As we approach Thanksgiving, let us ask God for two simple graces: gratitude for what we have and empathy for those who have less.
May these graces together lead us to love God more fully through works of love in our world — feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the stranger, serving the poor, and pursuing justice for the oppressed.
Prayer for the End of Hunger
Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.
Sharing yourself in the bread and wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.
Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.
Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.
Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed
So we may all break bread together.
In your name we pray for the end of hunger.
(This prayer comes from JesuitResource.org and Xavier University.)
Luke 6:20-26 – The Beatitudes
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled."
Click here to read and pray with Luke 6.
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
Click here to read and pray with James 2.
|SPEECH (by Pedro Arrupe, S.J.)|
Eucharist and Hunger
Pedro Arrupe, S.J., delivered this address to the International Eucharistic Congress meeting in Philadelphia in 1976. His words are both an indictment of our wealthy society's inability to eliminate the hunger and a call to action.
"The problem of world hunger is not primarily an economic, a social or even a political one. It is basically a moral, a spiritual problem. The world’s hunger for food will only be satisfied when man learns to live not simply for himself, but for others, as Christ did. It will be satisfied only when the inner law of love, and not merely self-interest, greed or ambition, governs our individual and collective existence, inspires our policies and regulates our social structures and institutions. The world’s hunger for food will only be satisfied when man learns to hunger for God: for His love and His justice."
And something to think about:
"At the beginning of his presidency, John Fitzgerald Kennedy set two goals before the American people: the first was to get a man to the moon before the end of the decade; the other was to help eliminate hunger “within our lifetime.” It is a sad comment on the values of our civilization that the first technical and scientific goal was magnificently achieved, whereas the second more humanitarian and social one has receded ever further from our grasp."
Click here to read the full text of Fr. Arrupe's remarks (via Boston College).
|FACTS AND FIGURES|
Food Insecurity in America (and in your community)
Here are some basic facts and figures about hunger in America that you may not have known.
"What is food insecurity and what does it look like in America? Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods."
"Select your state and county on this map and start learning more about your neighbors struggling with hunger and the food banks that serve them." (source: FeedAmerica.org)
|MORE FACTS AND FIGURES|
Childhood Hunger in America
Did you know that the federal poverty level in 2018 was $25,750 for a family of four? More than 12 percent of Americans (or 40 million people) fall below this level.
"1 in 7 children in the United States lives with hunger. As you might imagine, hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families."
Click here to learn more about childhood hunger in the U.S.
(source: No Kid Hungry)
|FOOD DESERT LOCATOR|
What are food deserts and do they exist in the United States?
"Food deserts are defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers... The 'Food Desert Locator' is a part of [First Lady Michelle Obama's] Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity."
Click here for more information, including a map of food deserts in the U.S.
"The single most important fact about global hunger is this: You can help end it. Globally, about 800 million people suffer malnourishment. That’s a staggering figure. But only ten years ago the total was almost 1 billion. A drop of nearly 200 million in the number of chronically hungry people should encourage anyone committed to ending global hunger. It can be done." (source: Catholic Relief Services)
|VOLUNTEER / DONATE TO YOUR LOCAL FOOD BANK|
Start by Finding Your Local Food Bank, Then Get Invovled!
Feeding America has a great resource that helps you find food banks in your area. The represent a network of more than 200 food banks nation-wide.
Click here to find a food bank near you. (A quick Google search is also a good place to start.)
|NEED IDEAS? PICK ONE (out of 50)|
Fifty Ways Catholics Are Working on Ending Hunger Today
Here are fifty examples of Catholics around the world working to make sure no one goes hungry. Pick one to support.
Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in your community and build deeper connections with those in need. As Pope Francis said recently, we should ask ourselves: “Do I help someone who has nothing to give me in return? Do I, a Christian, have at least one poor person as a friend?”
A good place to start, if you're unsure of where to begin, is the Catholic Volunteer Network. Check out their website.
|FEED THE HUNGRY IN YOUR COMMUNITY|
Talk to your parish or local Catholic Charities
Many parishes provide food to the hungry through their own soup kitchen or food pantry, or they partner with a local organization that does. Talk to someone in your parish about how you can help feed the hungry.
Catholic Charities is also committed to ensuring access to proper nutrition. Contact your local Catholic Charities agency about what they need and how you can help.
An Ignatian Examen for Thanksgiving
God, we thank You.
You are the source of all creation. I thank You for the gifts You have given me. Let me thank You today, especially for the gift of this earth.
God, send Your Spirit upon us.
As I reflect on my day thus far, help me to recall the moments where I was most conscious of Your beautiful creation. What have I done today to care for the earth? As I go forth with the rest of my day, help me to be present to the gift of nature. Thank You, God, for this gift.
God, let us each look at the past week.
Recall your relationship with the Earth and with God. What joys do you find in these relationships? What are some of the challenges you may find? God, help me to improve my relationship with your creation so that I may be able to strengthen my relationship with You.
God, let us be grateful and ask for forgiveness.
Call to mind this past week. Where has God been most present to you? Was it something in nature? Or did you find God in a friend? Did music bring you alive with God's presence? Wherever you felt God's presence, think back to that moment, and pray from it.
God, stay close.
Look forward to tomorrow. Ask that God help you to see His grace incarnate in the dynamic interconnections of his creation. May you make a genuine effort to revere God's creation in all that you do.
This examen was adapted by Jesuits.org from Marquette University Campus Ministry.