Let me tell you about a young girl I met named Amy who experienced a life-changing event.
Her mother, Marjorie, always wanted everything to be perfect for Thanksgiving. The table had to be perfect in every way. Even the various Thanksgiving foods had to be placed in specific spaces and positions on the table. And, of course, only the right people were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at Marjorie’s house. So, when she ran out of heavy cream for the mashed potatoes, it became a huge crisis for the entire family. And so, it was on that windy, frosty, Thanksgiving morning, Marjorie ordered her 17-year-old daughter, Amy, to immediately go to any open store and buy heavy cream.
Amy arrived at the local convenience store and instantly noticed a small group gathered in the corner of the store. She curiously went around the corner to check it out and saw four homeless women and men silently praying with gratitude for their Thanksgiving dinners which sat on a box in the midst of their circle. There was no glistening turkey or buttered mashed potatoes. There were no candied yams or fresh pumpkin pie for dessert. There were only four sandwiches and four boxes of juice on this “Thanksgiving table.” As she looked up, Amy noticed a van pulling out of the parking lot that had “St. Anthony’s Bread for the Poor” written on the side.
Amy returned home from the store a different person because of what she had witnessed on that cold Thanksgiving morning. As she placed the cream down on the kitchen counter, she looked at her mother and said, “Mom, this dinner isn’t really about Thanksgiving for me. This is simply another fancy dinner for your friends. We don’t even say grace before this meal. We need to change the spirit of our Thanksgiving meal and really make it about being grateful for all that we have, and begin to consider what we can share with the poor. I just saw a real Thanksgiving meal, and it didn’t look like ours at all.”
Maybe the same can be said of our holiday dinner. Perhaps we can become more aware of God’s generosity to us and then remember to be generous to others. There are thousands of children, women, and men whose Thanksgiving dinner this year will not include turkey unless it’s in a sandwich, coffee unless it’s in a paper cup, and pumpkin pie unless it’s served on a paper plate. You can help us make Thanksgiving a little more dignified and filled with love and care through your generosity to St. Anthony’s Guild.
On Thanksgiving Day many people will take their place at a table and share what they are grateful for. You might hear: “I am grateful for my family, for my good health, for my home or for my job.”
But what if you heard: “Lord, thank you to St. Anthony’s Guild for this formula for my baby, thank you for the new undergarments I have received, for the socks that keep my feet warm at night and the shoes that I wear to work each morning.” Then you may realize that you are sitting at a very different table; a table of the poor and the homeless, who have been given a wonderful meal and a chance to experience love and care because you were generous to St. Anthony’s Guild, and because you helped us Franciscan Friars to put your LOVE to WORK.
Please join us for our special Thanksgiving Day Mass celebrated here at St. Francis Friary where we will join your prayers with ours and bring your special prayer intentions to God with all the gratitude that God deserves “for all He has done for us!”
Many blessings on this Thanksgiving Day to you and all those you love!
God bless you for your wonderful generosity,
Fr. David Convertino, OFM
St. Anthony’s Guild