If you are like most of us, you are probably relieved that 2021 has come to an end and holding your breath for what 2022 may bring. With inflation, rising gas and grocery prices, crime, violence, Austria’s lockdowns, problems within Church leadership, and so much more that fills the nightly news, it’s easy to think that nothing good happened this year. However, God is still God regardless of the circumstances and prayer changes things. So, before we want to stick the year 2021 in a corner and give it a permanent time-out, let’s take a look at some good things that happened which many of us may be aware of and some you may not have known:
1.) Juneteenth was made a federal holiday
On June 17, President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday. The signing of the legislation permanently established a recognition of slavery’s end. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the enslaved in Texas received word from Union soldiers that the Confederate Army had surrendered. The troops came into Galveston, Texas and took control of the state and, as a result, they freed all the slaves. Advocacy work had been going on for decades to get the date recognized as a federal holiday. Prior to the signing of the legislation by President Biden, many states were already recognizing the date. Several states, such as Texas, New York, Virginia, and Washington already provided a paid holiday for state employees for Juneteenth and many celebrations across the country are held. However, the signing of the legislation celebrates the time when this country recognized that the enslaved had value and dignity. They were not lesser than others and they should be valued. Although we, as a country, had a long way to go (and still do in many areas), the federal holiday brings to a national level the attention needed to remember where we have come and where we still need to reach. It brings about hope that one day we can all see each other for who we are and not the color of our skin. It’s the first declared national holiday by a president since the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.
2.) Supreme Court sides with Texas abortion law
In December, the Supreme Court sided with the State of Texas and upheld the state’s law that prohibited abortions after six weeks. Although not a total win for Texas and pro-life advocates, it’s a beginning to protecting life from the moment of conception. The Supreme Court did allow for challenges to the law, although on very narrow grounds. The ruling did not overturn Roe v. Wade, which is the goal so that every life is valued and defended beginning at conception. The law, which Texas passed in September, declares that once a heartbeat can be detected (typically around six weeks after conception), the woman cannot have an abortion and abortion providers are not allowed legally to provide an abortion following the detection of a heartbeat.
3.) Return to Mass
The year 2020 brought an end to in-person Mass across the world in most areas. Many of us can recall the iconic photo of an empty St. Peter’s Square. Most dioceses and bishops canceled in-person Masses, causing even the Easter Vigils to be closed, in 2020 because of COVID-19. However, the churches have reopened, and Mass has been accessible once again to Catholics desiring to receive the Lord in the Eucharist again. Although it seems that many parishes have not fully returned to normal and still have a few restrictions, such as withholding the chalice and only providing the host for Catholics to receive, it is certainly something worth celebrating that Mass is once again accessible to Catholics.
4.) A human brain was wirelessly connected to a computer
Good news came for those who are paralyzed. Researchers at BrainGate successfully connected the human brain to a computer, which provides more ability and freedom to those paralyzed. They were able to send “the first-ever, full-spectrum wireless signals from human brains to computer,” according to the Nerdist. BrainGates’s successful experimentation at wirelessly connecting the brain and the computer will allow those who are physically unable to type on a computer or an iPad to use their brain to do those activities. The technology “allows users to point, click, and type on standard tablet computers.”
5.) Cathedral in Bahrain consecrated to Our Lady
A Cathedral in Bahrain was consecrated in December to Our Lady of Arabia. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle consecrated the cathedral and, according to CNA, described it as “a living sign of God’s care for his flock.” Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gave the land for the cathedral as a gift to Catholics. The consecration of the cathedral is eight years in the making, stemming from the initial decision in 2013 to build it.
Bahrain is an island nation in the Persian Gulf. According to CAN, there are an estimated 80,000 Catholics in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Our Lady of Arabia is the primary saint of Arabia and Kuwait. The title was officially approved in 1948.
There are many great stories and things which have happened in 2021. The stories may not make the national headlines, they are certainly worth exploring. The good news is not limited to that which is happening within the Church. There are countless stories of individuals making a difference. Do a quick internet search for good stories which occurred in 2021 and you might just be surprised what you will find.