Sunday 20th April 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

America’s Public Prayer . . . The Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 28, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON

Thanksgiving is the time when America’s religious roots and traditions are publicly displayed. While we think of feasting at tables filled with food and drink, and imagine the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony inviting neighboring Indians to join them to celebrate a plentiful harvest, Thanksgiving Day has a much more religious meaning. It was not uncommon in the 17th and 18th centuries for individual colonies to set aside days for prayers of gratitude to our Lord.
In 1671, the governing council of Charlestown, Mass., proclaimed June 29 “as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such His Goodness and Favor.” Annually from 1777 through 1784, as the American colonists fought for their independence, the Continental Congress issued proclamations each fall, calling for days of “public thanksgiving and praise” and “humble supplication” to Almighty God for His beneficence and mercies.
Gen. George Washington, in turn, acted to ensure that the troops would observe those days of prayer. In his General Orders of November 30, 1777, he stated that “Thursday the 18th day of December next be set apart for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; that at one time, and with one voice, the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that, together with their sincere acknowledgements and offerings they may join the penitent confession of their sins; and supplications for such further blessings as they stand in need of.”
Similar declarations followed. In 1789, the first year of his presidency, Washington designated Thursday, November 26 as a day for “prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations” both in thanksgiving for his “signal and manifold mercies” and to request Him to “pardon our national and other transgressions.” President James Madison proclaimed days of prayer and fasting three times during the War of 1812, first to request God’s assistance and then to thank Him for a successful outcome.
During the Civil War, the Union and Confederate Congresses both called for days of thanksgiving, with Presidents Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln issuing proclamations for military victories. On October 3, 1863, Lincoln urged that the last Thursday of November be observed “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” for His “singular deliverances and blessings” and “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.”
The date for Thanksgiving was not fixed, but left to the president to designate. Since Lincoln selected the last Thursday in November, however, this date became the tradition for succeeding presidents. In 1939, as the effects of the Depression lingered and with five Thursdays in that November, President Franklin Roosevelt, responding to a request from business leaders for more shopping days before Christmas, selected the next to last Thursday as Thanksgiving. There was significant public umbrage as Roosevelt kept it as this earlier date for the next two years.
In 1941, Congress enacted that the holiday would be celebrated, as it currently is, on the fourth Thursday of November. In spite of commercial concerns for moving the date, Roosevelt kept the purpose of Thanksgiving in mind. In 1942, he called on the American people to observe both Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day “in prayer, publicly and privately.” The following year, in “gratitude to Almighty God,” he requested “a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas.”
The tradition of a national declaration of gratitude to God has continued, with every president since Lincoln issuing a proclamation annually. In 1953, President Eisenhower requested that “all of us” gather on Thanksgiving Day in “our respective places of worship and bow before God in contrition for our sins, in suppliance for wisdom in our striving for a better world, and in gratitude for the manifold blessings He has bestowed upon us and upon our fellow men.”
President Ronald Reagan in 1984 urged: “Let us pause from our many activities to give thanks to almighty God for our bountiful harvests and abundant freedoms. Let us call upon Him for continued guidance and assistance in all our endeavors. And let us ever be mindful of the faith and spiritual values that have made our Nation great and that alone can keep us great.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush wrote: “We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God.” Four years later, he stated: “Let us all give thanks to God who blessed our Nation’s first days and who blesses us today. May He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country always.”
President Barack Obama has continued the tradition, at least perfunctorily. Although in his proclamations he frequently has referred to the gratitude of the Pilgrims to the Wampanoag Indians, last year he wrote that we should be “mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.”
While these public prayers have been called proclamations of thanksgiving, they have expressed much more than gratitude over the years. As all prayers, they have been used to petition God for assistance, to thank Him for His mercy and abundance, to atone for our personal and national sins, and to praise Him as the “Lord and Ruler of Nations.” These declarations are an overt recognition that while America has a government that neither promotes nor prohibits the free exercise of religion, belief in God is an integral part of the nation’s history, culture, and society.
In spite of continuing efforts to remove any reference to God from our public conscience — from our coinage, the Pledge of Allegiance, our schools – the dispositions and traditions of the American people still reflect a religious, indeed a Christian, ethos within which political leaders must govern if they are to achieve their personal aspirations. As long as the people as a whole have not rejected all public reference to God nor abandoned religious practices, and if principles based on religious teachings continue to regulate their societal behavior, it will be possible to maintain a spirit of virtue to advance the well-being of the nation and its populace.
On November 28, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It will be a day marked by parades with marching bands, floats, and balloons, by football games from morning until late evening, by amounts of food and drink that surpass our capacity to consume, and by the beginning of a month-long marketing blitz seeking our consumer dollar.
While we enjoy the camaraderie and festivities of the day, do not forget its central purpose – to thank God for His innumerable blessings on us, our families, and our nation. What an expression of faith it would be if everyone could begin the day with an act of recognition of God, say more than a superficial prayer, and perhaps, just perhaps, decline that extra piece of pie.

+    +    +

(Lawrence P. Grayson is a visiting scholar in The School of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin

By Michael Terheyden 4/18/2014 Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) So when we look upon the crucified Christ today, let us take a long, hard look at the sin which resides in our heart and in our world. Let us then cast it aside and…Continue Reading

Roman Catholic bishops from England and Wales call for Church to allow priests to marry

JONATHAN BROWN  Thursday 17 April 2014 Roman Catholic bishops have called for the Church to take the historic step of allowing priests to be married amid growing signs of liberal reform under Pope Francis. The controversial issue is set to…Continue Reading

">Radical abortion bill dies in Colo. Senate after call to prayer, action

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2014 / 09:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the…Continue Reading

Catholic Priest Creates Arabic App to Support Persecuted Christians

BY MORGAN LEE , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER April 16, 2014|11:13 pm A self-described Italian “technologic” priest has launched an Arab language version of his Catholic app that he hopes will support Christians in heavily persecuted Middle Eastern countries where printed breviaries are banned.…Continue Reading

Denver Archbishop Rallies Coloradans Against ‘Extreme’ Abortion Bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2014 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Denver on April 15 rallied opposition to a Colorado bill he says is “both extreme and dangerously ambiguous” in its ban on all abortion regulations and other…Continue Reading

CATHOLIC PARENTS BEG MASS. DCF TO LET THEIR HOSTAGE DAUGHTER CELEBRATE EASTER, FILE ‘HABEAS CORPUS’ MOTION

By: Raquel Okyay 4/16/2014 08:41 AM Parents of the ailing Connecticut teen held captive by Massachusetts authorities for more than a year are pleading with the bureaucrat captors to let them celebrate Holy Week and Easter with their daughter, whose health…Continue Reading

Common Core stirs controversy for Catholic schools

By Peter Doocy Published April 15, 2014 FoxNews.com Classrooms at some Catholic schools are undergoing a transformation, as decades-old traditions are being updated with Common Core state standards. Although the standards are not federally mandated for Catholic schools, dozens of dioceses…Continue Reading

Catholic League’s Donohue: Church’s Pedophilia Crisis Is Over

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 06:14 PM By Bill Hoffmann The Catholic Church has far less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors than other major institutions, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil…Continue Reading

Catholic Malta Legalizes Same-sex Civil Unions

Staunchly Catholic Malta has legalized same-sex civil unions and has given gay couples the right to adopt children. The vote comes nearly three years after the Mediterranean island nation legalized divorce. The Maltese parliament legalized same-sex unions and gay adoption…Continue Reading

Remembering Terri Schiavo:

April 13, 2014 Remembering Terri Schiavo: Bobby Schindler comments on Pope Francis, Bishop Robert Lynch, and working on behalf of the severely disabled By Matt C. Abbott The following is an email interview I recently conducted with Bobby Schindler, brother of…Continue Reading

Parents Protest Speaker’s Talk On Morality At Another Catholic High School

For the 2nd time in recent weeks, parents of students at a Catholic high school are protesting that a speaker’s presentation on Catholic morality was harsh and insensitive. Parents of students at the Prout School in Rhode Island have expressed…Continue Reading

‘Pay for it yourself’: Canadian Catholics fighting renewed push for single publicly funded school system

Sarah Boesveld | April 12, 2014 When Leonard Baak’s son hit kindergarten age, his local public school in Stittsville, Ont., was so full it couldn’t even add any portables. So all the other parents in his neighbourhood did the natural thing and…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Jesus Is Placed In His Tomb . . .

Prayer for Holy Saturday

jesustomb

“May our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who alone by His powerful word governs all things, yet has buried the shame of the Cross and iron bonds, who has broken the bars of the bronze doors and has descended into hell, who has shone with the brightness of a new light on those who were sitting in the shadow of death, may He, the sun of justice, rising from the tomb, shine upon our darkness with the marvelous light of his risen Body.” Father: The women sitting at the sepulchre Family: were weeping and lamenting for the Lord. Father: Let us pray. O God, who makes this most holy night illustrious by the glory of the resurrection of our Lord, preserve in the new children of your family the spirit of adoption which You have given, that, renewed in body and soul, they may give You a pure service. This we ask of You through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. Family: Amen. Father: Let us bless the Lord. Family: Thanks be to God. Father: May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless and keep us. Family: Amen.

Pope Francis . . .

Pope Francis: In The Cross We See The Monstrosity Of Man And Greatness Of God’s Mercy

pope271

2014-04-19 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) “In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God’s mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to His mercy”. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ brief unscripted address Friday…Continue Reading

Featured Today

After Calls To Prayer, Action . . . Radical Abortion Bill Dies In Colorado Senate

By KEVIN JONES DENVER (CNA/EWTN News) — Amid growing protests led in large part by the Catholic Church, the Colorado Senate on Wednesday, April 16 killed a controversial bill that could have banned all pro-life laws in the state. “Lift up your hearts in gratitude to God,” said Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila in a post…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary… Devotion To The Sacred Heart: How It Began

By DONAL FOLEY Part 1 This is the first article in a series of three concerned with the Sacred Heart Devotion. The origins of this devotion, which has proved so fruitful for the Church, go right back to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. In chapter 19 of St. John’s Gospel, we read of what…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “NSSM-200: Blueprint For World Depopulation”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of National Security Study Memorandum 200 and a detailed report on the document, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +    +    + The National Security Council is the highest decision-making body in our…Continue Reading

Politically Correct Hypocrisy On Parade

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I have met liberal Democrats who insist that the inclusion of liberal Democrats Alan Colmes and Bob Beckel on the Fox News Network cannot be taken as proof that the network is, as advertised, “fair and balanced.” They insist that Beckel and Colmes are chosen to make liberals look bad, as…Continue Reading

Rome Media Symposium . . . Shine The Light Of True Religious Liberty

By ALAN SEARS (Editor’s Note: Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom [www.adfmedia.org], offered the following welcoming remarks to those attending the ADF’s March 24-27 Catholic Media Symposium in Rome. Raymond Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, also spoke at the event.) +    +    + Good evening friends. It is an honor to…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I read every issue of The Wanderer, including the reports on the lives of the saints by Carole Breslin, which I find to be most interesting. Do you know if the Catholic heroes of which she writes are published in a book? If so, I would like to have two copies. — R.D., Pennsylvania. A. Carole Breslin’s biographical sketches…Continue Reading

Rich In Mercy

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Divine Mercy Sunday (YR A) Readings: Acts 2:42-47 1 Peter 3:1-9 John 20:19-31 In the second reading today St. Peter praises God who, in His mercy, has given us a new birth to a living hope from the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world as the expiation for…Continue Reading

Pope Benedict … On Wisdom

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s new catechetical series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, given during his weekly general audience on April 9. Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning! We begin today a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know that the Holy Spirit constitutes the soul,…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Parents Must Teach Chastity As Does Pope Francis

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Recently Pope Francis urged chastity for prevention of HIV as Pope Benedict was also known to do, and, as a result of which, opprobrium and vituperation were rained down upon him. The two Vicars of Christ agree in this matter because the teaching comes not from men nor from them but from God. The chastity…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Adalbert

By CAROLE BRESLIN We will all die as a result of original sin — and we will be judged at the time of our death. There are two judgments that we will face after we end our existence on this earth. First, we will face the particular judgment at the time of our death, where we will then go to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bernadette Soubirous

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of mankind, God has chosen the lesser person to be His messenger, prophet, or king. He chose, Moses, the stutterer, to lead the Jewish people out of the slavery of the Egyptians. He chose Ruth, the pagan Moabite, to be an ancestor of Jesus. He chose King David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, to…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading