The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, J.C.L.

ERIE — Here we are in the week during which we celebrate one of our most important national holidays. As with everything else that’s happened in 2020, it’s likely that Thanksgiving will be a little different for most of us.  

The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, J.C.L.,
Bishop of Erie          Photo/Mark Fainstein

          Back in March, when we first began understanding the scope of the pandemic, few of us imagined we would still need to be making adjustments this late in the year. Normally we would be confirming travel plans, preparing meals to share and simply enjoying opportunities to gather with family and friends.  

          And yet, celebrating Thanksgiving with truly grateful hearts may be more important this year than ever.

          What will we learn about ourselves as we experience Thanksgiving during a pandemic? It’s easy to feel grateful and to experience joy when times are good. But the real mark of a Christian is finding peace and knowing gratitude even when we are in the midst of challenges.

          We are far from the first generation to experience hardship. Many of us have relatives who know what it was like when food was rationed during the war, or who did not have the means to enjoy a turkey dinner during the Great Depression. Certainly, we’ve each faced loss, disappointment, illness or other significant personal challenges. St. Paul tells us, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18) That one sentence is more than enough for us to ponder this year.

          Let’s take advantage of what may be a quieter, less frenetic Thanksgiving break. Arrange to see friends and family through technology. Brighten someone’s day with a note. And set aside time to offer sincere thanks to God for the many good things in our lives, no matter how small. A bit of sunshine. A little time to take a walk. Perhaps a win for the Steelers?

          Yes, Thanksgiving may be a bit different this year. But the reason for it and the opportunity to lift our hearts in gratitude remain the same.

This column was originally written for the Erie Times-News, published 11.21.2020.