Chapel of the Immaculate Conception

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Brad Seligmann, Campus Minister for Interfaith Engagement

This week we celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, a tradition going back to 1863. There are many ways different
cultures and religions set aside time for giving thanks. It can come in a common expression, or a form of worship. For many Muslims, if you ask how they are doing their response may include “Alhamdulillah,” or “With thanks to God.” In many
Christian worship services there is a moment when the minister or congregation proclaims “it is right to give our thanks and praise.” Psychologists have found that an “attitude of gratitude” is associated with increased happiness and optimism.

But what of our national holiday? Our American tradition ofThanksgiving goes back to the fall of 1863, during the darkest days of the Civil War. It was hardly a time to expect thankfulness. The conflict had dragged on for two long years, with no end in sight. It would take the lives of more Americans than any other war in our nation’s history. Yet even in that darkest hour, President Lincoln declared that the nation should hold “a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Despite the trauma of war, there were still things for which the nation should give thanks: The harvest had come in, commerce continued, people were married, children were born. We have continued that practice every year since. In these politically divisive times, I like to think back to that first Thanksgiving. In spite of all that surrounds us today, what do we have to be thankful for?

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