Thought for the Week with Mr Richard McDermott, Catholic Parishioner at The Immaculate Conception, Stroud

ONE has only to listen to the radio, watch or read the news, both locally and nationally, to be surrounded by negative thoughts that are both dark and depressing.

Child abuse, teenage suicides, prolific numbers of violent crimes particularly stabbings, redundancies, increased numbers of people sleeping rough and whole families on or very near to the poverty line.

The list is apparently endless, and many mindsets seem to dwell on these aspects with little or no suggestion of how to bring about change for the better.

We, as Christians and good people of Stroud, often like to think we are not part of this spiral of violence, despair and destruction.

We feel we are far removed from that world.

However, reality tells us that whilst there are many wonderful local community projects, we too are not immune from our own ‘world’ of poverty and decline.

What can we as Christians do to help alleviate this situation?

We can, in this ‘Year of Prayer’ designated by Pope Francis, continue to pray, both alone and together for change, whilst serving our neighbours in different ways.

Maybe in our own family we have someone who is feeling sick or worried.

Are we there for them?

We have old and often lonely people in homes.

Do we visit them and provide them with someone to talk to and share a smile?

After all, love is meant to begin at home!

Perhaps if we can ensure this, we can move into the wider sphere.

St Teresa of Calcutta said it is easy to love people who are far away, and easy to think of hungry people in different parts of the world, but that we must first ensure there is love in our own homes, at our next-door neighbours, in our street and in our own town.

Kind and thoughtful actions offer a concrete expression of love and something we may consider insignificant can make all the difference.

Perhaps in serving other people’s needs, we may find we are also fulfilling our own poverty, our neediness and our darkness that we didn’t even know exists.