Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CCM Weekly Update

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you enjoy your break and travel safely.  Because of the short week, all of our normal weekly activities at CCM are on hold.  We will have Mass this coming Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, at the usual time of 7:30pm.  Our Credo discussion after Mass this Sunday will be on the liturgical season of Advent itself.  What it is, really?  Is it just a pre-Christmas?  How are we supposed to be celebrating it?  Come with your questions!

Planning ahead for next semester, we are working on figuring out when the best time to have our small group scripture study sessions might be.  We have put together a Doodle poll that we'd like you to participate in, which will help us to identify the best times for people. So if you plan on participating in a small group next semester, or think you just might be interested in a small group, click on the below link and let us know your available times.

A reminder if you are interested in serving in a leadership capacity at CCM, either leading a small group, leading our Wednesday programs, or planning our retreat, please contact me if you have not done so already.  You must have been an active member of CCM for at least one semester to be considered for Peer Ministry Council.

We all know Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and not a Catholic liturgical holiday.  Nevertheless, there is much about Thanksgiving which is very Catholic in character.  Our word Eucharist means "thanksgiving" - to give thanks - and so each time we celebrate the Mass, we are celebrating a liturgical Thanksgiving feast.  

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that Eucharist is essentially a prayer of thanksgiving (1360).  Just listen next time you are at Mass to how often either the celebrant or the faithful says the word "thanks."  But more than just at Mass, we should carry that attitude of thanksgiving out into the world.  The Catechism teaches us that believing in God means "living in thanksgiving" (224).  At Mass we asked to "always and everywhere give thanks" to God.

For this reason, prayer is essential to any true celebration of Thanksgiving.  Rather than being a day to overeat and watch football, our American holiday began as a celebration of thanks and praise to God.  It all began in 1621 when the governor of Plymouth dedicated a day for public prayer in thanksgiving for a good harvest, and the custom spread across New England.  In 1789 our first President, George Washington, declared Thursday, Nov. 26, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

From the beginning, then, Thanksgiving was intended as a day set aside for prayer.  When President Lincoln made him famous proclamation in 1863 declaring the last Thursday in November as a day of national observance, he reiterated the prayerful nature of the holiday.  After describing a litany of blessings the American people enjoy (despite being in the midst of the Civil War at the time), Lincoln underscored the fact that these blessings were "gracious gifts of the Most High God," which "should be acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People."  

Lincoln continued:  "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the the United States, and also those who are at seas and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

To that, we Catholics would reply (in the words of the previous English edition of the Mass), "It is right to give Him thanks and praise."  So this Thanksgiving, enjoy your day off classes.  Enjoy some turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie (I certainly will!).  Watch a football game if you like, and relax with the family.  Enjoy it.  But in the midst of that, take time to make note of your blessings.  Be aware that these things - including your existence itself - are gifts from God.  And offer prayers of thanks and praise.  

We'll see you back here next week!

Pax Christi,

WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

No comments: