DAILY THOUGHTS JUNE: CHILDREN AND YOUTH BELONG IN FAMILIES
Abbreviations: Pope Francis: LS = Laudato Si. AL = Amoris Laetitia. EG = Evangelii Gaudium, CV = Christus Vivit .
OVERVIEW. Birth, childhood and growth through adolescence are the most vibrant stages of life in all areas of creation, human, animal and plant. We understand that family relationships do exist too in the animal kingdom. Vigorous growth and regrowth happen in phases that can often be stressful and conflict-filled. However, ideally in a family, the young receive the conscious protection, care and support they need to monitor and direct their youthful energy towards full and responsible maturity.
Pope Francis tells youth in his letter Christus Vivit, to young people and to the entire people of God: sheer vitality and strength of personality combine in the hearts of young people to make them constantly aim higher. This exuberance will be tempered by time and painful experiences but it is important for this youthful and still untested yearning for the infinite to encounter unconditional friendship that Jesus offers. CV190
It is true that the difficulties they experience in their own family can lead the young to ask whether it is worthwhile to start a new family, to be faithful, to be generous. However, it is worth your every effort, dear young people, to invest in the family, there you will find the best incentives to mature and the greatest joys to experience and share. Don’t let yourselves be led astray by those who propose a life of rampant individualism that in the end leads to isolation and the worst sort of loneliness. CV263.
Pope Benedict observed that the world cannot be analysed by isolating only one of its aspects. The book of nature is one and indivisible and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family and social relations. LS6
Setting the scene: At the time of writing, mid-May, our country is still partially on lock-down with pre-schools, schools and tertiary institutions still closed and many workers not yet back. It has been a very hard time for children, their parents and other carers too. Some families have become closer, others have struggled and may have resorted to violence especially against women and children. Children were stuck at home with family, no school, no friends allowed but with constant digital contact, even e-learning for some. Lessons have been learned about life as it was, is and as it could be. The whole world is changing. Will our values change? Almost everyone will be poorer. How will we address the extremes of greed and poverty, inequality and the need to keep a cleaner environment in the forefront of our planning and actions. Much of this is to be imparted in their families to the younger generations. The context for these reflections is a focus on children, youth and families with Laudato Si’, the letter from Pope Francis, in mind. They can be used by the young and older people too as they try to understand the youth in our church and society.
The focus of the world of creation as a family of families can also serve the vision for the future. With churches closed it has been more difficult to practise our religion as we were used to. At this time is God’s presence recognised, and is Jesus welcomed in our little churches of the home. Moments of prayer and reflection and a time to share thoughts and feelings, fears and hopes for the future require solidarity with everyone? Is our solidarity lived out in caring for one another and the environment? How many young people are working alongside the St Vincent de Paul Society or other Catholic NGOs during this time? All that might be the new normal for Confirmation and faith development leading to an eventual Sacrament of Marriage as still a basis for family life that we dare not neglect.
For resources for family faith development, the 2020 FAMILY YEAR PLANNER, family prayer and sharing or to register for a daily email visit www.marfam.org.za. And MARFAM’s new shop www.marfam.org.za/shop Call Toni 0825521275 for information. ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
June 3. Ugandan Martyrs. St Charles Lwanga, St Kizito and others. The Ugandan youth at St Kizito’s parish had invited all their fellow Ugandan youth to pay special honour to the 22 young boy martyrs, some Catholic and some Anglican, as true witnesses of the Christian faith. Charles Lwanga was a catechist and leader but Kizito at age 14 was the youngest in the group. In 1886 King Mwanga, who despised Christianity gave orders for the pages in his service to do what for them were sinful homosexual acts. As a punishment for their refusal to obey him they were condemned to death, tied up in a grass mat, put on a pyre and burnt to death. The story is told that Kizito, who was baptised just before his death, was dancing and singing for joy to be allowed to die for Jesus. Obed asked the others in the group, “is it not like the story of the 7 brothers and their mother in the Old Testament book of Maccabees. Do you think we would be prepared to die for our beliefs?”
When the young man had been tortured and was near death he said, ”You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the Universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life because we have died for his laws.” 2 Maccabees 7:9-14. Pope Francis: The heart of the Church is full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them dying a martyr’s death. Their radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy. Their example shows what young people are capable of, when you open yourselves up to encounter Christ”. They showed us that there is another way to spend our youth. CV49
June 5. World Environment Day. Tony’s dad had been an environmental activist for a long time and this commitment had rubbed off on to the teenagers who were keen scouts. However, all together the family decided to take up the challenge of global warming and so they worked on their carbon footprints. How much carbon were they each emitting into the atmosphere by electricity being wasted, leaving lights and electronic equipment on, unnecessary driving by car instead of walking to the shop or riding a bike? What could they save and so give back?
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:10-17. Pope Francis: Nature holds a special attraction for many adolescents and young people who recognize our need to care for the environment. Such is the case with the scouting movement and other groups that encourage closeness to nature, camping trips, hiking, expeditions and campaigns to improve the environment. In the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, such experiences can be a real initiation into the school of universal fraternity and contemplative prayer. CV 228.
June 7. Trinity Sunday A. Fr Sylvester looked around the church and felt joyful as it was only very recently that services were again allowed after the months of lock-down. He noted how the congregation were seated again as before. Men at the back, women in their sodality uniforms, children in the front, youth in a group near the exit. He spoke to them, “Today is Trinity Sunday and we learn something special about God. God is a family, a community of love, of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Every human family is called to be a community of love too. As a sign of this unity I would like to invite you, when we exchange the sign of peace, to go and greet your family members. Give one another a sign of love and reconciliation, a hug or a kiss, just like Paul told us in the 2nd reading. And maybe once a month at least you could come to church as families and sit together. “Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Pope Francis: With a gaze of faith and love, grace and fidelity, we have contemplated the relationship between human families and the divine Trinity. The word of God tells us that the family is entrusted to a man, a woman and their children, so that they may become a communion of persons in the image of the union of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Begetting and raising children mirrors God’s creative work. AL 29