Thanksgiving, nowadays often known irreverently as Turkey Day, is a religious and not a civic holiday, and I don't give a doodly damn if that fact offends those poor demented folks who can't abide the thought that there is a divine entity overseeing mankind's affairs who needs to be thanked for whatever he gives us.
In the idiot culture that abounds in this day and age, an unfortunately large segment of the population celebrates Thanksgiving Day without having any idea of to whom they are giving thanks, if for that matter, they are even saying thank you to anyone.
To those of us who place ourselves and our futures in the hands of a loving God, we don't need a special day to say thank you to him for the blessings he bestows on us. For us, the significance of the holiday is that it is simply a civic recognition of our absolute dependence upon the divine will, even if that knowledge is lost upon many of our fellow Americans.
This somber year, saying thank you for their blessings will seem for many to be a sick joke. With thousands of Americans newly jobless, with the life savings of many severely diminished if not completely wiped out, with their homes in foreclosure or already no longer theirs, and with the future looking more and more like a replay of the grim past of the 1930s, celebrating Thanksgiving Day seems inappropriate.
Yet no matter how many difficulties face us, no matter how hard the nation's financial crisis has hit us, and no matter how uncertain our future, we always have more than a little for which we can be thankful if we'd just stop and think about it.
There's an old saying: "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Count your blessings whatever they are and thank God for them. Are you healthy? Do you have food on the table? Is your family together on this festive day? Forget it if your situation is akin to the one who has no shoes. Thank God that you have feet.
At the root of our problem is a complete lack of understanding of who and what we are, why we are here, and why seemingly bad things happen even to good folks.
We fail to understand because we fail to grasp what Holy Scripture explains in no uncertain terms: We are here to do the will of him who created us. It is our sole and only obligation. How we fulfill it will determine what happens to us after we die.
We are not here to enjoy a life unfettered with difficulties. We are creatures of a creator who made us in his image and likeness, who loves us, and whose sole aim is for us to be united with him for all eternity.
He made us; he put us here; and we are never outside his vision. He knows what we need, and he knows what we don't need. Nothing happens to us that is not his will. Not a sparrow falls without his knowledge and will, Jesus told us, explaining that even every hair on our head is counted.
If we resign ourselves to the divine will and accept everything that happens to us, good or ill, as in accordance with his will, which after all is that we attain eternal salvation, we will find much for which to be thankful. When we say the Lords Prayer we say "fiat voluntas tua — thy will be done." His will, not ours which often leads us into unforeseen difficulties.
I have just learned that I have lymphatic cancer. I understand that it is not some richly deserved chastisement for my many sins, but instead is an instrument of God's will designed to serve his purposes which are always for my ultimate good and for which I say, "fiat voluntas tua."
If I had my druthers, I just as soon forgo the pleasure of learning what having a malignant tumor on my neck is like, and what it's going to lead to, but what the heck do I know? I know Lord that you know what you are doing and that it's for the ultimate good of my soul. So Deo gratias — thank you, Lord.
Anyone who was able to take a step back and observe the direction in which America has been headed in recent years, will recognize that we were headed for a moral abyss. Extreme affluence was eating away at our moral fiber, excesses in pursuit of wealth and its fruits were commonplace and even celebrated. We were accepting as normal the most immoral practices, even celebrating them in public in such moral sewers as the streets of San Francisco.
We were careening toward a precipice beneath which is a new Sodom. It had to come to a stop before we plunged over the edge to find ourselves in a hail of fire and brimstone.
The financial meltdown saved us from an ultimate moral catastrophe. We will now began to regroup.
In doing so, we will rebuild the moral muscle that will enable us to move ahead toward a more certain future where we will be satisfied with less and appreciate more of whatever we have.
And thank God for every bit of it.
Phil Brennan is a veteran investigative journalist who wrote for National Review as Cato in the 1960s and served as a staff aide in Congress and in the United States Marine Corps in World War II. He authored a book on the Shroud of Turin as well as several other works with the late Ralph de Toledano. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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