Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

11/28/2013 (10 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

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/28/2013 (10 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: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More U.S.

United States developing quick-strike team to deal with Ebola Watch

Image of The U.S. Ebola strike team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In response to the crisis in Dallas, the United States is developing a 30-person "quick-strike team" in order to attend to the needs of Ebola patients within the U.S. The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month. The ... continue reading


After 21 days, the family of Thomas Eric Duncan are Ebola free Watch

Image of Thomas Eric Duncan's family, including his fiancee and her son and nephews, are nearing the end of their 21 day quarantine. So far, none of the four have developed Ebola like symptoms.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The fiancee of Thomas Eric Duncan-the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States-is nearing the end of a 21 day quarantine, and she and her son and two nephews are grateful that this period is coming to an end. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - If ... continue reading


Supreme Court backs Texas' war on voter fraud Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court has backed a 2013 Texas law that requires voters to show ID before they submit a vote.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Supreme Court has given Texas the go ahead for a law that requires voters in the state to show certain forms of identification before they are able to cast a ballot. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The October 18 decision came from a majority of ... continue reading


Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Synod on the Family: Duc in Altum

Image of Lorenzo Lotto's depiction of the Holy Family's rest on the flight into Egypt.

By Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

Christians today in most parts of the world find themselves in a world much like the one inhabited by the first Christians - rampant sexual license, abortion, contraception, family break-down.  Those early Christians took a counter-cultural stance, echoing ... continue reading


(Video) Nina Pham's incredible goodbye will bring you to tears Watch

Image of Supporters of Nina Pham, the nurse who was infected with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has released a video which shows the goodbye between Ebola-patient Nina Pham and her doctor, as she leaves Dallas for treatment in Maryland. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 26-year-old nurse was infected with Ebola after ... continue reading


(Video) South Carolina's shocking SHARKNADO! Watch

Image of A rare shark feeding frenzy was caught on video in North Carolina, as hundreds of sharks attacked a school of Blue Fish.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing video has appeared on YouTube which shows 100 of sharks engaged in a feeding frenzy just feet from the shore in Cape Lookout, North Carolina. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The bizarre video was taken on October 9, but was not made public until ... continue reading


Fed takes in record of over $3 trillion in taxes Watch

Image of A Treasury Department report has revealed that the U.S. government has taken in a record amount of tax revenue for the 2014 fiscal year, at over $3 trillion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The latest Monthly Treasury Statement has showed that inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues and tax revenues have reached their highest point even as of the 2014 fiscal year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The inflation-adjusted tax revenue reached ... continue reading


James Robison: Turn In Your Sermons! Watch

Image of James and Betty Robison

By James Robison

The city of Houston has issued a wake up call to all freedom-loving Americans by ordering pastors to turn in their sermons and staff communications dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, and Mayor Annise Parker. You must hear the real message loud and clear ... continue reading


He doesn't even care anymore. Government draws in $3 trillion after numerous tax hikes Watch

Image of The U.S. government took in over $3 trillion dollars in taxes for fiscal year 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. government has collected a record amount of taxes for the 2014 fiscal year, topping $3 trillion in revenue for the first time in history, numbers from the Treasury Department revealed. The data also showed that this influx of cash has brought the current ... continue reading


Trying to win a Darwin Award? Man seen walking next to Ebola patient with clipboard for protection Watch

Image of Who is this man and why isn't he protected like the others?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Maybe he's trying to win a Darwin Award? The nation is aghast at a plainclothes man who appears to be coolly walking beside Ebola-infected nurse, Amber Vinson protected only by --a clipboard. Everyone else around him was dressed in a hazmat suit as she was placed ... 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, Ephesians 2:12-22
12 do not forget, I say, that you were at that time ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
35 'See that you have your belts done up and your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2014 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of 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