Bishop issues a Thanksgiving message

Published: November 25, 2021

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor wrote the following message that was published, Nov. 25, 2021, in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

"As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables to enjoy the benefits of this uniquely American Holiday — from the turkey to the cornbread dressing to the sweet potato pie — many of us will spend time reflecting on life’s blessings. We’ll rightly think of our neighbors, our friends, and our family — who bring richness into our lives. Or we’ll think about our great state of Arkansas, with its abundant natural resources and its millions of acres of fertile farmland. Or we’ll give thanks for our good health.

"Of course, an attitude of humble gratitude is fundamental for anyone who follows Jesus. In the Roman Catholic tradition of the Eucharist, Jesus gives us the bread from heaven, the bread of eternal life, as a sacrifice. 'Do this in memory of me,' he tells the disciples before his crucifixion. It’s in the Eucharist that we see the hand of God's saving providence, and we are grateful. The very word, 'Eucharist' means 'thanksgiving' in the original Greek.

"But even beyond our gratitude, I hope this Thanksgiving will invoke in us a spirit of sharing. And that we’ll take time to inquire about how we can alleviate the suffering of others. As Jesus said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Especially in the age of COVID-19, the needs of the vulnerable grow by the day.

"Think of how the pandemic has interrupted supply chains in countries already coping with chronic poverty, armed conflicts, and the devastating impacts of climate change. These threats have left an estimated 45 million people, more than 13 times the population of Arkansas, at the brink of starvation.

"What can we do, then, on this Thanksgiving to help our brothers and sisters in need? For one, we can volunteer our time at a local food pantry or shelter. We can also donate our money to faith-based and other reputable nonprofits that work tirelessly to support impoverished communities. For example, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on whose board of directors I serve, which was founded by the United States bishops in 1943, provides food, shelter, water, emergency relief and agricultural programming in over 100 countries around the world.

"Lastly, we can raise our voices by calling on Congress to fund programs that fight the scourges of hunger and poverty. For example, we can urge Congress to increase funding for programming such as Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole, which save lives every day. In addition, we can ask Congress to prioritize the poor when they reauthorize the Farm Bill and the Global Food Security Act.

"Make no mistake, if doing for others sounds like a lot to ask, it is. But as the pope himself reminds us, we are one human family. As he writes in his latest encyclical, 'Fratelli Tutti,' 'A worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.'

"Amidst the busyness of our lives, it’s easy to forget that we are inherently interdependent. For instance, maybe you were awakened by an alarm clock made by a Swiss mechanic, or you crawled out of bed from between sheets made of cotton raised in the Arkansas delta. Or your cereal came from an Oklahoma wheat field, or your coffee from a Guatemalan plantation. It’s astounding to think that these types of products help us get through our days but are made by people we’ll never know.

"All genuine gratefulness begins in remembrance. In remembering that the lion's share of our good fortune comes to us through the goodness of others, or for Catholics, from the goodness of God. So, as we celebrate around our Thanksgiving tables, let us be grateful and humble as we give thanks for the Lord’s blessings. As the Bible says, 'You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.' (Corinthians 9:11)

"Sincerely in Christ,
+Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock"