Introduction. Lent begins on 2 March and continues until Holy Week and Easter from 10-17 April. Part 1 is included here and Part 2 of Lent will be included in April DAILY THOUGHTS. There are also other lists of suggestions.
- MARFAM LENTEN FAMILY CALENDAR with 60+ suggestions for ACTS OF LOVE AND SACRIFICE to choose daily or as appropriate to do individually or together towards becoming an eco-friendly family. They are relevant in the many different contexts of families. A separate sheet to download and print from www.marfam.org.za/lent.
- LENTEN PRACTICES FOR THE HOME:
Study and Read: subscribe to eco-friendly newsletters on-line. Select topics of interest to study further on climate, biodiversity and living a simpler lifestyle. Read up on biomimicry. Read up on water saving, electricity saving, carbon footprints, healthy diets. Watch TV series and programmes on climate action and protection of creation around the world. Read up St Francis life and way of life and study Pope Francis writings especially Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti as well as suggestions for the Amoris Laetitia Family Year.
Do: Do a family project on becoming eco-friendly: pray privately and together, do faith sharing ideally together. Hold a Family Reconciliation service and if possible Confession. Have a Family Prayer Meal. Pray STATIONS OF THE CROSS for Families from MARFAM in various languages. Check your family carbon footprint and make adjustments to reduce it. Save energy and water, grow herbs, vegetables, trees, eat more healthily – less meat, more vegetables. Support conservation projects for wild life, birds, bees, insects. Lobby about chosen issues – plastic pollution, environmental clean-up. Donate unused items to charity. Knit, sew, make items to donate to charity. Family fast days (Friday fast) to save money and donate to feeding projects. Exercise to keep fit.
Save money: Cut down on alcohol, smoking, fizzy drinks, junk food, bottled water, car use. Think twice before you spend, do clothes-swop rather than buy, buy in bulk and share. Have a meatless day. Donate money saved to Bishops’ Lenten Appeal. ,
Waste reduction: Recycle. Avoid single use plastics, styrofoam, avoid wasting food, compost food wastage.
Energy Saving: Do energy use check, switch off unnecessary and unused lights, TV and plugs. Use solar power, solar lights and rechargeable batteries. Cut time on TV, computer and cellphone to save energy and data.
Water saving: Use “grey” water from bath, shower and washing for toilets and garden. Don’t run taps when not needed. Collect rain water, use drip irrigation in garden or veggie patch.
Recycle: Join in recycling projects, plastic, paper, glass, make ecobricks out of plastic 2l bottles stuffed with plastic.
General: clean up environment, plant trees, support ecological campaigns in church, school and society. Make time for relationships and relaxation by cutting time on-line or cellphone.
Care for others: Befriend, share, give to poor and beggars, give away unused items, show care for sick and lonely
More Resources used in these DAILY THOUGHTS for promoting family spirituality during Lent: Catholic Church CHARTER OF FAMILY RIGHTS. SA Government BILL OF RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE YOUTH OF SA. www.gov.za/about-government/government-programmes/bill-responsibilities. MORAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT https://static.pmg.org.za/150324MRM_Charter_of_Positive_Values.pdf
MARCH overview. Family Rights and Responsibilities; a Lenten focus. The right to life should be paramount and in some form it is enshrined in most national Constitutions, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Church’s Charter of Family Rights. All human life, as individuals, but also as family units, is precious from the first moment of existence until natural death. Rights extend to safety and protection from harm.
Concern for animal and plant life has become a growing concern and “extinction means forever” is a true consequence of lack of care and commitment. A culture of life approach should not only focus on the perspective of justice, but also of love and positive relationships. All of creation is interrelated. We can speak of the “butterfly effect.” “When a butterfly flaps its wings in Dublin the energy it sets in motion can result in a tornado in far-away Pietermaritzburg. This right to protection of life and fair treatment of all life forms as a universal right is still far from being realized today.
There is a strong focus on rights in society today. However every right should be balanced with a responsibility on the part of everyone; individual, family and other institutions have the responsibility to ensure that the particular right is upheld.
Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person endowed with basic and inalienable rights. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, especially the family as the basic cell of society. It calls for the welfare of society, social peace, stability and security provided by a certain order. Society as a whole, and the state in particular are obliged to defend and promote the common good. LS 157. The rights of some to free enterprise and market freedom cannot supersede the rights of peoples and the dignity of the poor, or respect for the natural environment, for to make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. FT 122.
Setting the scene. Lent is about stock-taking, conversion and revisiting our relationships with God, one another and creation. It is also about performing acts of Love and Sacrifice. The three Catholic practices of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer, personal or communal, makes room for God in our lives. Fasting can mean denying ourselves, possibly something we particularly like, to share with others in need, or just as self-denial. Almsgiving is sharing with others some of our gifts, time, talents, money or other possessions.
