FEBRUARY CALENDAR OVERVIEW: God, the creator, is a lover and it is God’s love that is life-giving, creating life continually, sustaining and renewing what has been created. Our task and gift as human beings and life-givers is co-creation with God in the conception, bearing and nurturing of children and in maintaining loving relationships. God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan. (cf Mt 13:3) AL62.
Our life-giving task is to nurture life in all its stages from conception until natural death. However, we know from experience how vulnerable life and love can be. Dare we say that, if there is no true love expressed as a deep concern for others in our families and for the common good, life does continue, but not as Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10. Loving human relationships of commitment and care are mirrored and carried forward in care for creation. Caring for rhinos and yet rejecting unborn human life and the needs of the destitute and poor is not fully lifegiving.
Reflecting on St Francis Pope Francis wrote in 2015 “Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.”
Setting the Scene: February is seen as the month of love and so the (imaginary) parish family team will be the main coordinating team for the month, leading the reflections with others of the PPC and the parish priest. The Daily Thoughts and suggestions for action will include families as well as creation and nature. A list of general “Greening our Family, Church and Society” suggestions and activities is being published and can be built into Lent too which starts late in the month.
February 1. Blessed Benedict Daswa was a respected school principal and married man. He was the father of eight children and his mother was also part of the family. Benedict was stoned and then killed by fellow-villagers in Venda on 2 February 1990. They were jealous of his success and resented his opposition to witchcraft which was still practised in the area. One of his friends, also a principal, spoke about Benedict’s attitude toward family life, “When men were at a District meeting, Benedict said, ‘Men should help their wives, for example, if there is a baby at home and the Mother is busy, the Father should take care of the baby. The time has come for men to realise that we can do women’s work.’ Some men used to laugh at him, saying that he was overpowered by his wife.” He was beatified as South Africa’s 1st martyr in September 2015. The Pearl Jubilee of his death is being celebrated on 1 February 2020. His life and his death are ideal examples of life-giving love.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. John 12:24-26. Pope Francis: In difficult moments of history how often do we hear, ‘Today our country needs heroes.’ We ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death. Martyrs are the lifeblood of the Church.” April 2017.
February 2. Sunday 4A. Candlemas/Presentation of the Lord. The parish liturgy and family teams were organizing the candlelight procession and had invited families to participate in this together. Mapitso explained that this feast finally ends the 40 days of the Christmas season. The name Candlemas reminds us again that Jesus is the Light of the World for everyone. A procession of light can also remind us of God’s creation when he separated light and darkness. The feast commemorates the Jewish tradition of ritual purification after childbirth. As in African cultures there was a great reverence for blood as a seat of life in Jewish culture.
When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. From Luke 2:22-40. Pope Francis. The concept of culture is valuable for grasping the various expressions of the Christian life in God’s people. It has to do with the lifestyle of a given society, the specific way in which its members relate to one another, to other creatures and to God. EG1152
February 9. Sunday 5A. WORLD MARRIAGE DAY. Mark and Joan shared, “One of the best things for us about our Marriage Ministry is the relationships we have developed with our fellow couples and the priests we have worked with very closely supporting one another. Marriage is our sacrament, but the priests are our partners, co-ministers, called to serve us, the people of God in a special way. We laughed when we were sharing our stories in a group. “Which of us is the salt, and which the light and in what way are we being this” Today is World Marriage Day. The theme for the day used every year is, “Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15.2. it is a commandment and speaks to us in a simple but challenging way of how God, Our Father sees us and wants us to live:
Our Father’s Call to a Couple. “Your being in love is my way to attract you to love. I say to you, you are wonderful, you are good. I want you to enjoy together the fullness of life, for which I sent My Son. Your closeness, your oneness, is the human experience nearest to how I live and love. Wherever you are, whatever you do in loving union brings Jesus in His Body, the Church, alive to all whom you touch. I call you to love each other in His name.” (extracts from “Our Father’s Call to a Couple” written by Fr Chuck Gallagher for couples preparing for marriage. Google for the complete prayer.).
Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good. You are the light of the world, A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16