself to build what can be.