March 1. No one wo has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father, or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel who will not receive a hundredfold The new bishop had some innovative ideas. In his Lenten pastoral letter he wrote, “This month in SA is Human Rights month, but we, in our Church, can make it FAMILY RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES month too. I recommend that parishes and their PPCs and different desks combine for Lenten reflections on this. Did you know that the SA Government Basic Education Department produced a Bill of Responsibilities for the Youth of South Africa in 2008 that links with the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. I suggest that it is equally appropriate for the youth and for families to reflect on. It can be broken down into daily reflections.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Mark 10:28-31: No one wo has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father, or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, house and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life. Charter of Family Rights Article 4e : The rights of the person, even though they are expressed as rights of the individual have a fundamental social dimension which finds an innate and vital expression in the family. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock enjoy the same right to social protection with a view to their integral personal development. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 8: The right to own property places on me the responsibility to take pride in and protect private and public property and not to take what belongs to others. Choose an Act of Love and Sacrifice from the list also published on www.marfam.org.za/lent\
March 2. Ash Wednesday. Even now return to me with all your heart, All the learners from St Pius XII school, whether they were Catholic or not went to get their ashes on their foreheads. “Why do you do this?” the RE teacher asked the class. “Dunno.” “We just do it every year.” “It’s tradition and then we all give up something during Lent. But we’re not really supposed to tell what,“ one Grade 6 girl said. Josh called out the three tasks of Lent: prayer, fasting, almsgiving. “There is the penance part, but we can also take up some extra sacrifice that really challenges one’s willpower.” “In our family at home we often do things together during Lent. The ashes remind us that it is time to pull up our socks as we’re all just made of the dust of the earth.” ”God is kind and forgives our faults. Jesus tells us that and shows us how.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Even now return to me with all your heart, with fasting with weeping and with mourning and tear your hearts and not your garments” says the Lord. Joel 2:12 . Pope Francis: Ecological spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world. The life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities but lived in and with them in communion with all that surrounds us. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 1: The right to equality places on me the responsibility to treat every person equally and fairly. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 3. I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. “Road rage is a horrible thing but surely it is so often brought on by someone breaking the law, or being selfish in the traffic,” Mohale said. ”Taxis are the worst on the road,” Gordon added. Joyce said, “The recent load shedding that we have been faced with has messed up the traffic flow, multiplied our anger and frustration and the accident rate on the roads no end. Where is the evil in all that and then, how can I deal with the situation in the most “life-giving” way. “ Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Moses said, “see I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments then you shall live. Deut 30:15-20 Pope Francis: Let us say to the Lord, “I am angry with this person. I pray to you for him. To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, an act of evangelisation. Let us do it today. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the ideal of fraternal love. EG 101. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 2: The right to human dignity places on me the responsibility to treat people with reverence, respect and dignity. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 4. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry. The Nkosis sat together at the beginning of Lent to discuss how they would fast and make their acts of love and sacrifice. “Let us have a family fast day once a week,” Amy suggested. “But we should really also give the food we would have eaten, or the money to a poor or homeless family, as well as some clothes.” “And on other days? “ Busi asked. “Let us pray about that, to help us choose meaningful acts of love and sacrifice, like always switching off lights or just for once giving up colddrinks, or writing a message to your grandmother,” Dad said. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house, when you see the naked to cover him and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58;1-9. Pope Francis: We know that approximately a third of all food produced is thrown away and whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor. LS 50. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 8: The right to own property places on me the responsibility to give generously to charity and good causes whenever I am able to do so. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 5. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Bernard, as usual, was argumentative. “I don’t see why tax collectors should be sinners. Don’t they have a right to work for SARS or whatever form it took in those days. Surely that doesn’t make them sinners.” Refilwe explained, “in those days tax collectors worked for the oppressors, and were often dishonest and cheated people. But it wasn’t just them. There were inspectors checking up on people’s documentation. It was like that here in the apartheid days before we considered the question of human rights and family rights such as being able to live together as a family in one place.“ Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32 Pope Francis: Free and heartfelt forgiveness is something noble, a reflection of God’s own infinite ability to forgive. It can be shown even to someone who resists repentance and is unable to beg pardon. Those who truly forgive do not forget. FT250-1. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 8. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves as a nation to strive for justice, fairness and peaceful co-existence. The healing of past prejudices and divisions is required to ensure the promotion of democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights for all. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 6. Sunday Lent 1C. Temptation. The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world. Fr Oliver asked the altar servers, “I know you have been studying about temptation. What was Jesus being tempted to do? Mpumi knew the three temptations, “turn stones into bread, worship the devil and test God to see if God would protect him.” “Yes, but what is behind those and how do they apply to us?” Fr continued. “Could there be temptations to want power, material, political or religious power, even making them into idols? That is worshipping the devil too? I think you need to go and discuss this more at home and think about our own reality with all the bribery and corruption we keep hearing about.