Fr Freeman's Editorial for the Spring 2022 Edition opens with a powerful letter

Recently a thought-provoking letter arrived on my desk. It speaks for itself.

Dear Father,
My wife and I feel we should share the following with you as you know our family situation. Last Friday during our evening meal, our eldest son with whom, given his rebellious nature, we have had problems for quite some time, came out with the following.

“Mum and Dad, I want to say something, and I don’t want you to interrupt me. I have been doing a bit of thinking lately and I now realise how difficult I have been to you both. I have been very ungrateful for all you have done for me, given me life, food, a home and at cost to yourself, an education- things that so many other kids miss out on."

"I realise now how ungrateful I have been and want to thank you both for all you have done for me since I was born right up to this meal. In the future things will be different.”

Somewhat taken by surprise and lost for words, all that two tearful parents could give him was a long warm hug. He has been true to his words often saying ‘thank you’ especially to his mother. What a turnaround! How grateful we are in our turn to him. Our family life has taken on a new meaning and feeling.

I am sure you will be pleased to hear about it.

Giving thanks creates a powerful feeling!

Indeed, I was! Gratitude is a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships. It is the virtue of rejoicing in what is. It is expressing the joy we feel in our appreciation of the goodness of others.

Gratitude is an effective antidote to many destructive emotions. In psychological research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Don Bosco held that “Everything fades away, but not our gratitude. We educators should realize that our fine youth, or nearly all, are smart enough to sense the good done to them and innately open to sentiments of gratitude.”

He would certainly agree with the great Roman philosopher Cicero that “gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others”.

At the heart of the Rector Major’s article in this edition is an account of his visit to a Salesian School in Zimbabwe and a small boy’s expression of gratitude for his visit by offering him a small personal gift.

The language of gratitude consists of only two simple words, ”thank you”, yet they have the power to greatly enrich our daily lives by warming family and friendship bonds, and dispelling tensions. So let each of our days ring out with a chorus of “thank yous”. Miracles will happen.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of the Salesian Bulletin, which is available now!