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A Thanksgiving Prayer of Atonement

November 21, 2007

Like any other member of the privileged classes in America, I will be gathering with my family over the next several days to mark the holiday of Thanksgiving. Like any other member of the privileged class, I have many blessings to count — abundance and the freedom to enjoy it with my loved ones in safety and leisure. Counting our blessings and offering thanks is appropriate. Katerina Ivanova has written a post that beautifully expresses the Christian call to a deeper thankfulness that recognizes our obligation to the poor in a simpler Thanksgiving feast. Indeed, Christian scripture and church tradition make it abundantly clear that, if we do not work to meet the needs of the widows, orphans and poor of our world, the blessings we count will be counted as an abomination in God’s eyes. In a world that is characterized by an obscene gap between over-abundance for the few and direst poverty for the many, our prayers of thanksgiving must be paired with prayers of atonement and a renewed commitment to justice.

O God, you love the poor and dispossessed.

When you sent your beloved among us,

Jesus came not into the world of the powerful,

but into the impoverished streets and hearts of his time.

This night your Spirit moves among us once again.

We feel the power of Christ in our midst.

We hear his call to us to feed the poor,

to clothe the naked to love the unloved.

And our selfishness and sin humbles us.

This night we offer you our repentant prayer of thanks,

knowing that the light of Christ in our midst

is leading us to a new day of Gospel compassion

wherein our heart can be made to overflow in love

for those who hunger for bread, for love, and for dignity.”

— Dr. Edward Francis Gabriele, From “The Blessed Frederick Ozanam” in Prayer with Searchers and Saints. Reprinted in Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers.

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