A Thanksgiving prayer in the age of the coronavirus

The sacrifices we make today could save lives tomorrow.

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Church members avoid touching each other while praying at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March at Apostolic Faith Church in Bronzeville.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file photo

Today, many of us will say a prayer of gratitude around the dinner table.

This is my prayer.

Lord, help us do the right thing.

On Wednesday morning, I was still trying to decide whether I should risk going to my daughter and son-in-law’s house for their first Thanksgiving dinner in their first home.

Frankly, even though I nixed the family gathering at my house, I still wasn’t ready to pass the apron.

But the plea from health officials was clear: Avoid the traditional Thanksgiving gathering.

On Tuesday, there were 1,203 people receiving intensive care and 668 others were on ventilators due to COVID-19.

This virus tries us even when we aren’t infected.

For instance, recently Gov. J.B. Pritzker choked up when he talked about his daughter being subjected to Internet trolls after she was falsely accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions at an outdoor restaurant.

“That was a lie,” Pritzker told reporters, noting that his daughter is now out of the state.

If Pritzker can sit tight with his son under these circumstances, while his wife and daughter spend Thanksgiving in Florida, well, I guess I can get through the day without being surrounded by my grandchildren.

Lord, help us to have more empathy.

I actually feel sorry for Naperville mayor, Steve Chirico.

He is being publicly shamed for traveling to Naples, Florida, to attend his daughter’s wedding, Chicago Sun-Times political reporter, Rachel Hinton reported Tuesday.

In an irate twitter post, his niece put him on blast for being at the wedding.

The father-of-the-bride was forced to defend his decision.

“My family and I all took COVID tests and tested negative prior to traveling to Florida … It was an outdoor wedding and reception with a total of 53 guests. Upon my return to Naperville, I will be quarantining and testing again,” the mayor said in a written statement.

But when a photograph of the wedding party turned up on social media and no one had on a mask, the mayor looked like the typical “do-as-I-say-not as-I-do” leader.

Still, what father-of-the-bride wouldn’t have done the same?


Parishioners of Sacred Heart Croatian Parish kneel while socially distanced in June.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file photo

Lord, help us to be our brother’s keeper.

Some of us, particularly young folk, are still feeling invincible despite the COVID-19 surge.

But after eight months of fighting this global pandemic, we should all be aware that when we fail to take measures that health professionals say will keep us safe, we are putting at risk the lives of people who don’t have a choice.

We call them essential workers, but they can’t work from home and they can’t avoid interactions with others.

They are the strangers that we don’t even think about until we are in need of their services, like nurses, cabdrivers, maintenance workers and post office workers.

Tragically, more than 12,000 people have died in Illinois from the coronavirus, and we are in the middle of a surge that health professionals predict could kill 1,000 more people before the year ends.

To put those deaths into perspective, the city has reached 700 homicides so far in 2020, a milestone that most Chicagoans find alarming.

“Without even knowing it, you could be putting your friends and your family or yourself in grave danger,” said Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a coronavirus briefing Tuesday, where officials cautioned against Thanksgiving gatherings.

Finally, Lord bless our leaders for the sacrifices they have made.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, for instance, has a 92-year-old mother. I’m sure she would love to be celebrating Thanksgiving with her rather than pleading with us to not make Thanksgiving the gateway to a Christmas filled with personal tragedy.

Besides the emotional strain this pandemic has taken on our elected officials, it has likely raised blood pressures as they struggled to keep things running in a city, county and state ravaged by economic shutdowns.

I may not agree with everything they do, but I am grateful for their willingness to serve.

Happy Thanksgiving — in spite of.


Volunteers from the neighborhood and from St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church’s parish set up hundreds of candles on an altar in front of the church earlier this month to represent those who have died because of the coronavirus.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

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