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and said, I will give you all this authority and glory to you if you will worship me.” Luke 4:1-13. Pope Francis: The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money. Man is reduced to one of his needs alone, consumption. EG 56. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 2. Promote responsible freedom, the rule of law and democracy as the basis for justice, fairness and good governance. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 7. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people. Therese was thinking, “There is a lot about laws and rules in the Old Testament isn’t there, especially the book of Leviticus? But maybe that is suitable for Lent to get us to do some looking into our own sins. How many grudges do I bear and how many grudges are against those close to me? Sometimes recognising their rights when I don’t agree is the hardest thing of all. I wonder why? Sometimes it seems easier to go and love your neighbour then to make peace with your own family. Most of us wouldn’t treat other people the way we treat our own family. Why is there more domestic violence, abuse and incest within a family? Why can’t we be responsible where it matters most? Reflect, share and act. Scripture: You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. Lev 19:11-18. Pope Francis: We cannot forget that mercy is not only the working of the Father, it becomes a criterion for knowing who his true children are. We are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us. AL 310. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 4: My responsibility in ensuring the right to family care expects me to be kind and loyal to my family, my brothers and sisters, grandparents and all my relatives. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 8. My word shall not return to me empty but accomplish that which I intend. ”Graham had made a serious commitment to read the scripture passages for the day during Lent. He noted that very often in these Old Testament readings it was God speaking, “The Lord says….” He realized that God speaks through people, like the prophet Isaiah and others. “I think God is speaking to me too to encourage others around me to listen to His word and follow what it is telling us. Now I must pray that they will listen to me.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Thus says the Lord, ”As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word not return to me empty but accomplish that which I intend.” Isa 55:10-11. Pope Francis: The family is called to join in daily prayer, to read the word of God and to share in Eucharistic communion and so to grow in love and become ever more fully a temple in which the Spirit dwells. AL29. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 9: The right to freedom of religion and conscience places on me the responsibility to allow others to choose and practice the religion of their choice and to hold their own beliefs and opinions without fear or prejudice. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 9. Let them be covered with sackcloth and let them cry mightily to God. Paula, the joker said, “Remember the other day we talked about fasting. Well I’ve never seen anyone putting on sackcloth. It must feel horrible. But that is not the point is it? It is about repentance. I like the word metanoia. It is turning back from times when we have abused our own rights and ignored rights of others. I think it is also about responsibility, the opposite of rights. Our family did an exercise on family rights; the right to life, to a house, and lots of stuff that doesn’t all apply to me now, but I do have a lot to be responsible for, even how to use my time and my money.“ Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The king made a proclamation: “let neither man nor beast taste anything, let them not feed or drink but let them be covered with sackcloth and let them cry mightily to God: let him turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger.” God saw what they did and did not do what he said he would do to them. Jonah 3:1-10 Pope Francis: Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes. ‘by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.’ By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws for the Lord by wisdom founded the earth. LS 69. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 8: The right to own property places on me the responsibility to protect private and public property and not take what belongs to others. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 10. Queen Esther seized with deathly anxiety fled to the Lord. Lucie was the one who opened the sharing. “When you think about it leaders and rulers have rights but we often talk about their responsibilities, saying they should do what they are supposed to do for the people. But there are also always jealous people, scheming and plotting against the good leaders, and others willing to creep into bed with bad leaders for personal gain. In a small way we are all like the leaders, having responsibilities and rights and sometimes going against what we know is just. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Queen Esther seized with deathly anxiety fled to the Lord. Save us from the hand of our enemies. Esther 14. Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.” Mat 7:7. Pope Francis. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human. It is felt to be a threat since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. EG 56. MRM Positive Values 5. We dedicate ourselves to upholding honesty, integrity and loyalty as key social values to be upheld in good governance. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 11. Go first to be reconciled to your brother. Martha was careful about the point she wanted to make. “Conflict in extended families is not uncommon. They may all have grown up together but one sibling may be more or less successful than another, cleverer, have more children or, in some cultures, more wives, all of which may lead to jealousy and resentment. Expectations about rights and responsibilities in traditional families are quite complex as there is also an expectation of helping other family members financially or materially. Modern day young adults sometimes challenge traditions of patriarchy or the rights of a mother-in-law and may want to do away with them. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement. If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your gift there and go first to be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift. From Matt 5:20-26 Pope Francis: The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. AL 193. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 4: My responsibility in ensuring the right to family or parental care is to honour and respect my parents and to recognize that love means long-term commitment and the responsibility to establish strong and loving families. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 12. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Nicholas came up with some awkward questions. “Should prisoners have rights, or soldiers on each side in a war? Do rights only apply to good people, or also to those who have done something wrong, or if we disagree with someone? I think that can be difficult in a family too. After all rights come from being created in the image of God, which we all are.” Mrs Meyer thought to herself of her son and others, even priests, in prison for sexually abusing a child. She found it hard to forgive her son for the abuse and thinking about the family of the child made her wonder even more how they could be forgiving. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. From the SACBC to the Clergy, Religious and Faithful, December 2016. Brothers and Sisters, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, called on the universal Church to fast and pray for the healing and consolation of those who have been sexually abused, especially women, children and vulnerable people. We, your Bishops, acknowledge our failures at times in adequately dealing with issues especially within our own church structures. We want to work with all structures in society and especially our priests, church personnel and church workers in creating a safe environment for children and vulnerable people. We ask forgiveness for ourselves and for our clergy. Archbishop Brislin. Catholic Charter of Family Rights 9d. The rights and necessities of the family, and especially the value of family unity, must be taken into consideration in penal legislation and policy, in such a way that a detainee remains in contact with his or her family and that the family is adequately sustained during the period of detention. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 2: The right to dignity places on me the responsibility to treat people with reverence, respect and dignity. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 13. Sunday Lent 2C. Transfiguration. As he was praying the appearance of his countenance was altered. Fr Sylvester wondered if South Africans live with fear more than other peoples. Security is one of the biggest industries in the country. He explained to the congregation that the Transfiguration story of Jesus being seen in a new glorious way was giving courage to the disciples. It is always read during Lent because Jesus wanted to prepare his apostles for the time when he would be handed over to his enemies, suffer and be put to death. We all have fears and anxieties that we bring and share with Jesus knowing that we can put our trust in him. “I invite you to reflect on this issue of fear and courage and share with one another in your families.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Jesus took Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he was praying the appearance of his countenance was altered and his clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah, talked with him about his exodus. Peter said to Jesus, “Master it is well that we are here. Let us make three booths one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” A cloud came and overshadowed them and they were afraid. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying,“This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!” Luke 9:28-36. Pope Francis: Our contemplations of the fulfilment yet to come allows us to put the historical journey we make as families in perspective. In this way we stop demanding of our interpersonal relationships a perfection which we will only encounter in the Kingdom to come. AL 325. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 7: My responsibility in ensuring the right to freedom and security of the person is upheld by not hurting, bullying or intimidating others or allowing others to do so and solving any conflict in a peaceful manner. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 14. To us Oh Lord, belongs confusion of face because we have sinned against you. Moses spoke as a parent. “Is living with justice and mercy a right, or a responsibility, or even a duty born of love, something we learn from the example of God? We parents struggle with discipline and finding suitable punishments these days for kids of all ages. Self-discipline is important and enforcing discipline, teaching moral values and right behaviour is both a right and a responsibility that I don’t think that all of us parents are very well equipped for. Maybe we should run that parenting course after Easter.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: To us Oh Lord, belongs confusion of face because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, because we have rebelled against him. Dan 9:4-10. Pope Francis: It is essential to help children realise misbehaviour has consequences. It is important that discipline not lead to discouragement but to be instead a stimulus to further progress. AL 268-270 SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 5. The right to education places on me (the learner) the responsibility to attend school regularly and work hard, on parents the responsibility to ensure children receive their support and attend school and on teachers the responsibility to promote and reflect the culture of learning and teaching.:. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 15. Practise and observe whatever they tell you, but not do what they do, for the preach but do not practice. Mike was interested in justice and peace issues. “We all have a right and a responsibility to judge for ourselves who and what is right and wrong. Who to vote for or if you should pay your e-tolls or what action to take with regard to climate change and economic justice. Then we also have to stand up for what we believe. It’s no good complaining about the government and then still take no action against injustice or support them.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practise and observe whatever they tell you, but not do what they do, for they preach but do not practise. Matt 23:1-2. Pope Francis: Freedom is something magnificent, yet it can also be dissipated and lost. Moral education has to do with cultivating freedom through ideas, incentives, practical applications, rewards, examples and more. AL 267. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 9. My responsibility in ensuring the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion requires me to respect the beliefs and opinions of others and their right to express these, even when I may disagree. That is what it means to be a free democracy. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 16. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. “Because there are so many single moms these days surely it is right for them to go all out for their kids and want the best for them. That is a way to show their love.” That is what a group of families discussed. “Yes, but not pushing them to the front, even at the expense of others or beyond their capabilities. That isn’t fair on anyone and that is what Jesus said to the mother who wanted her sons to have special places in heaven.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Jesus said, ‘you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant. The Son of man came not to be served but to serve’. From Matt 20:17-28 Pope Francis: Parents are responsible for shaping the will of their children, fostering good habits and an inclination to goodness. The habit of foregoing immediate pleasure for the sake of a better and more orderly life in common is a great value. AL 264 Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 6,4. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves as a nation to ensure harmony in culture, belief and conscience. Racial and ethnic diversity has the capacity to inspire and enrich a culture and value system. Family and community values as they are core socializing units that inspire and create the moral and ethical values in society. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 17. Cursed is the man who trusts in people. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Young Jerry was called after the prophet Jeremiah who had started his important ministry while he was still young. As the prophet had grown old and tired he was often disillusioned with the people who wouldn’t listen. At times in his dialogue with God Jeremiah even said he just wanted to sit down and die. His ministry was speaking out on behalf of God, judging right from wrong and recognizing human weakness. Jerry’s dad admired Jeremiah but warned his son that like for the prophet it isn’t easy in life to stand up for what you believe.
