Thursday, November 22, 2018
Thanksgiving Day is a celebration of giving thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year. It is a day of giving thanks to God for his many blessings and expressing our gratitude to friends and family members. It is celebrated in the United States. Thanksgiving Day dates back to the Reformation Period and is accompanied by prayers, special ceremonies, and feasts. Thanksgiving is observed on the fourth Thursday in November each year.
Men have not only prayed in thanksgiving but have offered in thanksgiving: something that was a sign of themselves, to show they were thankful for life, were sorry for their sins against the Giver of life, would give their lives in return, if they might, to the One they owe so much. They made offerings in thanks for the things that sustain life, for the preservation of life. "Abel also offered of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat.”. . "So Noe went out, he and his sons, his wife and the wives of his sons... . all living things went out of the ark. And Noe built an altar unto the Lord: and taking of all cattle and fowl that were dean, offered holocausts upon the altar.... ." They made bloody offerings, because the offering is a symbol of the offerer, and blood is the essence of life. Blood is life. There were other offerings... . . "Melchidesech, the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God, blessed him and said: Blessed be Abram by the most high God, who created heaven and earth.”. . . Because bread maintains life, and wine enhances life. God told them what to sacrifice, and how to sacrifice; but especially He told them to make the sacrifice of the Pasch, because it was a memorial to their freedom and their protection, a memorial of thanksgiving to the God who loved them. ". . . and it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, one year. . . and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening.”. . . "And this day shall be a memorial unto you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord. . . for with a strong hand the Lord hath brought you out of this place." He brought them through water, led them by fire, fed them with manna, and when they sinned against Him, He chastised them and accepted their sacrifices of expiation. He made it part of their Law, their Covenant, that they were to offer sacrifice: of reparation, of petition, of praise, of thanksgiving.
Then Christ came.
When it was time for the thing to happen for which He came, He said to the Apostles: "This is My body, which is being given for you; do this, in remembrance of Me." And He said: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which shall be shed for you." This was the new covenant, the new Pasch. . . "in My blood," He said. From that moment on they were to make sacrifice "in My blood." The offering is a symbol of the offerer. Blood is the essence of life. This is our gift to offer: His Body and Blood, every day. Think of all the things the Redemption accomplished, and do not forget this last: to put into our hands the perfect Gift, the pure Victim — "holy and spotless, the holy bread of everlasting life and the chalice of everlasting salvation." With the sacrifice of Holy Mass, Catholics make their thanksgiving.
Her martyrdom probably occurred during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus, about the year 230. In 1599 her grave was opened, and her body found in a coffin of cypress wood. It lay incorrupt, as if she had just breathed forth her soul. Since the middle Ages, Cecilia has been honored as patroness of Church music. Cecilia led a life of prayer and meditation and had vowed lifelong virginity, but a youth by the name of Valerian, relying upon the approval of her parents, hoped to marry her. When the wedding night arrived, she confided to Valerian, "There is a secret, Valerian, I wish to tell you. I have as a lover an angel of God who jealously guards my body." Valerian promised to believe in Christ if he would be enabled to see that angel. Cecilia explained how such was impossible without baptism, and Valerian consented to be baptized. After he was baptized by Pope Urban and had returned "He found Cecilia in her little room lost in prayer, and next to her the angel of the Lord was standing. When Valerian saw the angel, he was seized with great terror." The angel handed to them a bouquet of fiery red roses and snow-white lilies as a reward for Cecilia's love of chastity, a bouquet that would not wither, yet would be visible only to those who love chastity. As a further favor Valerian besought the conversion of his brother Tiburtius. Upon arriving to congratulate the newlyweds, Tiburtius was astounded by the unspeakably beautiful roses and lilies. As soon as he was informed regarding their origin, he too asked for the waters of baptism. "St. Cecilia said to Tiburtius: Today I acknowledge you as a brother-in-law, because the love of God has made you despise the idols. Just as the love of God gave me your brother as a spouse, so it has given you to me as a brother in-law." When Almachius, the prefect, heard of the conversions, he ordered Maximus, his officer, to arrest and imprison all of them. Before being put to death, they instructed Maximus and his family, and baptized them during the night preceding execution. At dawn Cecilia roused the two brothers to struggle heroically for Christ, as the glow of morning disappeared, Cecilia called: "Arise, soldiers of Christ, throw away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." Cecilia pursued her victory as the soldiers willingly listened, "We believe that Christ is the true Son of God, who has chosen such a servant." Led before the prefect, she professed her faith in Christ, "We profess His holy Name and we will not deny Him."
In order to avoid further show, the prefect commanded her to be suffocated in the baths. She remained unharmed and prayed, "I thank You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ that through Your Son the fire was extinguished at my side." Beheading was next in order. The executioner made three attempts (the law prohibited more) and let her lie in her blood. She lived for three days, encouraging the poor and dedicating her home into a church.
“Let us prepare, then,” encouraged the Pope, to meet our judge with confidence and joyful trust in his promises.”