The holiday of Thanksgiving began, as we all know, when the Pilgrims at their colony of Plymouth were saved from a death-by-starvation. They were saved by the heroic virtue of a native man whom they called "Squanto". I motion that this man, whose real name is Tisquantum, be put up for canonization!
Born providentially on the feast of The Circumcision of Our Lord, in 1592, Tisquantum was still a young man when he was brutally abducted and sold into slavery by English speculators. These shrewd laissez-faireans took him to Spain, where miraculously he was rescued, bought out of bondage, by Catholic priests.
Tisquantum must have been deeply moved by the Spanish priests-- either his prudence or his affections, or both, illuminated by grace-- because he asked for baptism into their faith. He was baptised into the Catholic Church in anno Domini 1614.
Tisquantum longed to return to his home and his Patuxet people. His fidelity to them held strong through long years of journeying. He eventually took work on an English trading ship in order to return home across the ocean.
When he returned home he found that his family, his village, and many of his people were dead. His home had been destroyed by a plague-- smallpox-- brought by the English who had already handed him so much suffering. Tisquantum must have known what it meant to hate.
To forgive his abductors, those who had wronged him personally, must have been hard enough. However, we can speculate that his baptism must have greatly aided in the strengthening of his heart and his ability to make peace.
To forgive wrongs done to one's self is far easier than to forgive the evils and hurts done to those we love. To have fought his hate so well, and to have overcome his wrath at his enemies, only to arrive home at long last and to find his mother, father, brothers, sisters, and perhaps wife and children, friends, neighbors all dead from the filth visited upon them by the same enemies must have brought Tisquantum near to despair.
Tisquantum was forced to see his home, where surely he had memories of boisterous lively Patuxet children singing, of hunting with his father and brothers, of walking with his wife, now emptied. Emptied to be filled by English colonists.
However, in 1621 when Tisquantum found the English colonists bereft, dying, filthy, and sick, he befriended them. He took them under his wing. He softened his heart to them in their folly, their stupid, prudenceless folly, and rescued them. He taught them how to build a sustainable village, to work the land.
Did the Calvinists think to thank their Catholic friend? Did the heralds of the Industrial Revolution record any sense of irony that their salvation came at the hands of a native agrarian Roman Catholic of a foreign race? It is to their credit that the Calvinists thought to thank God, and instituted a holiday in this memory, but perhaps American history would have been better had they also thanked the blessedness of Tisquantum. Had they emulated his faith and his way of life.
Tisquantum died alone, betrayed by his own people and by the Calvinists, murdered by one side and ignored by the other, while acting as an interpreter for peace talks.
We should pray, perhaps, to our brother Tisquantum, that God will help the Catholic Church today to again teach Calvinists how to live sustainably and to live at peace; the former only possible by loving one's home, one's land, and the latter only possible by heroic charity, love, and forgiveness. Even in the face of rape, murder, pillage, and horror.
When the Calvinist beast is unleashed again in this generation, may we meet it with such fortitude, peace, and charity as did Tisquantum.