‘Thanksgiving’ in Religious Traditions

As the secular calendar year approaches the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded of the simple blessings we enjoy.  Regardless of whatever faith one may hold (if any faith at all), participating in both the act and event of ‘Thanksgiving’ seems to be a shared human value.  Differing faith traditions may interpret blessings in particular ways, but the fundamental recognition of objects and events as having value nevertheless underlies each tradition.  We, as participants in the Jesuit-Catholic tradition of understanding, have a unique Christian understanding that gives fuller meaning to basic human values – particularly keeping in mind those who do not enjoy the blessings for which many of us can give thanks for having.  We are reminded particularly of the poor and destitute – both in material and spiritual goods.  This particular and unique Christian understanding, however, does not preclude from recognizing and sharing in the basic shared values as interpreted by other faith traditions.  In fact, the Catholic-Christian tradition can come to a better understanding of itself by participating in the celebration of shared basic human values with other faith traditions.

This Thursday, November 17th from 12:00-1:30pm in the Heights Room, several university offices will join the movement of ‘Spread the Bread’ in the Multi-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration: “For This I am Grateful”.  The description is as follows:

“A joyful, multi-faith celebration of song, reflection, and prayer. As part of our celebration, we are partnering with “Spread the Bread” to assist needy families during the Thanksgiving season. Please consider joining us by baking or purchasing a gift of bread or other baked goods to be collected at the celebration. For those unable to bake, an opportunity to make a donation will also be available.

The celebration will be followed by a light buffet lunch.”

Moreover, the Catholic tradition of Thanksgiving draws its greatest meaning from the Eucharist.  Indeed, ‘Eucharist’ means literally ‘to give thanks’.  In this way we are reminded of the ever-living act of Thanksgiving we are gifted by the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ and maintained through the Sacramental life of the Church.  The centrality of such ‘thanksgiving’ has taken such a deep hold of Catholic piety that the practice of ‘Eucharistic Adoration’ has become constitutive to practicing both the act and event of thanksgiving and gratitude.

This Thursday, November 17th at 5:30 in the Heights Room, Rev. Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin from the Theology Department at Catholic University of America will speak on the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity if you are seeking a deeper and richer meaning of what it is to be ‘thankful’ in the Catholic tradition – a tradition that seeks to inform and enrich every corner of this university.


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