Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

11/28/2013 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The people who believe that America is a bad country, for all practical purposes, are now in control of its government. And they are causing greater harm to the American people than our worst enemies through their corrupt and immoral policies and their abusive use of the state's police power.

Through the intercession of our nation's saints, we pray for the protection and well being of America. This is God's country. Let us give God the thanks He is due this Thanksgiving Day, and everyday, by living as His true children. May God bless America!

My first Thanksgiving Day celebration

My first Thanksgiving Day celebration

Article Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/28/2013 (4 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Thanksgiving Day, Holiday, America, United States, Christianity, Catholicism, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - The faded photograph I have used for this article was taken by my mother and father on my first Thanksgiving Day about 60 years ago. It reminds me of their wonderful sense of humor, their deep faith and their goodness. It also reminds me of two earlier Thanksgiving Day celebrations and how much our country has changed over the years.

The "First Thanksgiving Day" was celebrated by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in the early 1600's. Although they were accustomed to thanksgiving celebrations (days of prayer), the specific purpose of the "First Thanksgiving Day" was to thank God for helping them survive their first New England winter. However, the first time Thanksgiving Day was celebrated as a national holiday was about 240 years later when President Abraham Lincoln gave it official recognition in 1863.

During his proclamation address Lincoln said, "It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gracious gifts of the Most High God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

So much has changed since then. Today, some people want to suppress the religious significance associated with Thanksgiving Day, and the role of religion in our society. In addition, some people want to suppress the truth about America's goodness. We see evidence of this in the media and in many schools where our children are being taught that America is a bad country. But this Thanksgiving my thoughts are about the goodness that made this country great.

It is right for us to admit our failures, but much of the criticism toward America is exaggerated or untrue. While Americans have made mistakes and done some things that were wrong, America has been a powerful force for good within its borders and throughout the world since its inception. There are many examples. I will mention a few that have special meaning for me.

The Founding Fathers of our country have had their reputations and accomplishments dragged through the mud in recent years; however, I believe they gave us a system of government that unleashed freedom upon the citizens of this nation unlike anything ever done before. And this system was grounded in an accurate understanding of human nature. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) "Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude" (#1731).

This unique system was "cemented" in the Constitution of the United States. Although not perfect, I believe that our Constitution is the greatest political document ever written. But even greater than our system of government is the American understanding that the rights of the people are of divine origin, that is, from God not man. We read in the Declaration of Independence ". . .  that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

This accomplishment, which took centuries to achieve, was great because it reflected a fundamental truth about human society. The Catechism says, "There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves. . . " (#1878). We need society. It is a function of our nature as human persons. We develop our potential through social exchange, dialogue and service with each other.

However, socialization can threaten personal freedom and initiative due to excessive intervention by the state. The principle of subsidiarity says that ". . . a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it. . ." (CCC #1883). Even though limited and imperfect, the separation of powers within our federal government depicted in our Constitution and the autonomy of the states are an amazing application of the principle of subsidiarity.

America has also extended its goodness around the world in ways unlike any other country. There are many outstanding examples of American goodwill toward its international neighbors. For instance, America has given an unprecedented amount of aid to over 100 countries in the world. This aid has been in the form of technical, material and financial assistance. By far, most of America's financial assistance has been in the form of outright gifts. America has even shown incomparable Christian goodwill to its former enemies.

After World War II, Germany and Japan were reduced to rubble. We helped them institute democratic governments and sweeping social and economic reforms. For instance, in Japan under General MacArthur's leadership, the status of the emperor's divine origin was rejected, and civil liberties similar to our own were granted to the people. Today, both Germany and Japan are free and sovereign. They are also world powers and respected members of the international community.

As an American Catholic, I am proud that Catholics have been an important part of this great nation from its beginning. The colonization of America followed its discovery by a Catholic, Christopher Columbus, whose expedition was financed by Catholic Spain. Then came the Spanish missionaries. However, it was European Protestants who colonized and forged the original thirteen colonies into one nation. But two Catholics, Daniel Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimmons, were members of the Continental Congress and helped frame our Constitution.

Catholics also contributed to America by establishing schools and promoting first rate education. Saint John Neumann is especially noted for this. He is the first Bishop to organize a Catholic school system in this country. He is credited with building approximately 100 schools throughout the Diocese of Philadelphia. Catholics have also built the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the country. And Catholic Charities is one of the largest and most trusted nonprofit providers of social services in America.

In the early days, Catholics only constituted a small percentage of the population. Our population increased through the acquisition of territories from Catholic Spain, Mexico and France. Then there was an explosion of growth in the 19th and 20th centuries due to the immigration of German, Irish and Hispanic Catholics. Today, Catholics are the largest single religious denomination in the country, almost 22 percent of the population, and America has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world. And Catholics occupy leadership positions in just about every field of endeavor imaginable.

Plus we have a growing list of American saints: Frances Xavier Cabrini, Jean de Lalande, Damien De Veuster, Katharine Drexel, Rose Philippine Duchesne, René Goupil, Mother Théodore Guérin, Isaac Jogues, John Neumann, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. However, given the negative changes that are occurring in our country today, I suspect that Catholics' greatest role in American life is yet to come.

