November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Rant

Wherein I wish to rant about liturgy and charity, which I find annoying and amusing, respectively.

First, liturgy. This morning someone asked me if Thanksgiving were a holy day of obligation. Of course it isn't, but the question reveals how far we have taken the canonization of the civil holiday into the liturgy. The proper preface that the American sacramentary gives for Thanksgiving Day has to be one of the most theologically inadequate liturgical texts ever foisted upon the People of God. I have never used it, and have tried not to even hear it. NLM has a reprint of an article about it by Fr. Thomas Kocik, and its "distinctively American misconstrual of divine election." No thanks for me too. As far as I'm concerned, in both expressions of the Roman rite, tomorrow is the feast of St. Leonard of Port Maurice.

Second, charity. Now I don't mean to make light of the beautiful efforts to feed the hungry that many people make this time of year. I was just over at our high school watching our students distribute a huge amount of food to the vans of charitable organizations that come by each year. Their joy at the experience of doing good gives glory to God. But this business about churches getting into the free turkey business this time of year, I have to say that it cracks me up. People start to show up at the door of the church to "get their turkey" with a spirit similar to the one that brings out the hordes to "get their ashes" or "get their palms." It cracks me up because turkey is actually very cheap as edible proteins go, and not without hazards and pitfalls when it comes to preparation. It's a symbolic thing, I know, a graced transaction that has more depth of meaning than economic need reveals. But it's still amusing to see all of these people consumed with a need to get a free turkey, probably spending more than the turkey would cost on gas as they drive around to different parish offices all day.

In any case, to all who support and encourage me in this ministry, enjoy your Thanksgiving and the feast of St. Leonard, whether you paid the national average of a dollar or so a pound for your turkey, or got it for free. Peace.

8 comments:

Thom Curnutte, S.F.O. said...

Amen.

(If I might add a personal "irk" to your list: the idea espoused by the People of God in the u.s. that the hungry only need eat on Thanksgiving and Christmas, or that soup kitchens only need assistance on those days. May God have mercy.)

pennyante said...

My concern about the Thanksgiving Mass was not with the Sacramentary at all; but with the readings. We have an old Daily Lectionary that had so many options for the readings that it was ridiculous. We looked at the Missalette and saw what the Gospel reading was and discovered this Gospel reading was not even listed in the old Lectionary. Groan...

Maybe if we had a newer Daily Lectionary, we wouldn't have had this problem. But, that's the way it goes.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to holiday-time donors, it does seem that charitable organizations ratched up their appeals for donations around Thanksgiving and Christmas, thereby focusing on this season as the tie when most hungry people are in need.

The other "irk" that i would have in addition to Father Charles' remark about the gas expended to get a free turkey, would be the prospect of those having successfully obtained a free turkey settling down to enjoy it tomorrow while watching football games on their flat screen TVs!

Brother Charles said...

pennyante: There are several days like that wherein the lectionary options are many and it gets hard to use. And we too opt for the solution of the 'dictatorship of the missallette makers.'

pennyante said...

I ended up copying the missalette gospel (the Magnificat reading)from the online New American Bible and putting it in the lectionary for the priest to use. Much easier than putting the missalette on the lectionary.

Hidden One said...

I have a wry smile on account of my realization that American Thanskgiving is today concurrent with the feast of a Saint who delivered a very famous sermon about the fewness of the saved.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: Great post! If only the hordes lined up at the church for salvation as much as they do for the free bird.

What I find interesting about Thanksgiving is that the origins of the holiday are that we, as a Nation, are to give Thanksgiving to God, yet, the day has fallen so far from that (as in some ways have Easter and Christmas) that's it's not a government holiday anymore-much less a religious one. It is truly civic, in a generic sense, in that it's just a day for all of us to eat too much, argue with our family, plan our shopping spree for the day after and watch football.

Qualis Rex said...

As an immigrant to the US, I have always found Thanksgiving to be silly. It's an entire holiday centered around the consumption of a turkey. No bird = invalid Thanksgiving celebration. IMHO everyday should be "thanksgiving", as well as everytime food enters your mouth, regardless of whether or not it is made of poultry.

And yes, I know there are many who will roll their eyes and say I've completely missed the point etc etc etc. But after 15 odd years (yes, very odd) of watching/attending Thanksgiving dinners I think I know from what I speak.