The last few years have been very contentious in our country. On this Thanksgiving Day, let us strive to look past what separates us. I find President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation (full text below), given in the midst of the bloodiest and most divided time in our national history, a fitting reminder and reflection of what we must do this day:
I recommend […] that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore itAbraham Lincoln, Proclamation of Thanksgiving (1863)
The preface at Mass today similarly reminds us of the great gifts our Heavenly Father has given to us, and the great responsibility we have as a result of these gifts.
You have entrusted to usPreface for Thanksgiving Day (USA)
the great gift of freedom,
a gift that calls forth
responsibility and commitment
to the truth that all have a fundamental dignity before you.
In Jesus, through his Death and Resurrection,
we find our ultimate redemption,
freedom from sin,
and every blessing.
Today, let us thank God for his great gifts to all of us: the gift of our lives, the gift of our redemption, the gift of our families, friends, and loved ones, the gift of our prosperity as a people sojourning to God. Let us offer him praise in Thanksgiving of the many blessings he gives us daily which we do not perceive, for the sun and the moon and the stars, for the air we breath, for the bountiful harvest of the earth. As we ponder these gifts, let us offer penance for where we have wronged our neighbor and renew our efforts pray for the peace and prosperity of our entire human family.
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. ABRAHAM LINCOLN
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
From Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 6 as found on: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln6/1:698?rgn=div1;view=fulltext