The people who believe that America is a bad country, for all practical purposes, are now in control of its government. And they are causing greater harm to the American people than our worst enemies through their corrupt and immoral policies and their abusive use of the state's police power. Consequently, America is no longer the land of the free, and the American people no longer live in peace.

Thanks to people like the Pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln, and my mother and father, I believe the America I was born into is worth fighting and dying for. But how do we do that? There is no one answer, but as Catholics we believe where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20), and this is where we can start.

Catholicism is graced with an abundance of truth. For instance, it sees order, beauty, goodness, meaning, and purpose in creation. It sees all these things, and more, rooted in an all-powerful, all-good, all-loving God. It also sees a glorious destiny for the children of God, which begins in this life when we are united with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Catholics can offer these truths to our nation and help move America toward greater justice and blessings now and in the years to come.

Through the intercession of our nation's saints, we pray for the protection and well being of America. This is God's country.  Let us give Him the thanks He is due this day, and everyday, by living as His true children. May God bless America!

 -----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More U.S.

Suffering, Struggle and the Christian Revolution Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian tradition instructs us that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us - and then through us, as we change. This is a part of the teaching on the mystery ... continue reading


Live the Easter Way! The Holy Spirit which Transformed the Early Church Enlists Us! Watch

Image of Candle by candle, the light of the Resurrection illuminates the world around us as He who is the Light of the World fills it with His radiance.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I just watched Pope Francis preside at the Easter Vigil at the Basilica of St Peter. His homily on encountering Jesus and finding our own Galilee was beautiful. Now, I am about to depart for the Easter Vigil at my parish in Chesapeake, Virginia. I will greet the ... continue reading


Holy Saturday: God has Died in the Flesh and Hell Trembles with Fear Watch

Image of Holy Saturday Byzantine Icon. This is a day which presents to those who approach it in contemplation, an opportunity to probe the mystery of life and death. It is a day to enter into the deeper mysteries of the faith with the millions and millions of those who have gone before us.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all ... continue reading


The Birth of Catholic Evangelism Watch

Image of I recently interviewed Jeff Cavins  for my weekly show  on Ave Maria Radio.  Jeff, who is nationally known for his study guides to the Bible, has just taken a job as Director of Evangelism at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  It's a significant point in this nation's Church history that an apologist/educator with EWTN origins has taken a significant job inside an archdiocese.

By Deal W. Hudson

In spite of being ignored, and in some cases blacklisted, several of the hosts of EWTN radio and TV shows grew ministries of their own in the evangelistic Catholic style of Mother Angelica's still-prospering network. Jeff Cavins is one of the most successful of ... continue reading


Good Friday: Behold the Wood of the Cross Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This is Good Friday. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on Golgotha's Hill. There, the one St. Paul calls the New Adam (1 Cor.15), in the perfect obedience of love, did for us  what we ... continue reading


Finally Justice! Small town city manager gets 12 years in jail on corruption charges Watch

Image of Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo's party came crashing down when it was revealed in 2010 that Rizzo was giving himself an annual salary and benefits package of $1.5 million.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bell, California is a small town with less than 36,000 people. That didn't stop City Manager Robert Rizzo, along with his friends, from awarding themselves hefty raises and drawing yearly salaries as high as $1.5 million. It was fun while it lasted - now Rizzo ... continue reading


FORCED BESTIALITY: Evil teenage girls sexually assault autistic boy - and record it for posterity Watch

Image of Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bush along with her 15-year-old accomplice are accused by the St. Mary's County sheriff's department on numerous charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an episode shocking for its sheer cruelty, two teenage girls in Maryland are now in custody after they repeatedly abused a 16-year-old autistic boy - eventually making him perform sexual acts with a family pet - and recording it all on their cell phones. LOS ... continue reading


HOW LONG BEFORE THE SYSTEM BREAKS? Working Americans increasingly made to pay for those on welfare Watch

Image of Those who work in America are increasingly being made to pay for those who don't -- in the manner of an over-burdened ox.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're an American who awakes each day to begin a day of toil you have no interest in, take heed: There are only more reasons to hit your pillow in frustration each night as you drift off to sleep. You are an endangered species, and the media has not rallied ... continue reading


Ron Paul warns Feds may stage 'Waco styled' raid Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy has been fighting with the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years over his cattle and grazing rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Cliven Bundy, his family, their supporters, and myriad militiamen forced federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management to back off of the Bundy's Nevada ranch and release hundreds of captured cattle, one politician warns that the feds could be planning ... continue reading


What does this say about America? More people getting food stamps than women working full-time Watch

Image of There were only 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 1969.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a distressing figure that shines a most unflattering light on affairs here in the United States. According to recent statistics, those  participating in the food stamp program, or SNAP outnumbered the number of women who worked full-time, year-round ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 10:34, 37-43
34 Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:1-9
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and ... Read More

Reading 2, Colossians 3:1-4
1 Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 20th, 2014 Image

St. Marian
April 20: When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter