8-9 BISHOP CHALLENGES FAITHFUL TO FIGHT FOR LAWS THAT DEFEND HUMAN LIFE AT ANNUAL RESPECT LIFE MASS NOVEMBER 23, 2017 SUSSEX PASSAIC THE AWARD-WINNING NEWSPAPER OF THE R.C. DIOCESE OF PATERSON, N.J. MORRIS ike the pilgrims who gathered with their neighbors at Plymouth Rock after their ﬁrst successful harvest in 1621, the early American colo-nists celebrated days of thanks-giving. When a drought ended or a war won, they would set aside a day to give thanks for the favorable outcome. For ex-ample, after the victory over British forces in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, the Continental Congress declared a Thanksgiving holiday. The 13 original colonies stopped their ordinary routine in order “to ac-knowledge with gratitude their obligation to [Almighty God] for beneﬁts received, and to im-plore … farther blessings …” Two years after the signing of the Constitution of the United States, on Sept. 28, 1789, Congress formally asked President George Washington to name a nation-al day of thanksgiving. It was Elias Boudinot, a states-man from New Jersey, who introduced the resolution for this ﬁrst national Thanksgiving Day. It was to be observed as a day of prayer “… acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.” Wasting no time, ﬁve days after receiving Congress’ resolution, Washington designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as that day of thanks for the blessings which God bestowed on our country. The tradition of cele-brating such a day of thanks continued after that ﬁrst national holiday. But, not all the states observed their T hanksgiving: L ife to the Fullest DO NOT DELAY TIME SENSITIVE NEWS Thanksgiving on the same day. In the midst of the bloodshed of the civil war, President Lincoln harkened back to the example of the nation’s ﬁrst president. However, he de-clared not one, but two Thanksgiving celebrations. The ﬁrst was on Thursday, Aug. 6, 1863 to commemorate the Union’s victory at Gettysburg. The second was a nationwide holiday, to be observed on the last Thursday of every November “as a day of Thanksgiving BISHOP ARTHUR and Praise to our beneﬁcent Father J. SERRATELLI who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Eventually, President Roosevelt standardized the celebration of Thanksgiving. On Dec. 26, 1941, he established the fourth Thursday in November as the Thanksgiving Day holiday for the entire country. Thanksgiving is in the life blood of America. From the very birth of our nation until today, Americans have set aside a day to express their gratitude to God for his goodness to us. As our ﬁrst President so wisely proclaimed, “… it is the duty of all Nations to acknowl-edge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his beneﬁts, and humbly to implore his protection and favor …” On a natural level, an attitude of gratitude contrib-utes to our mental health. Our consumer culture fos-ters the illusion that the more things we possess, the greater will be our happiness. But, the drive to have more and more things only makes us rest-less. It cannot make us happy. However, gratitude for what we do have actually improves our well-being. It helps us enjoy our lives and form strong relation-ships with others. If we are not grateful, then, no matter how much we have, we will not be happy. We will always want to have something more. In truth, there is nothing that we possess that has not come from the generous hands of God. There is nothing that we have earned or merited except by the wise disposition of God’s providence. When we thank God for his blessings, we acknowledge him as the source of all that is good. Such gratitude places us in the right relationship with God. As the Psalmist reminds us, “Those who offer a sacriﬁce of thanksgiving honor me” (Ps 50:23). Each year we pause as a nation to celebrate Thanksgiving. We take count of our many blessings. Freedom. Family. Friends and Faith. Sorrows and hardships touch all our lives. Yet, each of us has ma-ny reasons to be thankful. As followers of Jesus, we heed the encouragement of St. Paul to “pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Th 5:16-17). For a grateful heart turns even the simplest meal into a feast and makes us live in peace with our neighbors. Thanksgiving is not just a day. It is the way to live life to the fullest. As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, grateful for God’s gifts, I thank God for you — the faith-ful, religious and clergy of our diocese. Your faith and your charity are a blessing to your families, your friends and those in need. May God bless you always with a generous heart and keep your families united in love.