At Redwoods, Thanksgiving is a liturgical event held in the context of the Eucharist. The Eucharist (known also as the Mass) comes from the Greek word eucharistein,which means to give thanks. It commemorates the self-gift of Christ for the salvation of the world and is the “source and summit” of our communal life together. The sisters, who arrived from Belgium in 1962, were impressed that their new country had a national feast day set aside to give thanks for the many gifts bestowed by Providence over the past year. Since it is a holiday that is uniquely North American, they decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with a special liturgy. Central to the liturgy is an Offertory procession where all the sisters carry items symbolic of the fruits of the monastery. This year soap, garden produce, jam, cards, honey and an icon were included. These fruits of our labors were then laid at the base of the altar.
The prayer of Thanksgiving or Eucharist is followed by a celebratory meal. It features traditional Thanksgiving fare, but also includes the precious gift of each other’s companionship as we continue our journey in faith together.