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Cursed is the man who trusts in people. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt. I, the Lord search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruits of his doings. Jer 17:5-10. Pope Francis: Doing what is right means more than judging what seems best or knowing clearly what needs to be done. We have to arrive at the point where the good that the intellect grasps can take root in us as a thirst for the good that outweighs other attractions. AL 265. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 8. Committed to the spirit of democracy embedded in our constitution we dedicate ourselves as a nation to strive for justice, fairness and peaceful co-existence which with mutual respect are the basis for national reconciliation. The healing of past prejudices and divisions is required to ensure the promotion of democratic values, social justice and human rights for all. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 18. Favouritism, discrimination and envy. Human Rights month and Day in South Africa commemorates the Sharpeville killings of innocent protestors over social injustice. In today’s bible account Joseph, the favourite son of his father, Jacob, was also an innocent victim. He was abused by his brothers as they were jealous when his father gave Joseph a multi-coloured coat. His brothers wanted to get rid of him. Fortunately for him he was rescued and taken to Egypt, a foreign country, where he had to fend for himself but made good. How do we treat foreigners amongst us and do we respect their dignity and rights? Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Genesis 37 tells the long story of Joseph and his brothers. Pope Francis: Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s prosperity; it shows that we are not concerned for the happiness of others but only with our own well-being. Love makes us rise above ourselves, envy closes us in on ourselves. Love inspires a sincere esteem for every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 1. My responsibility in ensuring the right to equality expects me not to discriminate unfairly against anyone on the basis of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 19. St Joseph. Mary’s husband being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame resolved to send her away quietly. Fr Brian explained,“Pope Francis instituted 2021 as a Year for St Joseph with his letter Patris Corde, but he continues to reflect on the role of Joseph. The letter describes Joseph from the perspective of fatherhood in a number of beautiful ways; a beloved father, tender and loving father, obedient, accepting, creatively courageous, working, but finally her refers to “a father in the shadows.” The letter was written against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day. Often in life, things happen whose meaning we do not understand. Our first reaction is frequently one of disappointment and rebellion. Joseph set aside his own ideas in order to accept the course of events and, mysterious as they seemed, to embrace them, take responsibility and make them part of his own history. Unless we are reconciled with our own history, we will be unable to take a single step forward, for we will always remain hostage to our expectations and disappointments that follow. The spiritual path that Joseph traces for us is not one that explains, but accepts. Only as a result of this acceptance, this reconciliation, can we begin to glimpse a broader history, a deeper meaning.”
In considering Joseph’s role ask how committed and responsible most men are as fathers, and especially foster or stepfathers in caring for those in their homes? Are they offered help in managing this task?
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Her husband being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Matt 1:16-24. Pray the Prayer to St Joseph from Patris Corde. Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 4. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves as a nation to enhance sound family and community values as core socializing units that inspire and create the moral and ethical values in society. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 20. Sunday Lent 3C. If it bears fruit next year well and good, but if not, you can cut it down. Fr Oliver reminded the congregation, “We’re nearing the end of the summer and autumn season and we have seen how parts of Africa have had major climatic disasters with cyclones killing hundreds, displacing thousands, causing floods and destroying homes and even whole villages. In other parts drought still exists that will lead to famine in the months to come. Wars and conflicts contribute, but the natural disasters have highlighted how nature has been harmed by our human activity. “To what extent have we been responsible for the devastation in God’s great garden and how can we begin to act more responsibly to protect all life and biodiversity? We are a continent of farmers and market gardeners and can reflect on God as a merciful gardener, caring for his fruit trees. At the same time let us not test his patience. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Let me dig about the fig tree and put on manure. If it bears fruit next year well and good, but if not, you can cut it down. Luke 13:1-9. Pope Francis: God’s patience does not simply have to do with enduring all things. We encounter problems when we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the centre and expect things to turn out our way. AL 91-92. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 10. My responsibility in ensuring the right to live in a safe environment expects me to promote sustainable development and the conservation and preservation of the natural environment. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 21. HUMAN RIGHTS DAY SA. If the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” Abel had done research into the history of Human Rights Day in South Africa, the tragic incident in our history way back in 1960 when many innocent marchers, during a peaceful protest, were killed and wounded by police. He asked, “How often since then have more innocent people been killed, families deprived of their loved ones and livehoods destroyed. Have those who are guilty been held responsible? This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, which is meant to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all citizens, and the same question must be asked with urgency. Who is responsible for the wellbeing of another, but each and every citizen, together with our leaders in every area? The late Anglican Archbishop Tutu said “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman, the leper, saying “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times.” But Naaman was angry and said, “I thought he would come out to me.” So he went away in a rage. But his servant said, “My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” So he went and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and his flesh was restored like that of a little child and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:1-15. Pope Francis: The Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. It is my desire that in this time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal sense of fraternity, brotherhood between all men and women. Let us dream as a single human family each with his or her own voice. FT8. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 2. Committed to democracy as embedded in our constitution we dedicate ourselves to promote responsible freedom, the rule of law and democracy as the basis of justice, fairness, nation-building and good governance. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 22. Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?” Pauline shared, “There is an awful lot of blaming and shaming going on these days. If it is not shady business deals or state capture it is sexual harassment. I’ve always thought that justice should be done but it seems that deals are being made to write off debts or to pay money to prevent charges being laid. Was it always like that one wonders or is society just becoming more dishonest.” Her brother was quick to answer. “Read the gospel of the servants to whom money was owed. One was generous and wrote off the debt and the other wanted his “pound of flesh.” “Sure,” their dad said, “ but what God expects is for us to be merciful and forgiving. Isn’t that even going beyond what is fair?” Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?” Matthew 18:21-35. Pope Francis: In marriage and family life unexpected situations occur disrupting family life and requiring forgiveness and reconciliation. In resolving sincerely to forgive each has to ask quietly and humbly if he or she has not somehow created the conditions that led to the other’s mistake. To know how to forgive and feel forgiven is a basic experience in family life. AL 236. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 3. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves improve material well-being and economic justice. The socio-economic rights that are part of our constitution must be seen as more than inspirational rights. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 23. I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God commanded me. Jonathan had done his homework and studied the Constitution. “The Constitution of a country does not belong to any political party but to every citizen. That might be forgotten in parliament or when election come up and all political parties are lobbying for their own policies and interpretations of the law. Our bishops also dialogue with the state to promote pro-family, pro-life policies for the good of the whole of our society. Special interest groups also lobby for environmental rights and justice.
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Moses said, “I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the Lord my God commanded me. Keep them and do them for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will say, “surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Deut 4:1-9. Pope Francis: Families have a right to be able to count on an adequate family policy on the part of public authorities. Love overflowing with small gestures of mutual care is also civic and political and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in social dynamics we should realise that this too is part of our spirituality. LS231. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 5. My responsibility in ensuring the right to education expects me to attend school regularly, to learn and to work hard, cooperate respectfully with teachers and fellow learners. It places on parents and teachers the responsibility to promote the culture of learning. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 24. “This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord, their God, and did not accept discipline, Stephen, a lawyer said, “It is difficult to legislate for the common good and for things like ecological conversion. It has been very interesting to see how much money and energy has gone into fighting the Covid-19 virus. At the same time climate change has gone way down on the public agenda even though it is just as urgent and serious in the long term. Of course it is less clearly identifiable, but shouldn’t be. We have all seen how this last year has seen major climate catastrophes even closer to home “ Joyce added, “Even though activists and the popes too have spoken about it for many years as part of Catholic Social Teaching, it has not become a mainstream issue there either. Who knows or has studied Laudato Si? How many people have measured their carbon footprint?. Often, too, it is a humanitarian or human good that cannot be enforced but should be promoted. Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti, calls on all people, beyond Catholic believers. We humans are the element of creation that can make decisions We cannot expect the animal kingdom or the plant kingdom to do that.
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: You shall call to them but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, “This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord, their God, and did not accept discipline, truth has perished, it is cut off from their lips. Jer. 7:23-28. Pope Francis: A journey of peace is possible between religions. Its point of departure must be God’s way of seeing things. God’s love is the same for everyone, regardless of religion. It follows that we believers need to find occasions to speak with one another and to act together for the common good and the poor. This has nothing to do with watering down or concealing our deepest convictions. FT 281-2. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 12. My responsibility in ensuring the right to live in a safe environment is to protect animal and plant-life, as well as the responsibility to prevent pollution, not to litter and ensure that our homes, schools, streets and public places are kept neat and tidy. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 25. The Annunciation. Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” Pearl shared some of her insights with the others on the feast of the Annunciation. “Mary, a young girl, betrothed to be married, had her life completely turned upside down by the invitation she received through the angel Gabriel to be the mother of the Messiah. She rightly questioned the angel, asking how this could be possible, but her ‘yes’ to God was unconditional. From that moment on she devoted her life to her Son. This was nevertheless an unplanned pregnancy, and at that time it could have been as problematical as it has been for many other young women until our day. According to custom she could have been killed but Joseph had responded positively to God’s message in a dream, and accepted and treasured Mary as his wife and Jesus as his son. Unwed mothers in different cultures have had very difficult experiences, as was reported in Ireland a while ago, where the moms and their babies were badly mistreated in institutions, because of the judgmental attitudes of the Church, the community and their own families too. Today, abortion is legal in South Africa and is too commonly chosen but it remains seriously sinful. Social and family support for the right to life of unborn babies should always be available.
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” From Luke 1:26-38. Pope Francis: The Church has been present for centuries throughout the world and all things human are our concern. Wherever the councils of nations come together to establish the rights and duties of man, we are honoured to take our place among them. This journey of fraternity also has a Mother, whose name is Mary. Having received universal motherhood at the foot of the cross she cares not only for Jesus but also for the rest of her children. She wants to give birth to a new world, where all of us are brothers and sisters. FT 278. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 3. The right to life places on me the responsibility to protect and defend the lives of others, not endanger the lives of others and live a healthy life by exercising, eating correctly, not smoking abusing alcohol or drugs or indulging in irresponsible behaviour. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 26. The Lord said, “I desire mercy not sacrifice. Fr Oliver was himself a foreigner and in some ways he could identify more with his compatriots than with the local people. Their faith experience, way of worshipping and family life was different but important to them. Some families had been split up with adults and children divided, but many were also trying to build a new life in a foreign country. They are not always well accepted and therefore their church community and liturgy is really important and they are naturally inclined to stick to their own people. In his ministry he realized that he had to find the way to balance belonging and integration with their faith journey. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The Lord said, “I desire mercy not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:1-6. Pope Francis: Pastoral activity must be implemented with due respect for their cultures, for the human and religious formation from which they come and for the spiritual richness of their rites and traditions. AL 46. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 1. The right to equality places on me the responsibility to treat every person equally and fairly and not to discriminate against anyone. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 27. Sunday Lent 4C. The son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country and there he squandered his property in loose living. . Deacon Paul told the congregation, “After you have read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s gospel let us adapt the story and put it into a modern day context and see what we can learn from that.
“Jose Manuel had come from Madeira with practically nothing but some sound words of advice from his mother. “Find yourself a good girl who will be a good mother to your children and when you’re in trouble pray to the Virgin.” He had been lucky that an uncle was able to help him get a job and being hardworking he was soon earning good money and could impress the girls. He did marry a good girl who bore him three daughters and, after much prayer to the Virgin, finally a son. His bottle-store business was going well and he had become a rich and influential man in the community. He doted on the boy Paolo and gave him everything he wanted, but seldom took notice of his Maria and their daughters who came to resent their spoilt little brother. At high school Paolo started getting into trouble. There were plenty of friends to help him spend his money. They introduced him to alcohol and drugs and of course girls. At first his father refused to listen and would brush Maria aside when she and the girls tried to talk to him. After Paolo was arrested for drunken driving and Jose had to bail him out for the second time, he was very angry and gave the boy an ultimatum. “Get your life together or leave home,” he shouted, never thinking that would happen, but it did. Arrogantly Paolo chose to leave home, demanded his inheritance and left town. Jose Manuel was shattered. At first he was angry and stormed around the store and house yelling at everyone. Then he became withdrawn and would sit by the window looking down the road. The daughters took over running the business. At times Jose ranted and raved, at times he even cried but always he blamed everyone else. Days, weeks and months passed. Paolo had secretly been in touch with his mother on whatsapp and even sometimes asked her for money. She tried to talk to his father but he refused to listen. She started a novena to the Virgin Mary and left pictures of Paolo around the house.
One night Jose had a dream, seeing young Paolo playing his first soccer match and scoring his first goal. When the team lost the match, the boy came running to his dad in tears. Jose hugged him saying, “Don’t worry son I’ll always be there for you.” The next morning he asked Maria, “Do you know where Paolo is? Do you think he needs me?” “But of course, Papa” Paolo’s mother said, “He and you have always needed each other but sometimes you are both too proud. Why don’t you call him and ask him to come home for Easter.” He picked up the phone. “Hi dad,” came the reply, “I was just about to call you. I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been too well. I really would like to come home for Easter. Is that OK with you?”
Deacon concluded the story, “Is it possible that behind every forgiving father is a manipulative, concerned, never-letting-go, determined-to-make-peace mother? Could we maybe even say that mercy is one of the feminine qualities of God? Where do you most experience mercy in your families? ”
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Read the parable in Luke 15:1-3,11-32. Pope Francis. The woman stands before the man as a mother, the subject of the new life that is conceived and develops in her and from her is born into the world. Every child has a right to receive love from a mother and a father, both are necessary for a child’s integral and harmonious development. Respecting a child’s dignity means affirming his or her need and natural right to have a mother and a father. If for some inevitable reason one parent should be lacking it is important to compensate for this loss for the sake of the child’s healthy growth to maturity. AL172-3. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 4. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu we dedicate ourselves as a nation to enhance sound family and community values as the core socializing units that inspire and create the moral and ethical values in society. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 28. A new heaven and a new earth. Thus says the Lord. “Behold I create new heavens and a new earth. Mrs Beatus spoke to the group: The 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic has been and continues to be a difficult time, but it is certainly not the only pandemic history has seen, although it is the most wide-spread, because of the nature of our global village. Creation in all its forms has suffered and survived many disasters, but human beings are the only ones who have the means to be able to take responsibility. Judgement and punishment for wrongdoing is necessary but hope is always there, God never abandons his people.
