So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”– 1 Corinthians 13:13
Every year, the weather begins to get crisp – much like the skin on Thanksgiving turkeys that roast, bake and deep fry in households across the nation – and we naturally transition into the holiday season.
The hallmark of this season is to run themes of charity, selflessness and expound the notion of promoting goodwill towards fellow men and women into the ground through tear-jerking advertising campaigns – mostly targeted towards potential customers, of course.
Mixing commercialism with altruism is certainly nothing new, but during the holiday season the overtly phony attempts to influence your good conscious into buying things gets to a point where some may start to feel the opposite reaction than intended. They may start to feel as though the true spirit of the holidays is something reserved for old movies and memories of simpler times.
And then a community church burns – and we see the spirit of the holidays is very much alive.
It might seem a stretch to take something as horrible as a church fire destroying a place of worship on Thanksgiving Eve as a symbol of true human kindness and sympathy, but that’s exactly what happened in the wake of Woodbury Union catching ablaze.
We see the best in humanity so often, ironically, in the wake of tragedies that test our limits and challenge us to persevere. We saw that through the tireless efforts of Warwick firefighters, who battled the blaze for hours to contain it as best as possible and mitigate the damage. They succeeded, and parishioners were able to salvage some truly irreplaceable items from the scorched aftermath.
While some topics – politics, mostly politics – bring out a majority of people in online communities looking to put down others and portray a general sense of negativity, in the wake of tragedies we see exactly the opposite. If there is any negativity it is a drop amidst a vast ocean of well-wishes, thoughts, prayers and people offering help however they can. Despite what cynics may have you believe, most people don’t want to see others in pain, or see bad things happen. In the darkest times, this becomes most apparent.
Another common theme of the holiday season, naturally, is a heightened focus on religion. Christmas obviously plays a big part in this, but the other major monotheistic religions also partake in celebrations this time of year, and so we hear spiritual music on the radio and watch movies about heavenly guardian angels getting their wings by saving human souls on Earth.
Once more, the sometimes-selective nature of people that choose the holidays as the one time of year that they exercise their pious muscles may become a point of derision and criticism of others. Certainly, churches are much fuller during holiday season observances than, say, a random Sunday in the middle of May. The more cynical individual may begin to believe that most who claim to be religious only hold Christmas in their hearts once a year – despite what Charles Dickens’ masterpiece taught us.
But then a church burns – and we see that true benevolent religiosity very much exists in the hearts of those within our community.
Without any hesitation, Father Robert Marciano of St. Benedict and St. Kevin Churches opened up their doors to members of Woodbury Union, pledging them a space to grieve, pray and find spiritual balance amidst a turbulent, sorrowful time. It epitomized the soul of Christianity – giving unto others in need, for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.
We have no doubt that whether this fire occurred in the middle of the summer, the end of January or as it really did – in the midst of the kickoff of the holidays – the response would have been exactly the same. The firefighters would have done their job, and people would rally behind those who have been affected. Those with good in their hearts will always do good, especially when it matters most.
For this reason, we can safely say that no amount of commercialism can destroy holiday spirit – for holiday spirit is rooted in something much deeper, more human, than any new gadget or toy.