Eucharist is the true food of thanksgiving

Published: November 20, 2017

Eucharistic Adoration in Arkansas

Catholic parishes across the Diocese of Little Rock offer adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the year. To find adoration times in your area, click on the schedule above.

"In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, we take part in a tradition that began in 1621 when Gov. Bradford of the Plymouth colony called for a day of public praise and prayer to celebrate the first harvest. This came after many setbacks and hardships had plagued these settlers of the New World. 

Although it is important to have a day dedicated to being grateful for our blessings and fellowship, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor cautions us not to let Thanksgiving be the only day we give thanks. 

"When Thanksgiving is celebrated as an isolated event that does not flow from an everyday attitude of humble gratitude, it can easily degenerate into a celebration of the superiority of our nation and indeed the pride of place of certain groups of people in our national self-understanding," he said in his 2016 Thanksgiving homily.

"The Puritans interpreted God's goodness to them to be a sign of God's favor for them, over and against the pagan Native Americans through whom — ironically — they had received that goodness.

"An attitude of humble gratitude is fundamental for anyone who would follow Jesus. The Eucharist that we celebrate all year long is the greatest thanksgiving banquet available in this life and a foretaste of the even greater eucharistic banquet that awaits us in the kingdom of heaven.

"Indeed, the very word, 'Eucharist' literally means "thanksgiving" in the original Greek. We see in this banquet the hand of God's saving providence and we are grateful. But when we leave this place, what kind of attitude will we take with us into the rest of life? ...

"In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us the food of the New World that he has founded — the kingdom of God," the bishop explained. "This new food saves us far more effectively than the turkey, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and cranberries eaten that first Thanksgiving Day. It is bread from heaven, the bread of eternal life, which we receive and for which we literally give thanks in every Eucharist." Read his entire homily.

"An attitude of humble gratitude is fundamental for anyone who would follow Jesus."

We invite you to combine Thanksgiving Day and the Eucharist — the true food of thanksgiving by going to Mass. Contact a parish near you to find Mass times for Thanksgiving. In addition, many parishes offer adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharist) throughout the year.

If you are not already spending an hour with Jesus in prayer at your parish, we invite you to start. Many have found it very helpful in gaining, as the bishop recommends, an "attitude of humble gratitude."

To learn more about connecting the Catholic faith with the Thanksgiving holiday, read about the origins of Thanksgiving or the book "Eucharist," by Bishop Robert Barron. Visit Franciscan Media or Busted Halo to see options for Thanksgiving prayers or related saints.