Thanksgiving would simply not be Thanksgiving without our families present. At Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the laughter and tears we’ve shared together and for those special times yet to come. Thanksgiving is also a time that we reconnect with long-lost relatives or those people in our family with whom our relationship is less than perfect. Old hurts and resentments may gather around the table along with the members of our family who have caused them. And still we gather together because we are family. We remember, we give thanks, we break bread together and we forgive one another — because we are a family.

As Catholics we are part of a family that is far larger than our own — our spiritual family in the Church. Every Sunday at Mass, we give thanks for the family we have in Jesus Christ and for the love and forgiveness Christ manifests. At this celebration, there is a meal, but there is no turkey, pie or mashed potatoes. Rather, when we gather around Christ’s table for Eucharist, we are invited to receive the real presence of Jesus Christ, to eat His body and body in remembrance of His love and sacrifice. Through the bread and wine, we are spiritually fed.

Yet while we each receive the Sacrament individually, we are called to worship and partake in the real presence of Jesus Christ communally, as a family united in Christ’s call to be His people. It is important to remember that gathering together as family, flawed though we may be, we are God’s beloved people. We gather together each week because that is what families do. It is with this family, called together by Christ, that we are able to fully celebrate and remember Christ’s sacrifice for us in the Eucharist, the most important meal of all.

We are Eucharistic people:

  • If your parish offers donut Sunday, sit with someone new this week. Meet a new family or welcome a single person into your parish community.
  • Sit in a different pew. While it is comfortable to go to the same pew each week, sitting in a new place at Mass offers a different perspective and new faces. Reach out at the sign of peace to someone you’ve never seen before.
  • Learn the names of the people on your parish council and send them email thanking them for their service — especially if you disagree with their choices. We are a family of faith, and all families disagree sometimes.
  • Compliment a family on how their young children behaved during Mass. Getting to church on Sunday can be a difficult and stressful experience with young kids. Your praise may be the nudge that helps them come back next Sunday!