FAMILY MATTERS 2011 – OCTOBER THEME:
INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE
PASSION FOR MISSION
SACBC Family Life Desk News
2011 Family Calendar and themes,
October theme: Instruments of Peace
Parish Family Ministry
BITS AND BYTES Family Hour and more
FINALLY…… on the lighter side
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PASSION FOR MISSION
The word passion with its various interpretations seems to be very popular nowadays. I drove next to a government vehicle that carried the slogan “passion for you.” Coaches – not sporting ones – advocate the need for passion as a necessary attribute for achieving one’s goals in life. During the Fr Chuck Gallagher days of Marriage Encounter we were encouraged to “pray for passion” for one’s marriage relationship. Advertisers too like to use the term. For Christians the term passion automatically leads us to think of Jesus and Good Friday too.
So clearly there are different uses for the word and the concept behind the word too. I think that during October, Mission Month it is also appropriate to use it in this context “Passion for Mission.” That certainly did bring 1000s of missionaries from the north and west into the south and east. On the whole it was likely a more restrained kind of passion than is demonstrated in some of today’s missionary enterprises of all denominations and faiths. Is the common mission the good and the betterment of humankind? Is it personal gain or is it action for the greater glory of God? This struck me as the reason for the labour of love in building the beautiful and massive European cathedrals I visited on a tour some years ago.
In one of the songs from The Fiddler on the Roof, Perchik, a freedom fighter in his day sings, “How can I help to make them understand why I do, what I do?” Many of us may not even be sure what the passion is that drives us to do what we do as missionaries. Fr X is passionate about youth ministry to university students, Fr Y is passionate about evangelisation, Sr Z about liturgy or human trafficking. Fr Russell Campbell, who died on 25th September after a short illness, was passionate about prison ministry and of course I am quite often in hot water about being too passionate about the family as the little church of the home. So the missionaries of today are priests and sisters some of whom have come from afar. They are also laity who come from their own life experience and spirituality and feel called to minister to others. Recent popes and other Church leaders repeatedly call on the laity as missionaries or evangelisers of our day. Unfortunately not much formation is provided for some of the lay missionaries. We don’t have 7 years or more in the seminary, not even one year in preparation for a life-time commitment to a marriage partner or for parenting and this is a serious lack that must be addressed if the Church of the future is to be served effectively by more and more laity.
Resources are available but not always well used. Hope and Joy, a Southern African networking initiative seeks to revisit the teaching of the 2nd Vatican Council. Purely from a family focus, Gaudium et Spes includes the message of the Council. But much has developed too beyond that. The encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae still continues to cause a storm. The 1980 Synod of Bishops on the Family resulted in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio of John Paul in 1981, the establishment of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Charter of Rights of the Family in 1983. From 1979 to 1984 the Holy Father was also developing his Theology of the Body which is growing in popularity including with young people. The African Synod image of The Church as Family-of God, which uses the ideal African family as a model for the Church is particularly helpful. So there is no shortage of resources from the teaching office of the Church. From about the same time a number of movements and support programmes have appeared focusing on a variety of aspects of marriage and family life. Family ministry offices and portfolios have sprung up, or maybe at times been literally kick-started or limped into life.
Familiaris Consortio has great value as a statement and teaching document. It describes the family as “an intimate community of life and love bonded together for life by blood, marriage or adoption.” It sets out the tasks of a family in Church and society: 1. To form its own intimate community, 2. To serve life. 3. To build up society and 4. To share in the life and mission of the Church. These points form a very useful foundation for the work of the SACBC Family Life Desk in setting up diocesan and parish family projects. The call to evangelise is there, the call to mission is there, the need to build strong relationships on a human level is there too. The need for passion exists and there are those, not nearly enough in my view, who are passionate to respond to the call of Pope John Paul II, also re-presented often by Pope Benedict XVI, “Families become what you are, the little church of the home” because “the future of the Church and of the world is through the family.”
The 30th anniversary of Familiaris Consortio is an important milestone to mark where we are and how far we have come. The state of our families and the myriad needs in order to become little churches, places for praying and for playing as MARFAM says, show us how far we still have to go. For now let’s celebrate 30 down and pray for passion as true Instruments of Peace, our October 2011 family theme.
CURRENT MARFAM PUBLICATIONS: See www.marfam.org.za/blog for article INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE – St Francis and the Damietta Peace Initiative and October poem
The MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIVING magazine for October – December 2011 has now been distributed. It covers the PEACE BEGINS AT HOME themes with an article on the Damietta Peace Initiative by Fr Kees Thonissen linking with the October theme “Instruments of Peace.” An article on ministry to the dying and on peace in the home as well as the usual reflections, family catechesis and a reflection on Mother Teresa and Something Beautiful for God.
For the month of the Rosary we promote A MOVEMENT OF CONTINUOUS PRAYER FOR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE, which can be used as a prayer chain in a parish or community. Praying the rosary with each decade for different family needs can be done using the booklet AN HOUR OF PRAYER FOR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE. Cost R10. Hello Mary is a pamphlet for small children. Cost R5.
See www.marfam.org.za/blog for 2011/2012 Year Planner calendar info.
MARFAM has been very busy producing the first of a set of small simple DAY BY DAY WITH GOD AND FAMILY reflection booklets as a help for the SACBC Family Life Desk’s 2011/ 2012 Family Year Planner. Part 1 covers the time from Advent to Lent.
For November with its theme ETERNAL LIFE, ETERNAL PEACE we have Stations of the Cross for those who are widowed in English, Zulu and Tswana as well as the Redemptorist booklet BECOMING WIDOWED.
MARFAM’s Board and Editorial Committee continue to discern the needs of families, parishes and the Church in and through the publications and welcome your comments too on layout, format, language, accessibility, etc. In particular we invite comments on the new booklet DAY BY DAY WITH GOD AND FAMILY as another different kind of resource. It will be distributed towards the end of October.
How do we reach young technologically savvy people, business and government workers and rural grandmothers? Price is an issue but knowing what books and magazines cost and what people do buy we ask if it is real concern? Are we relevant, are people indifferent as has also been said, or are we not known and promoted in the wider Church community? Do we need more writers, marketing expertise? What can you do to assist us in practical ways?
SACBC FAMILY LIFE DESK NEWS
See www.marfam.org.za/blog and also see www.sacbc.org.za as information is updated.
The SACBC Family Life Desk theme for the year PEACE ON EARTH BEGINS AT HOME applies the focus of the 2nd African Synod of 2009, “Church as Family in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.” Read more
The 2011 family calendar is widely used in homes and parishes as a family education and enrichment tool. Some parishes base their year plan around these monthly themes. Download the explanatory leaflet and monthly reflections for the Sunday readings from www.marfam.org.za/blog. Request translations by email into Afrikaans, Tswana, Sesotho, North Sotho and Zulu.
OCTOBER – INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE
Evangelisation, passing on the good news of God’s love, is the mission of the Church-as-Family and of all people of good will. The Church cannot be a true family if its human families in their domestic churches are not living out this mission in their own setting, being instruments of reconciliation and peace to one another and then to the wider community.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Saint Francis of Assisi
FAMILY LIFE DESK OPERATIONS AND NETWORKING
One of the FL Desk’s main objectives is assisting dioceses to establish a family office or desk. This entails contact with the bishop, addressing meetings of priests and diocesan pastoral councils as well as representatives of diocesan organizations. Structures need to be put in place, needs established, programmes devised and training given. But the bottom line remains are we enhancing families’ relationship with God and with one another.
An ADVISORY COMMITTEE has been formed for the Family Life Desk, as one person operating alone, even though it is within the Evangelisation Department, makes researching, developing and implementing a difficult task. The “constituency” of the Desk consists of family movements, diocesan, deanery and parish family ministry teams. Representatives from those areas will form part of the committee.
The focus areas selected by the recent Family Leaders Conference, i.e. strengthening parenting relationships and a particular focus on the role of men will be incorporated into the family apostolate work for 2012.
2012 FAMILY CALENDAR. For some years the Desk has been producing a calendar as a formation tool for family education and enrichment. For the liturgical year 2011/2012 a Family Year Planner has been produced which will be accompanied by a small booklet for reflection, prayer and sharing on liturgical and monthly themes. See flyer and order information to be published.
As costs have been kept to a minimum (from bulk price of R250 for 100 calendars) parishes can encourage every family to have their own FAMILY YEAR PLANNER with their own special family dates.
Networking also happens with other Church departments, NGOs and the Department of Social Development Family Directorate. It is hoped too to strengthen the network of faith-based organizations. Just as there is a National Religious Leaders Forum there could be such a grouping focused specifically on family needs.
The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office is planning some Round Table discussions around the governments Green Paper on the National Family Policy. These are important opportunities for us as an FBO to engage. Information about these will be circulated when available.
Suggestions or requests for strengthening the family apostolate are invited from anywhere in the network.
PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY is an ongoing project of the Family Life Desk.
At a September 3 workshop in Pretoria enjoyed planning a possible parish Heritage Month celebration. This kind of activity can bring cultural and spiritual elements together. We await their report back. Sharing information, materials and skills is a powerful resource in itself.
AN ADVANCED LEVEL PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY WORKSHOP 4-6 November 2011 in Johannesburg for those from around the country who are already active and who have experienced the introductory workshop. The six themes of the programme will be explored more deeply for personal growth and as a TRAINING THE TRAINERS WEEKEND.
INTRODUCTION TO PARISH FAMILY MINISTRY workshop 10-12 February 2012 in Johannesburg.
Contact us for more info and see www.marfam.org.za/blog for resources, liturgical sheets, blessings and activities.
COUNSELLING TRAINING is offered from time to time through Life Line and FAMSA offices in various centres. Also enquire from the Department of Social Development about specific programmes.
SACBC DIRECTORY FAMILY LIFE INFORMATION. A full family contact list can be found on www.marfam.org.za/blog. and will be updated on www.sacbc.org.za as well,
Through contact at workshops and presentations our email list continues to grow slowly but surely. We’re still attempting to build a presence on facebook too.
BITS AND BYTES
FAREWELL FR RUSSELL CAMPBELL. As mentioned above Fr Russell was passionate about prison ministry. We don’t always think about this broader terms. It involves care for prisoners and their families as well as victims and their families. There are elements of punishment as well as rehabilitation and of course crime prevention too. An article Fr Russell wrote for Marriage and Family Living on the topic of acceptance back into society of offenders, “A duck is somebody’s mother” reminds me of his rather quirky sense of humour. Rest in Peace good friend.
FAMILIES AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION
Life&Love@schools conferences held during September were powerful opportunities for empowerment in this area of sexuality. Youth sessions were very well attended and Jason Evert was certainly a hit with them. Theology of the Body and Natural Family Planning are important areas too for adults, parents, couples and those who provide education and formation. I found attendance at these sessions quite disappointing. Information on these topics is built into some programmes such as marriage preparation and enrichment but in the sex-saturated society in which we live where our youth and young children are exposed to anything at all on their celphones and computers parents undoubtedly have their hands full and frequently don’t know where to turn.
LOVE MATTERS, Just-1-teenager, the FOUNDATION FOR THE PERSON AND THE FAMILY and LIFETALK are resources addressed to youth and some to their parents from within the Catholic network while there are many other programmes e.g. HEARTLINES available some from a Christian base and others can be tapped into and used but with discretion because of a different value base. The FL Desk is also engaged with others in parenting programmes.
CULTURE OF LIFE TRAINING – Johannesburg Cathedral. Training for presenting anti-abortion talks. 1st October, contact Michelle 082 609 6919.
YOUTH MINISTRY IN THE DIGITAL ERA. WORKSHOP BY SR ROSE PACATTE. CONTACT Paulines 011 622 5189 9th October 2011. Sr Rose will also give a public lecture at St Augustine College.
