We are still far from want

Describing what tradition recalls as the first Thanksgiving festival nearly 400 years ago with their helpful Indian friends at Plymouth Plantation, Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote that “although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are . . . far from want.”

The headlines of our day as Thanksgiving 2008 approaches tell us that many have moved a little closer to want in these challenging economic times with the loss of jobs, homes, and retirement savings. But while our headlines speak of bankruptcy and bailout, there is a word in stories of the 2008 agricultural harvest season that, like Pilgrim Winslow, reminds us of the goodness of God and that we are really far from want.

The word is bumper, as in crop. Again.

A quote from last week’s Post story on Tom and Julia Deutsch of Cameron — a farm couple belonging to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Galesburg — is well worth a second look as we all prepare to count our blessings this week.

“The yield has been so good this year that we’re running out of storage,” said Tom, sounding like the Old Testament’s Joseph in the years of plenty in Egypt. Earlier this month, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it expects Illinois corn growers to harvest 2.09 billion bushels, with average yields of 179 bushels an acre and some getting more than 200. Patrick Kirchofer, manager of the Peoria County Farm Bureau, told the Peoria Journal-Star that “this might be our best year for corn ever. . . . Last year was an excellent year and now we’ve had great years back-to-back.”

Yes, thanks to the goodness of God, we remain far from want, and it is time to give thanks for this abundant harvest and all of God’s blessings. One way to do so this Sunday, Nov. 23, is to join Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, and many faithful central Illinois farmers for the celebration of the Diocesan Harvest Mass. It starts at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Another is to make the Eucharist (the word means “thanksgiving”) a part of our Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Have a safe, prayerful, enjoyable and, always mindful of those nearer to want than ourselves, charitable Thanksgiving. — Thomas J. Dermody, editor-in-chief, The Catholic Post

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