As we enjoy another Christmas season, I think we always look ahead with anticipation of a time for gift giving, seeing relatives and friends and celebrating the birth of the infant Jesus. One of my favourite Christmas movies is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (of course, “Elf” is a close second).
There are many fine versions of A Christmas Carol and whenever I watch it, I imagine life in Dickens England of the early to mid 1800’s. This was of course the time that Frederic Ozanam and the founding fathers of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul were beginning the formation and work of the Society in Paris, France. The picture of poverty and injustice, of the growing distance between the haves and have nots and the lack of any form of social assistance is an integral part of the book and movie and was a reality in both England, France and in many countries.
The other side of the movie is how there were people who did respect the dignity of all and how we can change both personally and structurally. I think at times we may all have a little of the old Scrooge in our lives, but we also could change, to care and to see the love and beauty we can experience and share through our words and actions. I doubt if Dickens and Ozanam ever met, but I am certain they would have had a very lively discussion if they had.
Another part of this Christmas and Advent season is how illness and death always seem to be more noticeable. The sad news of someone’s death or serious illness can be a very emotional time for all of us, but particularly this time of year. I would like to invite everyone to remember in prayer and reflection relatives, friends and neighbours who have passed away recently or are gravely ill. Let us also remember those we don’t know but are suffering from poor health, emotional stress, substance or physical abuse or simply loneliness. May God bless and comfort everyone.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.