February 18. Jack, the catechist, continued his sharing about Lent.  “When I read how Moses speaks about life and death I woke up to the drought that exists in parts of the country from time to time.  Animals and vegetation die for lack of water and human beings suffer too. We pray to God for rain but also have to accept responsibility for how our actions have contributed to global warming resulting in drought. 

Moses spoke to the people, “See I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments then you shall live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you in the land. Deut 30:15-20. 

OUR WORLD – A FAMILY OF FAMILIES. St Francis recognized all creatures as family and called them Brother, Sister and Mother Earth. For us, as families, our home and those who live with us, are our first experience of “the world.” As we grow the vista opens up to include more people and more places.  Relatives, neighbours, friends and enemies, special people like teachers, health workers and strangers all play a role in our lives. Places beyond our house, our street, town, country, the wider world and even the whole universe are our extended world. These are all made up of families of various kinds. Living creatures, plants, animals and human beings have the ability to continue to reproduce, grow, mature and die, leaving the next generation to continue the species. Non-living elements of creation, sun, moon and stars as well as water, air, soil too are also members of the family of creation. Pope Francis: Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.   Each is willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness.  Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things. LS69. Reflect, share, act, pray.  How can we repent of our choices of evil instead of good?  What does Moses in speaking of life and death tell us about being life-giving and preserving creation? 

February 20.  The Franciscan way. Everyone in the family groups agreed that thinking more about the theme for the month, “Love gives families life” would contribute to it being a very meaningful Lenten journey. “We’ve certainly had some new insights to take to families at home particularly about St Francis, his way and his teachings. Thanks to you, one and all and Thanks and Praise be to God!”   

“Francis began his pilgrim journey of conversion alone. He was no longer interested in his friends, wealth and a good life. He chose to be detached from any possessions and live as a beggar for some time while physically rebuilding the abandoned church at San Damiano. As his conversion experience deepened Francis became used to praise God the Artist in every one of God’s works. Whatever joy he found he referred to their maker. Everything cried out to him, “He who made us is infinitely good!’ He called animals “brother” or “sister,” and he exhorted them to praise God. He would go through the streets, inviting everyone to sing with him. And one time when he came upon an almond tree, he said, ‘Brother Almond, speak to me of God.” And the almond tree blossomed. He rejoiced in every form of new life. Saint Francis can do this for us once we are caught up in his life and teachings. He makes us blossom, wherever and whoever we are, because we see, in Francis, what could happen to us if we embrace the overflowing goodness of God revealed in everything that exists and so experience God’s joy.

Here are the eight teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.”  From Franciscan Media. (Google for more details of the teachings and read the explanations)  

  1. The Wonder of the Incarnation                                 
  2. Evangelical Poverty
  3. Live the Gospel 
  4. Go and Repair God’s House
  5. Peace.
  6. God’s House Is All of Creation.
  7. The Joy of Humble Praise and Service of God
  8. The Teaching of Teachings: Love.

The highest of all loves is the total love of God leading to true love of neighbor and the true love of neighbor leading to the love of God.  “Let us love the Lord God with all our heart and all our soul, with all our mind and all our strength and with fortitude and with total understanding, with all of our power, with every effort, every affection, every emotion, every desire, and every wish.” — From the Rule of St Francis 1221, Chapter XXIII        
Scripture: If you take away the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire with good things, make your bones strong and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Is 58: 9-14. Pope Francis. God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way.  In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much is always present.  He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.  Praise be to him!  LS 245   Reflect, share, act, pray. Explore which of the teachings appeals to you.

February 21. Sunday Lent 1B. This week we begin to explore the concepts of care for family and creation, (God’s House). Esther and her brother Frank started thinking up a modern day Noah story. “God looked down at the earth and frowned at the layers of filthy cloud that blocked the view. ‘I wonder how my creatures can breathe this polluted air and I know what it is doing to their lungs.  I created them with carefully balanced bodily functions, and the same goes for the other systems, animals and even plants are dying as the whole system has gone out of balance.  Let’s send them a warning that things are not right?  If they don’t listen stronger measure will be needed, because it isn’t just for the sake of human beings but for the whole creation system where everything is interdependent.’  So month after month hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons produced floods and landslides around the world. ‘But let them take note of the rainbow and remember it is a sign of my hope and love.’ God said.”  

Scripture: The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man and it grieved him to his heart.  So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air for I am sorry that I have made them.“ But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. And he said to Noah, “Go into the ark you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals and a pair of the animals that are not clean. Gen 6:5 -8, 7:1-5.  Pope Francis: Through Noah God decided to open a path to salvation and gave humanity the chance of a new beginning.  All it takes is one good person to restore hope!  The renewal entails recovering and respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator. LS 71.    The ancient (Genesis) stories full of symbolism bear witness to a conviction which we today share that everything is interconnected and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.  LS 70.  Reflect, share, act, pray.  On one level lobby for climate justice, while at another level, consider what help can be offered to victims of disasters.