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\