REFLECTIONS: introduction and extracts from September theme “Our World of Families.”

Sep 1, 2020

SEPTEMBER OVERVIEW: Many new insights have been incorporated into our way of thinking in recent years.  Certainly the concept Pope Francis presented, THE WORLD OUR COMMON HOME, is a beautiful image and necessary insight into understanding not only the wonder of the whole human family but also other family forms found in nature. 

We, the human family, in its various forms, with different religions, political ideologies and experiences of wealth and poverty are the greatest threat to our world’s security and stability today.  Every other family in creation will suffer because of the way we have treated this common home. Is our heritage and culture doomed to be a negative influence or how can it be redeemed?  

A fragile world entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power. LS 78.   Culture is more than what we have inherited from the past; it is also, a living dynamic and participatory present reality, which cannot be excluded as we rethink the relationship between human beings and the environment.  LS143

SETTING THE SCENE.  We, in the southern hemisphere are fortunate that it is in springtime that we are invited by Pope Francis to focus on the world, our common home, and the importance of caring for creation. We can easily also include our heritage and cultural background in a celebration of life.  Who would have thought that Covid-19 would still be with us after nearly ¾ of a year worldwide, and at least 6 months for South Africa.  A partial lock-down still means no religious gatherings of more than 50 people, while virtual meetings, conferences and webinars are now common-place.   However do these involve family members or mainly individuals? It is as necessary as before to build communication in families on a practical, social and also spiritual level. These reflections can ideally be used for sharing and discussion even if they begin on a small group facebook page. The SEE-JUDGE-ACT approach is used and Pope Francis quotations for this month are mainly taken from Laudato Si’ or Amoris Laetitia.

The Season of Creation is an ecumenical initiative started in 1989 by various Christian groups. In 2015 Pope Francis brought the Catholic Church on board. The Season begins on 1 September – see below, and ends on October 4th, the feast of St Francis. The suggested 2020 theme is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”

The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” LS 217.

‘A Christian prayer for union with creation’ was published in Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato Si. It is here divided up over a week so that we can focus on each sentence more closely.

PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION during September the month for Heritage and “Our World of Families.”  

  1. Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. Praise be to you!
  2. Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made. You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, You became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes. Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory. Praise be to you!
  3. Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. Praise be to you!
  4. Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you. Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
  5. God of love, show us our place in this world as the channels of your love for all creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.  Praise be to you!
  6. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.  Praise be to you!
  7. The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom Of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen.

September 5. St Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” These words of Mother Teresa describe her calling and her mission in life. She lived this mission first as a Loreto sister but from 1948 until her death in 1997 she became a real mother of the poor in Calcutta. She, and the sisters of her congregation, Sisters of Charity, care especially for the poorest of the poor, for lepers, the homeless and they support the right to life of the unborn in many countries across the world.  Their mission, on fire with love from Jesus remains “burning with one desire:  “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.” They call on us too, “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.”A famous saying of hers, “If you want peace in the world, go home and love your family.”  There are many books and stories that families can read and share how she made her life SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD.

“O God, who called blessed Teresa, virgin to respond to the love of your Son thirsting on the cross with outstanding charity to the poorest of the poor, grant us, we beseech you, by her intercession,to minister to Christ in his suffering brothers.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Prayer from the Mass for St Teresa.

Prayer for the Care of Creation. 5. God of love, show us our place in this world as the channels of your love for all creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. 

September 6th.   Sunday 23A.   Fr Joseph posted his homily. “There are two thoughts that struck me when I was reflecting on the gospel for today. One is obviously about forgiveness and I can see it almost as in a business matter where you have to go to arbitration to resolve your differences.  That is serious stuff and I know that happens in families too. The other thought that struck me is that Jesus says that if your brother doesn’t listen to you or to the Church you should treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.  That strikes me as quite judgmental, racist even but that was clearly a normal thing in his day.   I believe we have come a long way since then when it comes to discrimination and even hate speech.  If Jesus was alive and here with us now what would he have to say about #Blacklivesmatter or would he say #Everylifematters?”   If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.   If he refuses to listen even to the Church let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matt18:15-20. 

Pope Francis:  Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.  LS 202. Pope Francis: Prayer for the Care of Creation. 6.   Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. 

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