From The Care of Creation – a Franciscan spirituality of the earth. Ilia Delio et al. God created, was present and continues to be present in his love, throughout the life of Jesus, his resurrection and the final transformation of all creation, as foretold in the gospels and the book of Revelation. Relationship is the key to the beauty of the universe. Since all reality is good, then my relationship with others, human and non-human ought to promote goodness
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: Thus says the Lord. “Behold I create new heavens and a new earth. Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create, for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. No more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping or the cry of distress.” Isaiah 65: 17-28. Pope Francis: If we accept the great principle that there are rights born of our inalienable human dignity, we can rise to the challenge of envisaging a new humanity. We can aspire to a world that provides land, house and work for all. This is the true path of peace which will only be possible in the event of solidarity as the whole human family. FT 127. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 10. My responsibility in ensuing the right to live in a safe environment is to protect animal and plant-life as well prevent pollution and not litter. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 29. They will bear fresh fruit every month because the water flows from the sanctuary. Wherever the rives goes every living creature will live. Marissa shared in her family group. “I read a post on facebook that someone discovered that the river Nile originated in South Africa. The town Nylstroom, now called Modimole, in Limpopo, is built alongside the river and the Egyptian government is going to build a big resort there especially for Egyptian tourists. “You lie,” was the response. “Oh well, stranger things have been said,” she answered. “The Nile does have such a magical image. Rivers and water are a major environmental concern and it has been a most precious resource throughout the ages.
In our day, due to pollution and the effect of mining, farming and industry unsafe water is found in many places and results in many deaths and the spread of water-borne diseases. St Francis honoured the gift of water in his Canticles of the Creatures. Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Most likely, however, in his time and place serious water scarcity and drought would have been unlikely.
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The prophet Ezekiel speaks of his vision: On the banks on both sides of the river there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fall, but they will bear fresh fruit every month because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Wherever the rives goes every living creature will live. Eze 47:1-12. Pope Francis: Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity to privatise this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right. Oceans not only contain the bulk of our planet’s water supply but also most of the immense variety of living creatures, many of them still unknown to us and threatened for various reasons. Marine life in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans is affected by massive waste pollution, especially plastic which is non-biodegradable. LS40. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 10. My responsibility in ensuing the right to live in a safe environment in the context of climate change is to ensure we do not waste scarce resources like water and electricity. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent. Many forms of saving water can be practiced at home. Think of all the possibilities you can choose.
March 30. Zion said, “the Lord has forgotten me.” The Lord replied, “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you Fr Jim shared, “I envy people who always seem to have really strong faith in God. Mine tends to waver from time to time. During the Year of Mercy I heard some very sad stories and I have found it hard sometimes to be honest in encouraging them. Like the young mother who had been gang-raped and shared that she had no energy or love for her expected baby. I couldn’t blame her but shared the passage from Isaiah that gives me hope. First God promises to save them, then he tells them to rejoice, but the people remain sceptical. Finally God replies again with the famous saying about a woman and her baby. Reflect, share and act. Scripture: “Sing for joy O heaven, for the Lord has comforted his people. But Zion said, “the Lord has forgotten me.” The Lord replied, ”Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Is 49:8-15. Pope Francis: Conscience can recognise with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits. AL303. SA Youth Responsibilities Bill 4. My responsibility in ensuring the right to family or parental care expects me to recognize that love means long-term commitment and the responsibility to establish strong and loving families. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
March 31. The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this stiff-necked people. Many parents these days are seriously concerned about their children, the way they live and how they flout family and school rules on all sorts of issues. The social worker didn’t have to tell them, “Whether it is drugs, sex or bullying, stealing or engaging in violence at school, it seems the youth have forgotten what is right. Do you parents enforce punishment, even have your children arrested if necessary? Do you then ask for leniency or try to get them off? What is really the answer to problem behaviour in our youth as well as ourselves as parents?”
Reflect, share and act. Scripture: The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this stiff-necked people now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn against them. But Moses begged the Lord, “why does your wrath burn hot against your people? Turn from your fierce wrath and repent of this evil against your people. Read Exodus 32:7-14. Pope Francis: Children who are lovingly corrected feel cared for. One of the things children need to learn from their parents is not to get carried away by anger. A child who does something wrong must be corrected, but never treated as an enemy. AL 269. Justice and mercy are not two contradictory realities but two dimensions of a single reality that unfolds progressively until it culminates in the fullness of love. Jesus goes beyond the law and affirms that the rule for life must place mercy at the centre. FM 20. Moral Regeneration Movement Positive Values Charter 2. Committed to the spirit of ubuntu and democracy we dedicate ourselves to promote responsible freedom and the rule of law which are the basis of justice, fairness and nation-bulding. Choose an act of love and sacrifice from the list, also published at www.marfam.org.za/lent
Part II of Lenten Reflections will be available in the form of APRIL DAILY THOUGHTS for Lent and Holy Week.