THANKSGIVING ENCYCLICAL 2010
“We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your Name is near.”
– Psalm 75:1
Beloved in the Lord,
Because I will be on a pilgrimage to Constantinople and Rome over the Thanksgiving holiday, I will not be able to share in the joy of the holiday with you personally. I will extend your prayers and respectful wishes to our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew while in Constantinople and our fraternal greetings to Pope Benedict XVI while in Rome. And throughout my journey I shall remember you in prayer and give thanks to the Almighty God for all that you offer to our Holy Metropolis and Archdiocese throughout the year.
The Thanksgiving Holiday has become an important celebration of family in our country. Family members will often travel thousands of miles to share the feast and, most importantly, to thank our Lord for the many gifts He bestows upon us daily. We will go to great lengths and expense to share our unity and love for one another as a family for just a few days or even just our Thanksgiving Dinner. We will go into our storage areas to pull out the extensions to our tables in order to fit everyone at the festal table.
As members of the Body of Christ, the Church – our concept of family – transcends our immediate relatives, and thus we want to expand our tables to their fullest length so that we can extend Thanksgiving invitations to our friends and neighbors, to those unable to travel, or to those who are alone. The Lord has blessed us abundantly and in thanksgiving we share our abundance with others.
Thanksgiving Day is also a time to observe many family traditions, from the meal we prepare, how we pray at the table, the stories we tell, to how we spend the day together. These customs connect us to one another, to our past and, as we hand them to the next generation, to our future. Use the holiday to share these family practices, to share the stories of our forebears, and to express our hopes and dreams for the future.
Lost amid all the preparations and the family gathering itself is the act of offering thanks. It is not an empty gesture before consuming a feast. The act of thanksgiving, perhaps, is a supreme mark of our humanity. To be able to give thanks to God and one another is a uniquely human activity. But to give thanks is also a holy and sanctifying act, one of the actions of our worship. By bowing our heads and offering a prayer to God, we acknowledge our dependence on Him and that all we have is His gift to us, given out of His immense love for us.
On this special holiday, I pray that you will open your hearts and arms, embracing one another in this Divine Love, giving thanks to Him always.
With Love in Christ,
G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco