A Thanksgiving Reflection and Prayer

By Katie Beckmann Mahon, Communications Manager

The Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York, wish you and your families a blessed Thanksgiving.


Today, keep all who are infected or affected by the pandemic, as well as those who serve on the frontlines in your prayers.


Today, have gratitude for the continued progression of an effective and readily available vaccine for everyone.

As the world continues to weather this pandemic together, remember the words of this Thanksgiving reflection and prayer from the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Department of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.


Call to Prayer:

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls us to “ecological conversion.” He writes, “A healthy relationship with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion, which entails the recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures, and leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change. … This conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness. First, it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate [God’s] generosity in self-sacrifice and good works” (218-220).


As the United States celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday, we acknowledge the “errors, sins, faults and failures” that were, and continue to be, perpetrated against Native American peoples, and we pray for healing and unity to be fostered by the gratitude that motivates generous care for the earth and all people.

Reading:

From “Thanksgiving, Hope and the Hidden Heart of Evil,” by Jacqueline Keeler

When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry -- half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger. When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state. He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them. Their English crops had failed. The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food. These were not merely "friendly Indians." They had already experienced European slave traders raiding their villages for a hundred years or so, and they were wary -- but it was their way to give freely to those who had nothing. Among many of our peoples, showing that you can give without holding back is the way to earn respect. Among the Dakota, my father's people, they say, when asked to give, "Are we not Dakota and alive?" It was believed that by giving there would be enough for all -- the exact opposite of the system we live in now, which is based on selling, not giving. In stories told by the Dakota people, an evil person always keeps his or her heart in a secret place separate from the body. The hero must find that secret place and destroy the heart in order to stop the evil. I see, in the "First Thanksgiving" story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism. Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused. Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle. And the healing can begin.

Reflection:

· What words, phrases, or ideas are drawing your attention?

· What can we learn about gratitude from these Native American voices?

· How can reflecting on our “sins and errors” lead us to gratitude and healing?

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