Every November, in the United States (but in other places in the world, too), millions of people celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

For many faiths, the act of giving thanks to God is important. For Catholics, it is the name we give to the most important thing we do: the Eucharist. Let me explain.

Catholics believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At Mass, his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross is re-presented. In doing this, we remember and participate in his sacrifice. But most of all, we are giving God thanks.

And that’s exactly what the word Eucharist means: thanksgiving. Literally: the Greek word for Eucharist, εὐχαριστία, means “thanksgiving.”

It was a common term for communion in the Early Church and is even associated with communion in the Bible.

For example, in 1 Cor. 10:16 it reads: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving [εὐχαριστία] for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”

So every time Catholics go to Mass, at the center of their worship is the ultimate Thanksgiving.

Saint Thomas Aquinas' Prayer of Thanksgiving After Mass:

I thank you, holy Lord,
Almighty Father, Eternal God,
who deigned to feast me,
sinful and unworthy servant,
with the precious
Body and Blood of Your Son,
Jesus Christ Our Lord,
not for any merit of mine,
but only because of your merciful goodness.

And I pray that this Holy Communion,
far from condemning me to punishment,
may bring about my pardon and salvation,
encompassing me with the armor of faith
and the shield of goodwill.

By it let my vices be done away,
all lustful desires extinguished.
May it advance me in
charity, patience, humility, obedience,
and every other virtue.

Let it be a strong defense
against the wiles of all my enemies,
visible and invisible,
allaying for me every disturbance of flesh and spirit,
binding me firmly to you,
the one true God,
and bringing my last hour
to a happy close.

I pray, too, that it may be your pleasure
to call my sinful self one day to that banquet,
wonderful past all telling, where you,
with your Son and the Holy Spirit,
feast your saints with the vision of yourself,
who are true light,
the fulfillment of all desires,
the joy that knows no ending,
gladness unalloyed, and perfect bliss:
through the same Christ our Lord.
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