At 9:30 a.m. Thursday, parishioners will fill the pews of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church at 31 Elm St. in Cooperstown. What brings them will not be a holyday of obligation like Catholics observe on All Hallows Day, Christmas and The Ascension. They will assemble freely and with anticipation. They will hear the presidential proclamation that declares Nov. 22 an official Day of Thanksgiving in the United States.
What makes Thanksgiving the favorite holiday for so many of us? Is it because Thanksgiving has no mounting hoopla, no countdown days, no rush, no need to shop and drop? Four "T-words" make this holiday"¦ travel, table and turkey. The fourth "T" is thank.
In 1987, Eugene McCarthy observed in his memoirs "Up 'Til Now," we are overfed, overtransported, overfueled, overheated, overcooked, overlighted, overdrugged, overadvertised, overbureaucratized, overincorporated, overdefensed. The late senator from Minnesota changed our political landscape. Our Thanksgiving holiday is undernoticed, underappreciated, undercelebrated and undervalued. We need a Thanksgiving holiday now more than ever.
Consumerism: At the Heart of our Ills
Consumerism is a way of life. Consumerism is suffocating our spirits. Consumerism isolates individuals and fragments society. Consumerism has infiltrated modern medicine, modern education, politics and even worship. Consumerism puts me and my needs and wants at the center of all. Government, school and church are there to serve my needs, my desires, my wishes.
The days that usher us to Christmas will be highjacked by holiday consumerism. "Black Friday" will be a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving itself. Before Thanksgiving we hear the lament that holiday spending will increase only 4.5 percent this year. I was trained as an economist "¦ remember the macro formula GNP=C+I+G+Z! A 4.5 percent delta increase in consumer spending (C=Personal Consumption) is not cause for wailing. 'Tis the season for catalogues, gift cards, Internet shopping, mall visits and spiritual exhaustion.
Turn off the football games; put off that trip to the mall; set aside the Christmas decorations. Don't think about trees, cards, presents, cookies and candles. Anticipate Advent. Use Advent to prepare to meet Jesus anew at Christmas.
A Thanksgiving Gift
I invite you to join us Thanksgiving morning for the Eucharist at 9:30 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Cooperstown. You will go home with wine and bread in hand. Our St. Mary's tradition is to give everyone who worships with us Thanksgiving morning a bottle of wine and a bread loaf to share at their meal later in the day. Our only requirement is "Think to Thank."
Let us pray:
Gracious God, you who supply your people with every blessing in abundance, lift up our hearts in gratitude and thanksgiving this day. Help us to thank you for the gifts we seldom notice, to praise you for the bounty we often take for granted, and to glorify your name for how you have watched over us through another year of seedtime and of harvest. For all that you have done, for all that you are, and for all that you will ever do, we lift up our voices in praise to You. Hear our prayer and help us to live as ones with eternally grateful hearts _ we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
The Rev. John P. Rosson is pastor of St. Mary's Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown.