FAMILY YEAR PLANNER
Theme: The Year of Mercy and the Family, Building Homes of Merciful Love.
Download explanation and overview of the themes for the year. The programme is based around Pope Francis’s theme of MERCY and the EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY with extracts from Misericordiae Vultus (THE FACE OF MERCY). Daily reflections using life situations, scripture, liturgical readings, national and traditional celebrations are posted on the website, emails and contained in the quarterly booklets MERCY MINUTES. MARFAM’s Family Matters magazines for 2016 will develop the themes more deeply.
OVERVIEW and INTRODUCTION to the Year Planner with monthly focus themes. Pope Francis, a highly respected figure in the Church and the world today, with his passion and caring approach to social needs including the family, has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy from 8th December 2015 to 20th November, the feast of Christ the King 2016. For the Catholic Church in South Africa it is a way to continue the 3 year focus on family life. For everyone it is also a valuable way of considering many of the social ills that challenge us all. He writes,” “I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!. May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst! From the booklet THE FACE OF MERCY (Misericordiae Vultus, or MV) MV 5.
JANUARY. MERCIFUL LOVE, A NEW VISION. The Year of Mercy began on 8th December but a new year calls for reinforcing a new way of seeing, being and acting. Pope Francis’ THE FACE OF MERCY (MV) begins “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy, by his words, actions and his entire person.” What images of Jesus do you have in your home, a crucifix with a suffering Christ, the Risen Lord, a laughing Jesus, Divine Mercy image, Jesus and the children or women, teaching his disciples, eating with people? Pope Francis’ crucifix uses the figure of the Good Shepherd. All these are ways to show the Father’s mercy and care that we are asked to imitate. We also have our own personal image of how we see and relate to Jesus. Let each family member choose a favourite image and resolve to pray a simple family prayer together regularly. This is adapted from MARFAM’s A FAMILY PRAYER BOOK.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity.
Your mercy shows us how to love, to be true family.
We’re sorry for the things we’ve done to cause another pain. Make us willing to forgive and so be whole again. Bless our family today, keep us in your care, old and young and sick and healthy, those no longer there.
Help us care for others too, Jesus showed the way.
May every home be home for God, now and every day.
FEBRUARY. LOVE IS AT THE HEART OF MERCY. In this month for romantic love we also consider the merciful side of love. Even the most perfect rose has thorns and loving relationships experience hurt and the need to heal and be healed. Wounds can be inflicted by ourselves or others through selfishness and lack of kindness and tenderness. As Lent begins, in this season of prayer, fasting and works of charity, we intensify our actions and reflections on Scripture as Pope Francis asks. The famous passage from St Paul, 1 Corinthians 13 that concludes “the greatest of these is love” helps us in our reflection and our merciful responses.
We are also told “do not hide yourself from your own flesh.” Is 58:7. How merciful can our love and care for others, especially marriage partners be? Do we see Jesus in them? Blessed Benedict Daswa, a South African martyr, married man and father showed this through his life of caring for others too. We remember him on 1st February.
MARCH. MERCY IS JUSTICE TEMPERED WITH LOVE. Lent, Holy Week, Easter; neatly packaged, they show us the whole mystery of God’s merciful love to contemplate and imitate through conversion from a lack of love and mercy towards true justice. Pope Francis sees justice and mercy as two dimensions of a single reality reaching its highest level in the fullness of love. He invites especially “those whose behaviour distances them from the grace of God.”MV19. He notes criminal behaviour, corruption at any level from home, school, workplaces and everywhere as sins of injustice, “what we have done and what we have failed to do.” But he writes, “Even when confronted with evil deeds it is the time to listen lovingly.” MV19. Use this time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A simple reconciliation and family prayer meal can heal and commemorate the Eucharist at home and prepare for the joy of experiencing the Risen Lord. “This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched. MV19
APRIL. GOD’S MERCY is DIVINE MERCY. “Mercy and faithfulness have met, justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.” Psalm 85. Sr Faustina experienced Jesus as a fount of mercy. this led to the popular Divine Mercy devotion. The year’s theme “Be merciful like the Father” asks us to reflect on God’s divine mercy and imitate him. How do we experience God’s divine mercy on a human level and share it within families? Do we pray and play, walk and talk, eat and meet, fight and forgive? How from there on do we reach out to others?
MAY. MERCIFUL PARENTING and FAMILY CARE. Parenting is a unique relationship, a pilgrim journey from birth to death. It is being like God who from the beginning of history still continues to deal with children who can be wayward, disobedient and disrespectful at times, and at others loving, caring and obedient. Pope Francis reminds us that the Lord says, “do not judge and do not condemn.” That means accept the good in the child, forgive and give generously and freely. “Does a mother forget her baby, or a woman the child within her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will not forget you,” says the Lord. Whoever plays a parenting role in a family can practise and teach the Spiritual Works of Mercy. It is part of our parental obligation.
Admonish the sinner. Instruct the ignorant.
Counsel the doubtful., Comfort the sorrowful.
Bear wrongs patiently Forgive injuries
Pray for the living and the dead.
JUNE. YOUTH FOR MERCY. It is normal and natural for youth to want, to need, to expect to be provided and cared for. It is their right to ask and the duty of families to provide and educate their young while also teaching responsibility. Youth is a stage of life, for life, a stage of joy and enthusiasm, but also of loneliness, rejection as well as aggression and bullying. It is a time of formation for mercy as they learn the deep meaning of the special theme for World Youth Day, one of the eight Beatitudes:. “Blessed are the Merciful, they shall obtain Mercy.”
JULY. GRANDPARENTS, WITNESSES OF MERCY. God’s mercy
continues through all phases of life. The elderly and grandparents, in particular, from their many experiences of marriage and family life, of love and loss, of pain and joy in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health become expert witnesses to God’s mercy. At this stage they may have time for deeper contemplation. Are they recognised and valued as witnesses even though they still experience a need for mercy from God and their loved ones? “The Church is called above all to be a credible witness to mercy, professing it and living it as the core of the revelation of Jesus Christ.” MV25
AUGUST. MEN AND WOMEN OF MERCY. Women and children are often seen as the fragile and marginalised ones, but a family focus embraces everyone, men and women. All are encouraged to grow in understanding and to nurture this deepest human relationship of love which mirrors the Trinity as a community of love. Mercy honours the powers of sexuality and sexual love and expects justice too through recognising equal rights and responsibilities.
SEPTEMBER. THE WORLD, OUR HOME OF MERCY. If the world is truly our home and our heritage as Pope Francis eloquently shares in LAUDATO SI, how are we blessing it with family love, accepting all mankind and all of creation as God’s wider family? “Ecological education happens in a variety of settings, at school, in families, the media and catechesis. I stress the great importance of the family where we first learn to love and respect life, we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the ecosystem and care for all creatures. We learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you”, to control our aggressiveness and greed and ask forgiveness.” From Pope Francis L S 213
OCTOBER. THE MISSION OF MERCY TO EVERYONE. Pope Francis writes, “How many are the wounds borne by those who have no voice. Their cry is muffled and drowned out by the indifference of the rich! Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters. May we reach out to them and support them to feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship and our fraternity. Mercy makes us as brothers and sisters to one another and members of the human family, believers and non-believers alike, in particular to those who are suffering, refugees, migrants, the poor and the homeless.” MV15,23. We pray with Mary in the month of the Rosary and families can reach out through the Corporal Works of Mercy.
Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty.
Clothe the naked. Shelter the homeless.
Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned.
Bury the dead.
NOVEMBER. MERCY LEADS FROM SUFFERING TO CELEBRATION. November is traditionally a time to commemorate those who have died but at the same time we remember with mercy those left behind and all others experiencing loss and loneliness in different ways. As the Jubilee Year of Mercy ends we can ask “ Did we feel God opening his heart and sharing his love with us, as individuals, children, parents, couples, families of all kinds? Did we witness to others and experience the joy of seeing the face of Jesus reflected everywhere?
DECEMBER. BUILDING THE NEW WORLD OF JUSTICE AND MERCIFUL LOVE. The song, “There’s a new world somewhere they call the promised land, and I’ll be there some day if you will hold my hand” highlights the joyful message to carry forward into a new season, a celebration with Mary, the ever loving and merciful mother and the Holy Family. Together we prepare for and contemplate the birth of the helpless baby, God’s revelation and sign of love and mercy. This year and in future may we remember that JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!
The Church is called above all to be a credible witness to mercy, professing it and living it. From the heart of the Trinity, from the depths of the mystery of God the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people approach it. MV25.