Thanksgiving: A Call to Pray Before Feasting

November 22, 2011 - 3:52 PM

The Thanksgiving tradition began with our early Americans, the English colonists--known as Pilgrims--who were celebrating days of thanks for the success of their first harvest. This was all part of their religion. These were days of mostly prayer, not just days of feasting.

This time of year as the weather turns brisk, the trees begin to lose their last leaves, and travel plans are made to go home and be with loved ones, we can see striking similarities between those who gave us our first Thanksgiving and us today.

No doubt the Pilgrims survived the difficulties of all that came before their first harvest season--bad weather, illness, and sometimes even the death of a loved one. They took risks, stepped out into the unknown, formed relationships with people who were different than themselves and were a great example of hard work, courage, and a real trust in God to provide for their needs.

Like all of us today, they faced sadness, disappointment, stress, and both physical and emotional pain. What they did at that first Thanksgiving provides a great example to all of us that no matter what difficulties we have in our own lives and within our families, in the end we should always remember to thank God first.

By their example they paved the way for those who now embrace the proper order of priority in our own lives: God, family, country. Despite the unpredictable and often painful hardships, they trusted in God's great wisdom for their good, and they thanked God for his assistance, protection and care.

This great tradition lives on!

Americans continue to experience tough times. The heartaches and the pain may be different ones, but the intensity is the same. Whether it is economic hardship, the loss of a loved one through illness or war, or a deep emotional pain, this season can be very difficult.

I know from the loss of my 10-year-old granddaughter, Haley, that when someone special is absent from the Thanksgiving table there is an unspoken wound--one that forever remains unhealed--in the confines of the heart. It changes your entire perspective all together.

But it also beckons within us the involuntary desire to define what is real and true in our existence--the ever present grace and love of God in our lives. Just like back then, he is here today to restore us from our grief, strengthen our resolve, and renew our hearts.

This Turkey Day before we begin our feast, may we, like the early pilgrims, first lift our hearts in praise and thanksgiving for the good in our lives, the future protection of America, and the peace and confidence in knowing that, in our personal loss and pain, while we may not always get what we want as an answer to our prayers, through God's greater wisdom, we get what we need--and that is truly worth celebrating. Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor's note: Collin will be interviewed and will also perform on Thanksgiving Day at 8pm on EWTN's The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.

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