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Freedom-from-Want_Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

Published in the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post

The fourth Thursday of November in the United States is a day set aside to thank God for His many blessings on our nation. The first National Day of Thanksgiving was in 1789. Here is a portion of the text of the declaration signed by George Washington:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.

Unfortunately, for many in our society, Thanksgiving Day is nothing more than a day off from work, devoted to overeating and watching football on TV. We have forgotten to thank the One who has given us these bountiful blessings. We have forgotten the neglected, the down trodden, and broken members of our society. We are a divided nation. Our moto, One Nation Under God, is sadly no longer important to most who live in the great land. George Washington was well aware of the shortcomings of our nation when he further declared:

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions.

Some may be alone this Thanksgiving or unable to be with the family they love and cherish. Remember these individuals in your prayers and if at all possible, invite them to your family Thanksgiving celebration.

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. Psalm 7:17

Thanksgiving became a yearly national holiday in 1863, with our country torn apart by the issue of slavery. In the midst of battle, then President Abraham Lincoln made this proclamation:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In an address on prayer, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave this insight into the essence of prayerful thanksgiving.

Our prayers are very often requests for help in a time of need. Moreover, this is normal for men and women because we need help, we need others, we need God….

There is also cause for thanksgiving and if we pay a little attention we see that we receive very many good things from God. He is so good to us that it is right and necessary to say “thank you.” And our prayer should also be a prayer of praise: if our hearts are open in spite of all the problems we also see the beauty of his creation, the goodness that is revealed in his creation. Therefore we must not only ask but also praise and give thanks, only in this way is our prayer complete. General Audience June 20, 2012

This Thanksgiving, your family will be in our prayers. We are thankful for the blessings of marriage and our family. We are thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed on us. We wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving!