Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks and Giving

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Credo blog documents earlier Thanksgiving events in our nation's history.

An interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered.

A second similar "Thanksgiving" celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Oñate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving don’t stop there. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving, was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.

Today we're preoccupied with preparing food and feasting. And food is a big story this season, as grocery prices continue to rise and with the economic crisis more people are going to food pantries. Some Los Angeles charities are finding that former donors are now themselves in need of assistance.

In a new survey of 44 charities that provide food, shelter and financial assistance, Catholic Charities USA found that 52% reported an increase in middle-class clients, up from 43% in June.

"I receive a call or two every week from people who have been contributors for years who find themselves unemployed," said Paul Martodam, chief executive of Catholic Charities Community Services in Phoenix. "They feel terrible. They never pictured themselves as being on the receiving side of charity."

These new recipients have added to the Phoenix agency's mounting troubles. In October, its emergency shelter turned away 161 families and its food pantry had to send away 198 families. Meanwhile, 526 families couldn't get help with utility bills, Martodam said.
It's a reminder to stop and put something in the Salvation Army kettle or to pick up some extra cereal and canned goods for the food shelf.

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