CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation
I have to confess, this year I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. These days I have felt more like Mr. Scrooge, more ready to say, “Bah Humbug!” than “Merry Christmas!” Maybe you know the feeling. You are running around, feeling stretched, fighting traffic, trying as hard as you can to get your challenging work done while dealing with people fussing — on top of preparing for the holiday season. Meanwhile the news proclaims constant doom and gloom while marketers pitch perky happy holiday themes. The wicked prosper while ordinary people suffer. It sometimes feels like we are being infected by a social virus of short-triggered sensitivity and grumpiness while being expected to be in a holiday mood. Bah Humbug!
However, I have found some antidotes to the viruses of fear, anger, despair, greed, and desire. The medicine is a concoction of prayer, community, and caring. I find that when I take time to pray and meditate – to actually breathe (as my wife reminds me), I can let go of the external noise and focus on the gentle presence of the Spirit. I find when I pay attention to family and friends and colleagues, when I listen, when I am truly present, then I don’t focus on my ego but can receive the joy of companionship and creativity. And perhaps the best medicine of all is when I can see the joy and hope in someone else’s eyes as their lives are transformed by a caring act.
My heart is lifted up and my burden is lightened when I witness the dedication and compassion of neighborhood moms who volunteer through Catholic Charities to strengthen their families and their neighborhood. I forget my grumpiness when I watch young scholars study diligently with the help of their Catholic Charities after-school teacher. I sigh with relief when I hear of the safe arrival of a refugee orphan. I release my anxiety when I hear the story of two clients who found affordable housing with each other through Catholic Charities House Sharing program. And my heart sings with joy as I watch seniors in our Adult Day Care engage in art and music and play in a safe healing place. This is truly the antidote to the “humbug” feeling.
This Christmas, you can make a difference in the life of a child, a senior or a family who needs your help. I invite you to be generous this year and give through Catholic Charities to truly change lives for good. Every new and increased gift to Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is being matched 2:1 by the Sobrato Family Foundation.
Take some Christmas medicine. It’s good for the soul. And it’s a blessing for those who need our help.
For more information please visit, www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.