I hope we all had a happy and relaxed time for Thanksgiving, with family and friends. Thanksgiving has put us into the start of the holiday mindset – a whole season of celebrations, excitement, and joy. Generally, we use positive terms to wish one another:
“Happy Thanksgiving.” “Happy Hanukkah.” “Merry Christmas.” “Happy New Year” or, for those who are concerned about political correctness, “Happy Holidays!” But not everyone feels happiness. Studies show that holidays evoke not just feelings of happiness and enjoyment but also sadness, cynicism, and even loneliness. How do we help and support those who don’t find calendar holidays a time to celebrate?
Psychologists and counselors recognize high levels of stress and unhappy feelings during this season. They suggest many tips to maintain balance and prioritize one’s mental health – including a healthy lifestyle with quality sleep, regular exercise, and a nutrient-dense diet. One tip is to connect and reach out for support. Small groups like family, close friends, and church groups can be a big source of support. I believe it is here that you and I can be observant to sense feelings of unhappiness or depression in individuals around us, so we can reach out to them and offer them encouragement.
As believers, one tip that we can practice, as well as suggest to others, is to turn our emotions over to God and pray for peace and connection every time we feel down. I found Psalm 30 very helpful. Its dominant theme is thanksgiving for God’s deliverance. In nearly every line the psalmist either expresses thanks and praise for God’s deliverance or describes the circumstances of that deliverance. Keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving, all the days after Thanksgiving Day, is the best way to stay happy.
Today’s Feast of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (formerly known as Feast of Christ the King) is the signal that the Church’s calendar year is coming to an end and that we are about to start the new year! Thus, the First Sunday of the New Year in the Liturgical Calendar is next Sunday as we begin the season of Advent! It is good for us to know that today’s feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life that leaves God out of our thinking and living and organizes human life as if God did not exist. This feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. May we all recognize this truth and continue our efforts to honor Jesus by living his values in our lives.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal