“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
For many Americans, this month’s Thanksgiving holiday has a different connotation than it originally had when the Pilgrims celebrated the very first Thanksgiving. Today many of us associate the holiday with a four day weekend, football games, parades, Black Friday and the start of Christmas shopping, and a big turkey dinner enjoyed with family and friends.
The Thanksgiving holiday started out in 1621 as a means to give thanks to God for a bountiful harvest. After the Mayflower ship arrived at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims lost 46 of their original group of 102 colonists. With the help of Native Americans, the surviving Pilgrims made it through a harsh winter and yielded a great harvest in 1621. To celebrate their thankfulness to God for the bounty they reaped, the Pilgrims held a three day long harvest festival along with the Native Americans.
Take some time to pause and reflect this November as you celebrate Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, seek to experience a heart full of gratitude. In expressing your thankfulness to God, show Him how grateful you are by giving to those who are not as fortunate. Many of us are blessed to have a comfortable place to call home, with a warm bed and food on the table. We realize this especially at Thanksgiving time when we gather with friends and family to enjoy a bountiful feast. There are those among us who have no place to call home, no source of income, and no turkey or pumpkin pie to enjoy in the good company of family and friends. Some of our brothers and sisters are cut off from the outside world because they are elderly and all alone, or because they are in deep emotional pain and feel disconnected from society. Some of our brothers and sisters are incarcerated, and have no reason to believe that they have any hope for the future. Remember these people when you pause to thank God for all that is good in your life.
The members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul give freely of their time in order to help their neighbors, whether they are in need of physical or emotional support. Join them to help provide essentials like hot meals, warm coats or a place to sleep. Support your neighbors who are suffering emotionally or feeling alone by in-home visits or visits to those in prison. A little help goes a long way in giving hope to the hopeless. Show compassion and love to your brothers and sisters in Christ’s family. Demonstrate just how much you appreciate what God has given this Thanksgiving and all year long by helping those who need it most.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”