"We give Thee thanks, according to Thy great glory."
America's Real First Thanksgiving
The Mass today is the votive Mass of the Immaculate Conception, the title of our Lady under which our bishops chose to honor her as Patroness of the Republic at the First Plenary Council of Baltimore.
Over two hundred and some years ago this October, George Washington, the first President of these United States, in proclaiming the first observance of Thanksgiving Day by the newly constituted Republic, wrote the following:
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor ... for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we [enjoy] -- for the peaceful and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national [Constitution] now lately instituted -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general, for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or in private, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our (national) government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed.... to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and bless them with good government, peace, and concord.
“To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best."
Now we, two centuries later, ask Almighty God to continue to grant the same favors acknowledged by President Washington and the people of this Republic through their elected representatives.
“Tranquility, union, and plenty” “peaceful and rational manner,” “safety and happiness,” “knowledge” and “liberty,” “pardon, wisdom and justice under law,” “true religion and virtue, and the increase of science”; all of these things we ask of Thee, O God, Who hears our prayers; and for all of these things, we give Thee thanks. Amen.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
AMERICA: BLESS GOD!