This issue of the Prairie Messenger will be the last before the staff takes a three-week holiday. The next issue will be dated Aug. 30.
Canadians take vacation time for granted. It is written into our legal codes and the human benefits of leisure and time away from work are appreciated. However, concern is being raised over how difficult it is for some people to take a vacation, given that the computer and smartphone make it too easy to continue one’s work schedule.
“Keep holy the Sabbath Day,” the Ten Commandments recommend. The Lord rested on the seventh day, the Bible tells us. And we are urged to do the same. Rest from ceaseless labour is written into our DNA.
Canada provides a good environment for a vacation. Tourists delight in our natural assets. Canada boasts of the Rocky Mountains. We have the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. We have endless forests and lakes. We have more fresh water than any other nation. We have a wide variety of wild animals and birds. There is so much we can be thankful for.
A recent visitor from Vietnam was asked what he liked about Canada. His immediate reply was “the fresh air.” He came from a city of 10 million people and its pollution.
Even our winters have their benefits. I once asked some visitors from the east and west coasts of Canada why they came to Saskatchewan in February to attend a two-week workshop. They said, “Because you have sunshine!” Their own climate was milder but also featured constant clouds.
We can easily take our natural resources for granted because “that’s how it always has been.”
In addition to our geographical diversity, we also live in a peaceful country. Canada has never suffered the ravages of war, as have most other countries. Yes, our soldiers have taken part in wars in other parts of the world, but we don’t have to worry about land mines or buried bombs in our backyard.
The Messenger has informed our readers of the dire situation residents of many countries face today. This week, among other items, we can read about the horrible effects of the war in Iraq. Christians used to live in harmony with their Muslim neighbours. Now, ISIS has destroyed any semblance of civilization and it will take years for Christians to return to cities like Mosul, once a historic and thriving centre.
“The war isn’t finished yet and neither is the Islamic State. There is no stability and there is still fighting in Mosul,” said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, who visited Mosul recenly. He was touring churches left badly damaged during the city’s three-year occupation by ISIS extremists. “How can Christians return when there are homes destroyed and there are no services?” he asked. But most important is safety, he added.
The Central African Republic is another case in point where conflict and violence make any normal life impossible, as reported in this week’s Messenger. Catholic aid workers report that there is a worsening crisis in the country, as church centres are attacked and armed groups fight over territory and resources. They are also attacking international aid organizations. Conditions are deteriorating dramatically as conflicts multiply, aid workers report. At least 100,000 people have been displaced by fighting since April, and close to a million people have left.
Refugees are more numerous today than at any other time in history. The same is true for the persecution of Christians. Trafficking of human beings is also a scourge many nations face.
As Canadians enjoy their holidays, we have much to be thankful for and celebrate. We also have to be on guard that we don’t lose what we can easily take for granted.