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Dear Friends,

In the midst of the recent series of Washington D.C.-area shootings, one local resident said, “It hasn’t been this frightening since 9/11.” The character of these murders, random and intruding into the lives of ordinary people as they went about ordinary business, reminds Americans of their feelings of September of last year, feelings of vulnerability and fear.

Yet, as people of faith, fear must not be a dominant influence in our lives. One theme of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate has been the reiteration of Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:10: “Be not afraid.” The world may be a frightening place at times—and fear is a natural emotion—but the virtue of courage enables us to persevere in the face of difficulty and, instead of being paralyzed by fear, to act in a way that brings the Gospel message to those whose lives we touch.

In this season of Thanksgiving, then, we should renew our efforts to focus not on those elements in life that cause fear, but on those for which we are thankful.

For all of their negativity, the recent shootings have highlighted the fact that we have much to be grateful for. Most of us, most of the time, are free to go about the daily routines of our lives—engaging in work, commerce, education, worship, entertainment—without looking over our shoulders and worrying about persecution or violence. The generally free society in which we live, characterized by the rule of law and rooted in the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, has made this state of affairs possible.

Especially in times of fear and uncertainty, let us not take these blessings for granted; rather, let us offer gratitude to God and put our abiding faith in him. The Acton Institute is grateful for its many faithful supporters, who help us to promote the free society around the world.


Rev. Robert A. Sirico