Thanksgiving is a national Holiday that brings families together to socialize, communicate, connect emotionally, and to enjoy a good hearty meal! On this day we should never forget the primary reason we should render abundant thanksgiving; this is for God, who He is and all that He has so generously bestowed upon all of us from the moment of our conception until our dying breath.
Indeed what do we have that we have not received from His loving and bountiful Providence? Only one thing: our own sins—these we chose due to our own perverse will.
We would like to focus on one crucial gift that should move our hearts to overflow in gratitude not just one day a year but all the days of our lives. This is the sublime gift of the most Holy Eucharist.
Of all the gifts that Jesus left us before He ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father, this gift, this most sublime gift, this ineffable and celestial gift of the goodness of the most Sacred heart of Jesus merits our constant gratitude. In fact the word itself Eucharist actually means “Thanksgiving.”
Let us briefly, in a quiet and contemplative fashion, move through the various moments where we should recognize the gift of the Eucharist, adore this “Real Presence” and render abundant and overflowing thanks.
1. Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Let us thank Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because in His loving and providential care He instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. In fact the Last Supper was the first Holy Mass where Jesus instituted the gift of gifts the Holy Eucharist. When and how? When Jesus took bread and wine, blessed and broke and said: “Take and eat this is my Body; take and drink this is my Blood; do this in memory of me.” With these most sacred and profound words Jesus left us until the end of time His “Real Presence” in the Eucharist. For this we wish to thank the good Lord and million times.
2. Holy Orders & the Priesthood. Furthermore, as an extension to the Institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, Jesus willed to perpetuate the Eucharist through the instrumentality of Holy Orders or the Priesthood. Let us thank the Lord Jesus for being our eternal and High priest, but also thank the Lord Jesus for instituting the Sacrament of Holy Orders or the Priesthood. How important it is that we thank the Lord for the priesthood but also to pray for more vocations to the priesthood, as well as for the sanctification and perseverance of priests in their sacred ministry. Saint Augustin calls the priest “Alter Cristus”—another Christ. Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen defines the priest as “The victim who offers the victim.”
3. Consecration. In the context of the celebration of Holy Mass by the priest we should be acutely aware of that most sublime moment of the consecration. When the priest repeats the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper over the bread and wine and elevates both the bread and wine, then Jesus is truly with us. In a certain sense we can even say that this is Christmas—Jesus being born in the hands of the priest. Our attitude should be that of deep gratitude. In silence, during the consecration, our hearts should be lifted on high to praise, adore, worship and thank God for coming down from Heaven to be with us.
4. Holy Communion. It gets better and better!!! Jesus does not want to stay and remain in the hands of the priest. No! Jesus longs to find his abode in the very core of the human person, that is to say, in the heart and soul of the human person through the worthy reception of Holy Communion. While living on earth, there is no more sublime act that a human person can do than to attend Holy Mass devoutly, participate fully, actively and consciously and then to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. This is when heaven comes down to earth and descends into the human person elevating him on high. Indeed we are sons and daughters of God, tabernacles of the most High, and living Icons of God Himself. This is most true when we receive Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion. While Jesus lived on earth people could see Jesus only on occasions and sometimes only from a distance. But now we can see Jesus every day in Holy Mass at the moment of consecration and then receive Him into the very depths of our hearts in Holy Communion. This can be done every day of our lives! How great is our God, but how abundant should be our thanksgiving to such a loving God.
5. The Tabernacle and Monstrance of the Blessed Sacrament. Before ascending into heaven Jesus left us the most consoling words: “Behold I will be with you always even until the end of the world.”(Mt. 28:20) If Jesus indeed did ascend into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father then where is He to be found on earth? The response! In every Catholic Church, after the celebration of Holy Mass, the remaining Hosts are reverently deposited in the Tabernacle; this we call “The Blessed Sacrament”. What is His purpose in being in that Tabernacle? There is a double purpose. First, Eucharistic ministers can take the Lord Jesus to the sick and home-bound so that they can receive Jesus even in their physical infirmity. Second, the consecrated Hosts—the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings—is patiently waiting and longing for His friends to come to pay Him a visit. He rejoices when His friends spend an Hour in His Divine Presence. Archbishop Fulton Sheen calls this “The Hour of Power.” Jesus patiently waits for all men and women of good will to come to visit Him, talk to Him, console Him, adore and worship Him but also to thank Him!
In conclusion, Thanksgiving Day, as a civil Holiday comes once a year. However, for followers of Jesus the Lord, thanksgiving can and should be every day. This is expressed in the most profound and sublime manner by our loving reverence of what happened at the Last Supper, in the person of the priest, in the moment of consecration, in the most sublime of all moments when one receive Holy Communion reverently; finally, this is prolonged in our Eucharistic visits. May Our Lady who said “Yes” to the Lord and the Word of God took flesh within her sacred womb attain for us an eternal attitude of gratitude. May our words be the words of the Psalmist: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”