Editorial: Times may be dark but there is still much to be thankful for

A volunteer opens a box of frozen turkeys at St. Jerome Church in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 19, 2019, during the annual turkey and trimmings giveaway sponsored by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. Provisions for a Thanksgiving Day meal were distributed to more than 500 families in need. CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

On Thursday, Nov. 26, Americans will once again celebrate Thanksgiving. Although in 2020, it can seem like there is little to be thankful for.

More than 10.5 million of our fellow Americans have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and more than 242,000 have died from it. Even among those who have survived, multitudes were near death, isolated from family and friends. For some, the effects of the virus are felt long after their hospital stay is over.

Even those who have been spared the virus are fatigued by the vigilance required to protect themselves and those closest to them and the constant worry that the pandemic might touch them yet.

Millions who lost their jobs when the pandemic cratered the economy remain out of work. Their fears about how they will take care of themselves and their families weigh heavily on their minds and hearts.

We normally would look to a festive occasion like Thanksgiving to surround ourselves with loved ones and to lift our spirits. But health experts warn that the family gatherings that have been so central to our celebration of Thanksgiving could be an event that puts our entire family at risk. So we’ve been told to limit our gatherings. We’ll have to be satisfied with computer connections. 

As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, the rancor of the election season lingers.

It is easy to give in to the gloom. But that would betray our Christian faith, our hope in Christ.

As Catholics, we gather – either in person or on the internet – to celebrate the Eucharist, which in name and form is a sacrament of thanksgiving. When we gather around the altar we give thanks for the salvation Christ has won for us through his sacrifice. We give thanks for “all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us.

Even in these dark times, God has blessed us. So how can we show are thanks for those blessings? We can share them with others, and in doing so share God’s love for us and our love for God. 

If we are blessed with a loving family, let us share that love with someone who is alone in the world.

If we are blessed with enough food for a feast, let us help a hungry person share in the bounty that God has showered upon this nation.

If we are blessed to have a job and an income to take care of our family, let us remember and help those who have lost their job to the pandemic and are struggling financially.

If we are blessed with good health, let us reach out to comfort those who are sick and hurting.

If we are blessed with hope in this life and the next, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ.

We have much to be thankful for. Make sure this Thanksgiving Day – and every day before and after – to give thanks to God who has made all good things possible.