October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. “1 in 29 women in South Africa will be diagnosed with breast cancer; the good news is that if it’s detected early, there is an excellent chance of recovery. That is why every woman needs to examine her breasts and underarms regularly every month, to check for any changes.”
Cansa South Africa www.cansa.org.za has a wealth of information, many leaflets about breast examination, symptoms and treatment. Have a cuppa for cansa is also a wonderful campaign to raise funds and create awareness.
This is something that should be discussed in families too, rather than keep this kind of information too hidden. If our children are as sexually aware as we know they are they need to be exposed to a much bigger picture around areas of sexual health too.
“FAITH IN AN AGE OF SECULARISM” An enlightening theological conference was held at St Augustine College in Johannesburg. Papers presented examined the meaning of secular, secularism and secularization and explored these concepts from many, mainly African perspectives. Meeting African theologians was of importance to me because of the need for relevant inculturation in family ministry. My paper on the distinction between sacred and secular in a family context in Southern Africa asked “Are Family Moments truly Faith Moments, and are Faith Moments truly Family Moments?” It will be published on www.marfam.org.za/blog/tonitalks
Find out more about St Augustine College, South Africa’s only Catholic university and courses offered. www.staugustine.ac.za/
HOPE AND JOY, is the SA initiative to build a network of Catholics while also preparing for the 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II in 2012 by re-presenting some of the relevant teachings of Vatican II. www.hopeandjoy.org.za or contact
The HOPE AND JOY CONFERENCE on 8th October in Johannesburg will present topics from Vatican II. Find out more at www.hopeandjoy.org.za or contact email@example.com
OCTOBER – Instruments of Peace.
PARISH AND FAMILY HOUR AT HOME SUGGESTIONS.
Becoming instruments of peace at home and in society can take very many different forms.
The Prayer of St Francis is well known and well-loved too and families are invited to pray it every day at home, for their own needs, for their country and the world. Parishes could make copies and pray it for peace at home too. Study the story of St Francis, the many branches of Franciscans, priests, brothers, sisters and laity too as Secular Franciscans. Many confirmation candidates choose him as a patron but there is a lot more to him than love of animals and nature that could and should be explored more.
The Prayer for Southern Africa which was widely used some years ago is based on the Prayer of St Francis with some slight variations. Look it up on the internet, compare and share.
The article on the Damietta Peace Initiative could be read and discussed. Would anyone be interested in finding out more. Visit……
Visit local Justice and Peace offices and enquire about their projects regarding Land, Economic Justice, Gender Equity and many more. Find out about the Climate Change conference to be held in Durban soon.
A Simple Family Hour Format:
Input or material on a relevant topic or from daily life or the news.
Reflection, sharing and discussion in a respectful, responsive way. This is the key to building family communication.
Is action required? End with shared prayer, a meal or a snack.
The process can of course be used for problem solving in families but it is also very important to build family communication skills, for the times when problems do arise. Professionals using the technique would call it Family Conferencing.
October is Jacaranda month. It is said that if you haven’t started studying for year end exams you are too late.
Saints of the month, St Therese, Guardian Angels, St Francis, see www.catholiconline.org for more.
The NGO Sonke Gender Justice Network addresses gender but this group also has a particular interest in men, as fathers too. The MenCare campaign is one initiative to encourage fathers to be present to their children. www.men-care.org/node/20
FINALLY ON A LIGHTER NOTE:
Planning for peace tips for families
A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment. Then a new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys, full of youthful, after-school enthusiasm, came down his street, beating merrily on every trash can they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.
The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. In fact, I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.” The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trash cans.
After a few days, the old-timer greeted the kids again, but this time he had a sad smile on his face. “This recession’s really putting a big dent in my income,” he told them. “From now on, I’ll only be able to pay you 50 cents to beat on the cans.”
The noisemakers were obviously displeased, but they did accept his offer and continued their afternoon ruckus. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street.
“Look,” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?”
“A lousy quarter?” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time, beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts! No way, mister. We quit!” And the old man enjoyed peace.
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