Thanksgiving for Silence and the Poor

Nov 25, 2020

Matthew Brown

The last time I contributed to our St. Bernard’s blog was around Easter earlier this year. At a time when many of us were quarantined in our homes and our churches were closed, I had suggested that we must have patience in waiting to encounter the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist at Mass. Thankfully, our churches are currently open, albeit with some restrictions on limit capacity.

Now, here we are again before a national holiday with a very similar situation staring at us: fear of local businesses being shut-down, people losing their jobs, increased stress within the home, and an uncertain future for the upcoming new year. It is an understatement to say that these are some incredibly difficult times.

On Thursday, we will be celebrating the national holiday of carved turkey, appetizing mashed potatoes, delicious stuffing, and hopefully the frequent slice of pumpkin pie. Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the large difference in this year's Thanksgiving compared to others we have experienced. A lot of us may not see the usual family members surrounding the dinner table, and maybe some of us won’t be traveling to see family like we are accustomed to. As I also mentioned in my earlier blog post in April, this all can be incredibly frustrating, confusing, and frankly, sad.

I must admit, writing this post was a little difficult for me. I kept asking myself, “What kind of good could come from not seeing family around the dinner table?” (I can already hear chuckles from some of the answers you’re coming up with). But, seriously, what good could come from this?

There are two things that immediately came to mind: silence and the poor.

Thanksgiving is a time of, quite literally, giving thanks to God for what we have in our lives. I anticipate that many of us will feel a sense of loneliness without the usual family around us. If we go deeper, there can be a deafening silence to this. I imagine that the poor among us have this same feeling of loneliness and the silence that comes along with that.

As Christians, we are constantly called to be in solidarity with the poor, and we should always be looking for opportunities to do this. I think that this Thanksgiving will give us plenty of opportunities to recognize and be in solidarity with the poor, and I imagine we will have more opportunities of silence than previous years. Let’s do something with that extra silence within our homes: let’s not just be grateful for what we have and the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us, but seriously recognize that a national pandemic has already been occurring for decades in this country, way before the coronavirus - the pandemic of poverty, both material and spiritual.

So, while we count our many blessings and are thankful for what we do have, let’s make the Thanksgiving of 2020 a day of renewal for our Christian call to serve “the least of these.” As Christ proclaimed, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Before we take important action on helping our poor brothers and sisters - such as serving food at a soup kitchen or donating clothes to your local charitable organization - let’s first pray within the silence for Christ’s presence to fill our hearts and make Himself known to us in a deeper way.

Matthew Brown is the Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. Much of his professional experience is in higher education. Matthew earned his Bachelor of Arts in Politics from The Catholic University of America and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration from SUNY Brockport. He is happily married to his wife, Andrea, and they have a beautiful newborn daughter, Ella Ann.