It’s actually a very apostolic thing to do. After Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed the 5000 the apostles gathered up the leftovers – twelve wicker baskets full. I’m hoping for a haul equally as impressive. Leftovers are a great way to prolong the joy of the holiday.
Although Thanksgiving is a secular holiday it is at the very heart of our Catholic sensibilities. Giving genuine thanks, like having true faith in God, is something that can’t be forced. Nobody can throttle you into being grateful. If it is to be authentic, gratitude must be something you choose for yourself from the bottom of your heart.
So too it is with our faith. As with somebody saying “thank you” when they don’t really mean it, it’s easy to tell when somebody is faking their faith or just going through the motions.
That’s why so often it might seem that God is hiding from us. As St. John of Cross wrote in his Spiritual Canticle, “Where have You hidden Yourself, and abandoned me in my groaning?” God draws back from us because He wants us to seek Him – and to ever more genuinely desire Him.
Philosopher Blaise Pascal once said, “God gives us just the right amount of light. If He gave us less light than He gave us then even those who sought Him would never find him – but if He gave us more light than He gave us, then even those who didn’t seek Him would find Him.” In other words, only those who truly desire God will find Him.
I read an article written by someone who professed to be an atheist. He wrote that Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday – primarily because it is not necessarily a religious holiday. Gratitude is available to anyone, he said, and you don’t need religious faith to give thanks. He claimed, “People who don’t believe in God can be just as thankful as religious folk.”
My question to him would be, “How do you know? If you have never truly sought God how can you be sure that as you gave your heart to Him your gratitude and love would not grow deeper and purer?” In my own life I have found that the more I have sought God the more tested and true my gratitude has become.
Yet I still have a long way to go so my seeking continues. So I hope to prolong the spirit of Thanksgiving never-endingly long after the holiday has passed. May all of our thanksgiving grow deeper and ever more pure.