This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada which gives people a great excuse to indulge in turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie! Living here in the UK for many years I usually forget this holiday until an email comes from home asking how our celebration has been!
The Canadian Thanksgiving differs from the November American holiday because there is no connection to the Mayfair Pilgrims. Rather this Thanksgiving developed from the harvest of crops and gardens during the autumn linking it closely with the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. It is also a time of celebrating other blessings from the past year and provides an opportunity for families to gather together around the table (or a collection of assorted tables!). Some would see its origins as a liturgical festival and although today people may not name it as such there are still connections with our liturgical faith life.
We gather together, we bring forward our gifts, we give thanks to God for the present experience and past blessings and we eat a rich feast…Eucharist means Thanksgiving.
In the RCIA we have an opportunity to invite people to this feast and festival, to make room for them at the table, to share our hopes and stories with them, to gather them into our Christian family.
From the moment someone enquires we can begin to give thanks that God has been actively calling both the person and ourselves to be open to this new journey. Throughout the Catechumenate we give thanks for the moments of shared experiences as people go deeper into their reflections and understanding. In the period of Purification and Enlightenment we stop to listen and give thanks for this time of prayer and at the Easter Vigil we give thanks for those who have joined us through Baptism and the sacraments. During the Easter season we give thanks especially for the early faith example set by those who were also on a journey of discovery and thanksgiving.
God of yesterday, today and tomorrow,
God of seedtime and harvest,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
bless us and strengthen us
to live and blossom and bear good fruit
to God’s praise and glory.
From 600 Blessings and Prayers from around the world