Pray with Today's Saint

Thanksgiving

11/23/2017

The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is not a liturgical celebration, nor is it on the Church calendar, but there are significant parallels between this holiday and the Catholic Mass.

The word “Eucharist”—a term that describes both the Mass itself, and the consecrated body and blood of Christ in Communion—literally translates to “thanksgiving.” In a way, Christians have been celebrating thanksgiving every day for 2,000 years.

It is no coincidence that both the holiday today and the Mass involve a meal. Sharing a meal might not be the first association we make when we think of going to Mass, but at its heart, liturgy gathers people together around the Lord’s table.

There are other parallels between the Mass and the Thanksgiving feast we celebrate today. In both cases, people gather from far and wide to share community together and to build bonds of connection with one another. One significant way this happens is by telling stories from our shared past—at Thanksgiving we reminisce about family lore over a glass of wine, and at Mass we read from the Scriptures to remember what happened to those who went before us in the journey of faith. Both Thanksgiving and the Mass send us back to our lives and into the world emboldened in our identity as members of the same family.

In the Gospel, when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and when he gathers with his disciples at the Last Supper, he makes four key movements: he takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it, and shares it. The same pattern happens at Mass—the bread and the wine are taken, blessed, broken or poured, and shared. So are we who gather to celebrate together--we are taken from our homes and our places in the world, and we are blessed by approaching God together in prayer. We are broken when we prayerfully join Jesus’ gift of himself in love on the cross. We are shared with the world when we are sent forth from Mass to display the love of Christ in our neighborhoods and families.

When we gather with family and friends today, let us attend to the ways that we are taken, blessed, broken, and shared with one another. Let us give thanks for the gift of God’s presence among us in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the love we share with those around our table. And let us remember to extend our fellowship and love to those who have no table or community to gather around.

If you are in need of a Thanksgiving prayer to share at your table today, you can find several from Notre Dame to share from our prayer card site—browse them here.

This Thanksgiving—and at every Mass—let us gather in thanks and share our love with those who need it most!