Thanksgiving Thoughts

On 11/26/2009, in Catholic, Opinion, by Tom Voiland

The Genesis of Thanksgiving

America’s Thanksgiving celebration occurs every year, the fourth Thursday in November.  Based on your understanding of history and to what Christian denomination you belong, you’d be surprised to understand exactly when the first Thanksgiving occurred, who was involved, and whom the first thanksgivers were thanking.

The first Thanksgiving occurred in and around present day El Paso, Texas twenty-three years prior to the celebration at Plymouth that is given the official seal of the inaugural Thanksgiving.  The first celebration was by Spanish explorers led by a Franciscan priest who were claiming this new kingdom for Christ and the Catholic Church.  And the focus of their thanks was Christ – more specifically the Mass and Eucharist – the ultimate spiritual nourishment, and the foremost “meal” for any human being which was partaken of before the earthly food they ate that leads to nothing more than bodily nourishment.

I am in no way attempting to diminish the Pilgrim’s celebration and our country’s ties to that seminal event mainly because the focus of that Thanksgiving was also Christ, the overriding rationale for this post.  See the following excerpt and links to explain America’s Thanksgiving heritage.

 On January 26, 1598, a Spanish expedition set out from Mexico with the aim of founding a new kingdom. Three months later, after a long, dangerous trek forging a new trail northward, the now famous El Camino Real [The Royal Road], it crossed the Rio Grande and set up camp south of present day El Paso, Texas. On April 30, a Mass of thanksgiving was said, and the valiant leader of the expedition. Don Juan de Oñate, took formal possession of the new land, called New Mexico, in the name of the Heavenly Lord, God Almighty, and the earthly lord King Philip II.

Then, after the Mass, the Franciscan priests blessed the food on tables abundant with fish, ducks and geese, and the 600-strong expedition of soldiers and colonists feasted. The celebration ended with a play enacting scenes of the native Indians hearing the first words of the Catholic Faith and receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. 

Therefore, the Mass, feast, and other celebrations of the Spanish Franciscan missionaries and members of Don Juan de Oñate’s expedition in 1598 is more authentically our first Thanksgiving than the one in 1621 at Plymouth Rock, which took place 23 years later.

The Secularization of Thanksgiving

But like so many other American institutions that owe their beginnings to the Christians that founded and lead our country until the disaster we call the 1960’s (liberals Garden of Eden), Thanksgiving is now promoted by the mainstream media, academia and all other secular progressives as a day to “simply” give thanks.  And like the giant expanse of nothingness that liberalism has as its boundaries and foundation, and like most secular progressives’ rationale for their ideological goals, it escapes most of us Conservatives as to what they want us to give thanks for?

It’s intuitively obvious that liberals want us to give thanks for good things; each other, for our health, for mother Earth, etc. and that’s all well and good, with one huge exception.  The entire focus of Thanksgiving should be on our heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ of whom and by whom all these other things exist.  But again, like so much else that liberals have poisoned, secular progressivism does not want us to ascribe “anything” to the Supreme Being mainly because liberals do not want to be held accountable by anyone who is ultimately in control – of which Christ is.  Liberals live with no boundaries with only themselves to thank because as their core belief, “man” is ultimately in control.

What We Should Give Thanks For

Look, obviously we should utilize Thanksgiving Day, a time when families gather together to catch up, talk about the good times and simply love one another, to give thanks for each other, our good fortunes, the food we eat, etc.  But above and before this, we should remember to thank God our Father for sending his only Son to us, and Christ for not only subjecting Himself to becoming human which was bad enough, but for dying a horrendous and humiliating death on our behalf, something He did not have to do.  And all this after being rejected by His own people (his children, remember Christ was fully God) and abandoned by His best friends – even His Father – when He needed them most.  What other act of love could we compare this to throughout the history of man?  NOTHING.

My seperated Christian brothers and sisters tend to look past this ultimate sacrifice and gift of love to Christ’s resurrection which is the key to our ultimate salvation.  But I believe our Thanksgiving should focus on Christ’s complete and selfless giving of Himself on our behalf right until His last breath.  To all, a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, especially you Jesus; my big brother and best friend.


41 Responses to “Thanksgiving Thoughts”

  1. Patrick Nolan says:



    Through out the history of the Spanish explorers, the Catholic Mass was how they claimed the land, not for the King of their country but for the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. They landed in what is now St, Augustine and brought Christianity to the native people of this great land. It was through their actions, and their reverence of the Mass that the Native Indians came to respect Jesus,

    Keep up this great word and understanding of our Christian Faith

    Your Brother In HIS Arms


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