February 21. Jocelyn asked, “ Isn’t sometimes doing good a question of faith while in other cases good, altruistic behavior could be a personality trait or even genetic? I was reading some stuff for an assignment on altruism and was fascinated that research into animal altruistic behavior showed that some insects in a group would choose not to breed in order to support another member of the family. Is that good work or an inbuilt survival mechanism, or the possibility of getting something in return? How would that apply to us humans, e.g. we’re always asking our kids to share?“
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food and one of you says, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2: 14-24. Pope Francis: Adoption is a very generous way to become parents. Those who accept the challenge of adoption and accepting someone unconditionally and gratuitously become channels of God’s love. For he says, “Even if your mother forgets you, I will not forget you. (Is 49.15) AL 179
February 22. Peter opened the discussion. “Only recently has there been legislation about hate speech. Surely speaking ill of someone has been done for ever and, I think, it is even included in the Ten Commandments.” Anne, the oldest member in the group helped out, “According to the Catechism sins against the 8th commandment include calumny and detraction. What does that mean? It is to do with the reputation of others. Calumny is telling untruths about people while detraction is disclosing information that is true about someone’s faults and failings but harms their reputation.” “Could that be about someone being gay or HIV positive?” Julia wanted to know, “but not quite like gossip is it?”
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature and set on fire by hell. Every kind of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature can be tamed, but no human being can tame the tongue, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:1-10. Pope Francis: In the family we receive an integral education which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. We learn to ask, without demanding, to say, “thank you,” to control our aggressivity and greed and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings. LS 212.
February 24. Christo shared with the group, ”In today’s technological age we may think everything can be explained from a material perspective, but there are definite spiritual things happening that cannot be explained. I know of a family where a young boy was clearly the victim of a kind of spiritual oppression. It caused great distress to the whole family as they went through a process of dealing with it.
They brought the boy to Jesus and when the spirit saw him immediately it convulsed the boy and he fell on the ground and milled about, foaming at the mouth. The father said, “If you can do anything have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said, “all things are possible to him who believes.“ The disciples asked “why could we not cast it out?” Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:14-29. Pope Francis: We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable. The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. “Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Gaudete et Exultate 161
February 25. Joan had been a catechist for many years. She believed and stressed that parents should ideally be dealing with sexuality education of their children in a natural way from very young as they are growing up. “With the help of nature too, especially pets giving birth and caring for their babies we can find a very helpful way to talk to children about reproduction in a holistic way,” she said. On quite a different note, this day known traditionally as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday is also celebrated as Carnival, that has become a very hedonistic, pleasure-seeking time.
Jesus said, “If anyone one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them and taking him in his arms he said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:30-37. Pope Francis: The Second Vatican council spoke of the need for a positive and prudent sex education to be imparted to children and adolescents with due weight being given to the advances in the psychological, pedagogical and didactic sciences. We may ask ourselves if our educational institutions have taken up this challenge. It is not easy to approach the issue in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished. It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love and for mutual self-giving. AL 280