Dear Sacred Heart Family,
Most of us know that this week we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. What most people do not realize is that the first thanksgiving actually happened 56 years before the famed meal between the Puritans and the Wampanoag tribe. The first Thanksgiving actually happened on September 8, 1565 immediately after the landing of Pedro Melendez and the first Spanish explorers in what is now St. Augustine Florida.
Perhaps the most significant difference with the earlier and later celebrations was that this truly first Thanksgiving was completely Catholic in nature. Upon their safe landing in La Florida (the place full of flowers), Fr Francisco Lopez led the entire group of explorers in the Holy Mass as their first act. If you remember your catechism well, you will remember that the word “Eucharist,” what we commonly refer to as Mass, in Greek means, “thanksgiving.” As such, the first thanksgiving in what is now the United States of America, was the thanksgiving of the Mass/Eucharist. This site of the first Mass marked the “rustic altar” is also where I served my first Mass as a deacon.
The other unique element of this first Thanksgiving was that the Europeans (Spaniards) provided a meal for the native peoples (Tumuqua) not the other way around. The joy Fr Lopez and the explorers felt after that first Thanksgiving Mass led them into action to share from their own food rations with the natives who were awestruck by the liturgy of the Eucharist. This meal was likely comprised of cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine—not the meal we are used to for sure.
This year at Sacred Heart we would like to recreate that first thanksgiving, in celebrating the Holy Eucharist together. Our bilingual celebration will begin at 10:30 am. Please note my style of a bilingual Mass is not to repeat everything in two languages but to alternate between the two languages, so that the celebration is beautiful for everyone, but not longer.
Much like the original settlers, we would also like to have a meal after the Eucharist for those who may not have a family to share the holiday with. For our part, the parish will provide roasted turkey and ham and we ask those coming to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert, but if you are unable to bring something, please don’t let that keep you from joining us. We simply ask that you sign up in advance so that we know how much food to prepare. Let us give God the proper thanks he deserves for delivering each of us to this bountiful country, as did our ancestors in the faith, and may we continue to share with others from whatever God has given us with our time, talent, and treasure. Happy Blessed 456th Thanksgiving!
With a heart for Mission,