By Donna Orsuto
In the United States, we will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26. In my family, this is usually a big and boisterous affair that includes lots of fun, food and fellowship. Because of the pandemic, for the first time ever, my family won’t be able to gather together. I suspect that this will be the wise decision of many families throughout the country.
We also have the tradition in Rome at The Lay Centre of marking this feast, even though we only have one other U.S. citizen in the community! This year, our celebration also will be scaled back because we are unable to invite the many guests who usually join us. We will have Mass before dinner though, where we will remember and give thanks to God for his many blessings and express our gratitude and prayers for all of our many friends, far and near, living and dead.
I think that what we need at this time, perhaps more than ever, is the gift of gratitude: gratitude for the gifts that have been given even in the midst of this difficult period. Our families, our communities, our countries, and our world will be a better place if we can cultivate this gift and create together this culture of gratitude.
Recently, I have been listening to Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Heiliger Dankgesang” (Holy Song of Thanksgiving). It was composed in 1825, just two years before he died, during a dark period of his life. This deaf, broken man was recovering at that time from a grave illness that had nearly killed him. He was without money, he had angry mood swings, and his correspondence shows that he felt isolated from his family and friends. And yet, in the midst of this crisis, he discovered and was able to communicate a message of hope and strength in one of the most sublime pieces of music I have ever heard.
If you are not doing what you had hoped to do this Thanksgiving, I hope that you can take time to listen to Beethoven’s short piece and that you will feel new strength and a sense of gratitude to the Almighty, who is the giver of all good gifts.
And may you receive this day all that you need to be strengthened and to give thanks.
Suggested listening: Beethoven, String Quartet 15 In A Minor, Op. 132, "Heiliger Dankgesang" - 3. Molto Adagio. (Holy Song of Thanksgiving)
Suggested reading: Learn more about Beethoven’s experience, see click here
Image: Saratica Cornucopia, Flickr Sharing