Reprinted with permission.
It’s the kickoff for the Thanksgiving season, my all-time favorite holiday.
The time for reflection and gratitude is this wonderful secular experience to set our priorities straight. The only expectation is to appreciate our blessings and to help others who don’t have as much.
No costumes, candy or gifts.
Some people are starting to list the things they are thankful for on social media. Some are posting favorite sayings or Biblical phrases. Some are finding cool inspirational stories to share.
My favorite link so far goes to Pope Francis. I’m a fan for many reasons. Mostly, I admire his devotion to social justice, living simplicity and overall kindness and openness.
In the summer, he gave an interview to the Argentine weekly publication “Viva” and included a top ten list for living a happy life.
The Catholic News Service reprinted the Pope’s message in English. It’s worth recirculating as Americans enter the holiday season:
- “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”
- “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”
- “Proceed calmly.” The pope used an image from an Argentine novel describing life as various forms of water. He prefers a pool of water for its “ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life.”
- “A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said. Consumerism has led to stress, anxiety and loss of time. The Pontiff says though parents work long hours, they must set aside time to be with their children. This means turning off the television during mealtimes.
- Sundays should be holidays. “Sunday is for family,” he said.
- Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “It’s not enough to give them food,” he said. “Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home” from one’s own labor.
- Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'”
- Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'” the pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”
- Don’t proselytize; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing,” the pope said.
- Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.
by Ginnie Graham 918-581-8376