Dear Sister and Brother Vincentians:
Peace be with you. Holiday season 2020 has arrived! We just celebrated Thanksgiving. It came in the wake of devastating natural disasters, contentious elections, an unstable economy, and, of course, a relentlessly brutal pandemic. Perhaps times of crises present a good time to give thanks for all that we have and tend to take for granted during “better times”.
President Abraham Lincoln helped make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 – during the height of the Civil War. With this nation seemingly hopelessly entrenched in a most brutal battle for survival, President Lincoln advocated for a national holiday that “promoted the healing of the wounds of our nation.” Imagine that!
Since then, our nation has celebrated Thanksgiving even through the worst of times, e.g. wars, 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Whatever the situation in our nation, Thanksgiving, a most special holiday, helps us to focus on gratitude.
This year, even if we celebrated Thanksgiving in a non-traditional, socially distanced way, it is undeniable that we have SO much for which to be thankful. This holiday season, let us focus on that undeniable reality.
Briefly, let me share just one of countless ways for expressing gratitude. It can be safely undertaken in the comfort of your home.
Covid-19 continues. Understandably, after ten months, many are feeling very fatigued and frustrated. We should stay vigilant in our efforts to help mitigate the spread of this insidious virus, e.g. masks, social distancing, sanitizing, etc. At the same time, think of how many courageously continue to do what they can during this health crisis to help those in need, i.e. all of us. That is so inspirational! Our Vincentians continue to serve neighbors in need. They not only serve, but also see themselves in kinship with those in need. Similarly, our Boards, committee members, and outside consultants have helped us remain remarkably stable during this pandemic. Finally, our SVdPD staff has remained incredibly focused. Their talents and collective dedication to our mission inspire me daily.
In addition, think of all those who have weathered this deadly threat to help all of us stay within shouting distance of “normalcy.” For example, first responders, teachers, friends, essential workers, parents and grandparents, fellow employees, clients, donors, and so many others have courageously remained outwardly focused to help others.
How many people have helped you these past, very challenging ten months? In my case, scores and scores of people come to my mind. This holiday season, in the spirit of heartfelt gratitude, I plan to reach out to as many as I can – as I am doing herein – to express my sincere appreciation for their sharing this rugged journey this past year. I humbly suggest that you consider doing the same.
Together, let us create a tsunami of positive e-mail and social media communications that express gratitude for what we are blessed to have in our lives. My life has surely been enriched because of you. Thank you.
In his book Turn Everything to Love, Robert P. Maloney, C.M. says “Be grateful even in the midst of adversity, illness and crises. Be aware that God is with you and give thanks for that abiding presence.”
This holiday season, let’s reflect on the gift of our blessings and remain full of hope that together we will emerge from this dreadful challenge stronger and more compassionate. Stay safe. Merry Christmas! God bless.
In Blessed Frederic Ozanam’s name,