“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits … bread and wine and water are brought, and the presider in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen.” — St. Justin Martyr
At some point, when I was growing up, my mother began to insist that we attend Mass as a family on Thanksgiving Day. My father initially objected to her suggestion. As soon as he voiced his objection though, he realized going to Mass was about thanking God for all that had been done for us. In this instance, as in many others (for the record), my mother’s sensibilities won out. In fact, the word “Eucharist” is a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.” Saint Paul provides the earliest record of this word, writing it in his Letter to the Corinthians. He describes the action of Jesus at the Last Supper saying, “and after he had given thanks [eucharisteō], broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor 11:24). To gather for the Eucharist is to gather to give thanks. After all, we see in the blessed Host promises fulfilled and future graces contained.
LET US PRAY
Lord Jesus Christ, before offering bread and wine to become your body and blood, you set forth a pattern for your disciples. May we imitate you, faithfully giving thanks to the Father. Fill our hearts with gratitude always. Amen.
PRAYER TO THE EUCHARIST
O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may always experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption. Who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
-Collect for the Feast of Corpus Christi, composed by St. Thomas Aquinas