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Tis the Season: For Catholic Singles To Give Thanks to God!

November 28, 2011

Read about the real focus of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and how Catholic Singles must guard against feeling isolated or disillusioned this time of year.

This past week, many of us found ourselves greeting our family and friends with the traditional, “Happy Thanksgiving.” Unfortunately, most people do not actually grasp the true meaning behind this hackneyed phrase. What are we conveying to those whom we greet in this manner, the meaning behind the words?

The other day, while I was checking out at the grocery store, the cashier wished me a “Happy Turkey Day.” At first, it caught me off guard, but then I thought to myself, “Is this not what many of us mean when we say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving?’ Has the iconic greeting been reduced to a mere reference to a day when people get together to eat turkey and watch football?” Now don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of both. However, when football and food become the all-important elements of the Thanksgiving Day celebration, we unknowingly fall into the classic reduction of Creator to creation, making temporal goods superior to the One who created them. The irony behind it all is that the countless Americans who celebrate “Thanksgiving” do not know to whom they are even thankful.

In Psalm 100:4, the Scripture exhorts us to “[e]nter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” As Catholics, is this not what we mean when we wish someone a Happy Thanksgiving? Are we not at that moment offering up with them a prayer of thanksgiving for how the Lord has blessed us and will continue to bless us in the years to come? Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the gift of faith and our relation to Christ as members of His Body. We remember what He did for us on the Cross and what He continues to do for us each day. Many of us have so much to be thankful for. Our family, our friends, our faith, and ultimately our lives were all given to us as free gifts. Perhaps the common “Happy Thanksgiving” may be better described as “humble adoration” to the One who gave us everything.

As we enter this holy season of Advent, we must begin to prepare our hearts for what is to come. This spirit of thanksgiving is not celebrated in a day, a month, or even a year. Rather, it extends from each moment to the next, calling us to respond to the many opportunities we have to show our gratitude. Let us not allow our humble adoration to give way to radical consumerism this upcoming Christmas season. As Catholics, we recognize that gifts are but a physical symbol of an even greater spiritual reality: the love we share for one another. Whether we are single or in a dating relationship, we are called to bring this love to others. Without Christ, however, we are unable do so, since He is the embodiment of this love. What better way to recognize the connection between love and Christ than in preparation for His coming into the world? This holiday season, then, is our expression of thanksgiving for life and love, climaxing in the Incarnation, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Of course, the Thanksgiving holiday can also kick off a season of disillusionment and melancholy — even among those devout Catholics who seek to remain focused on the spiritual significance of the season.

When Catholic Singles Struggle Through the Holidays: The Joy of Being Alone With Christ

Although Thanksgiving and the season of Advent is undoubtedly one of the most celebratory periods in the Church’s liturgical year, the reality is that the twin holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a trying time emotionally for even the most steadfast Catholics. Catholic singles — particularly ones that are middle-aged and never married, widowed, or divorced/annulled — can find these holidays to be bittersweet. As devout catholics, these are joyous times for celebration of all that God has given us, as well as the coming of Christ.

But it can also be a time of temptation to feel isolated, lonely, or unfulfilled.

Engage in a bit of self-reflection, however, and it quickly becomes apparent to any Catholic single feeling this way that it is at best a byproduct of secular expectations and pressures about the Christmas holiday, and at worst, an evil temptation to despair at such a wonderful time of the year. The season of Thanksgiving — as well as Advent and Christmas — offers us all the unique opportunity to reflect on all that the Lord has done in our lives. As Catholics, we are called to give thanks in all that we do. Whether we are married, dating, or single, we must recognize God’s guiding hand in our lives — at this time of year more than anytime else. It is He who chooses our vocation and it is our responsibility to respond to His call with total humility.

This advent season, let us all remember the words of Mother Theresa: “Our vocation is the love of Jesus.” In this way, we are never “alone” — just “alone with Christ and the Holy Family.”

Thanks for reading our article! This time of year is the perfect time to join our community of Catholic singles online at Ave Maria Singles! Take a look at what our community has to offer!

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