2022 OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES  

MARFAM DAILY THOUGHTS  WITH  THE SEASON OF CREATION  1 SEPTEMBER TO 4 OCTOBER.

FAMILY YEAR PLANNER SEPTEMBER THEME “OUR WORLD OF FAMILIES” and OCTOBER THEME “FAMILY ON MISSION.”          

DAILY THOUGHTS are available on www.marfam.org.za, facebook and twitter. Request for email to info@marfam.org.za.  

INTRODUCTION. SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER.  The awareness of creation and our responsibility for the CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME is outlined by Pope Francis outlines in his encyclical LAUDATO SI. The MARFAM theme OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES is a helpful insight into understanding the wonder of the whole human family as well as the family forms found in nature.  Every single family of any kind, from the different forms of human families, to the ancient colossuses of trees in our forests, and the tiniest of creatures in the sea, has a role to play in co-operation in creation through reproduction and sustaining our world as a family of families. 

We, the human family, uniquely have the power to deliberately choose our mission and we cannot afford selfish greed, or hurtful violence, but are called to adopt God’s mission of love of all the creatures. As a massive mission it demands commitment and all our resources, but it has the potential for healing the harm we have done to our world. St Francis, the patron saint of ecology can be our inspiration on our mission.  The human family, in its various forms, with different religions, political ideologies and experiences of wealth and poverty is 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 this the world we wish to leave to future generations?  

The ecumenical Season of Creation begins on 1 September with World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and ends on 4 October the feastday of St Francis. Supported by many churches including the Catholic Church it offers a range of resources and celebrations e.g. Blessing of Pets around feast of St Francis. Our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. In prayer we lament the individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. By action we listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.  

Pope Francis message for the World Day of Prayer. If we learn to listen we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other an anguished plea lamenting our mistreatment of our common home. During this Season of Creation let us pray that the upcoming conferences COP 27 on climate change and COP 15 on biodiversity can serve to unite the human family in effectively confronting the double crisis of climate change and the reduction or biodiversity. It is our sister mother earth who cries out in a call to us to repentance and ecological conversion.  Ecological education can take place at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere. Good education plants seeds when we are young, that continue to bear fruit throughout life.  LS213.

DOWNLOAD RESOURCES:

  • The Season of Creation Celebration Guide is a comprehensive overview with references and can be downloaded and studied.  https://www.laudatosi.org/ecumenical/season-of-creation/season-of-creation-2022/ 
  • Google SEASON OF CREATION 2022 for many materials from different sources including the SACBC.
  • Check out Season of Creation and Laudato Si’ Movement social media posts on facebook, twitter, Instagram and register for regular emails.  
  • Sign the healthy planet healthy people petition. At  https://healthyplanetandpeople.org/
  • As this is an ecumenical project approach other Christian churches to share resources and activities.

Setting the scene for the MARFAM DAILY THOUGHTS. A 4 step SEE-JUDGE-ACT format is used. 1. A look at life – Parish Justice and Peace and Family Ministry team family activity, an eco-safari. 2. Scripture from readings of the day. 3. Pope Francis writings, particularly Laudato Si’. 4. Daily Eco-tip and prayer. Suggested family prayer for the season is   Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.    

Abbreviations:  Pope Francis: LS = Laudato Si. AL = Amoris Laetitia  FT = Fratelli Tutti.  EG = Evangelii Gaudium   

PRAYERS FOR THE SEASON OF CREATION

St Francis Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing, To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name. Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs. Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,  and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned. Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Peace Prayer of St Francis  

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
 O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.   Amen.

A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH  from Laudato Si 246

All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.  You embrace with tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. Help us to rescue and abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives that we may protect the world and not prey upon it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us in our struggle for justice, love and peace.   Amen

MAGNIFICAT

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

September 1. WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CREATION. SEASON OF CREATION 2022 THEME: LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF CREATION.   Bruce announced,  “Our family has decided to go a an eco-safari, exploring what we can about nature and our country. Like many families we are concerned about the state of the world, which is our home. Can you believe that there was a time when people believed that the world was flat, standing on pillars in the waters below with the sky a dome above?   It is amazing how different branches of science are showing us much more about our world, the whole universe, and our particular place in it.  The Bible gives us two different creation stories but what really matters is the message. God is the Creator and created everything out of love and for love.  Everything from the sun, the moon and the stars, to water, air and land and every creature, large and small has its place. Human beings hold a unique and special place in creation because we are made in God’s own image and likeness. As individuals but also as a couple together they mirror the relationship of love of the Trinity.   

Scripture. The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world, and all who dwell in it. It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm.  PS 24. Pope Francis extract from the Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creationy:  It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home and an opportunity to cultivate our “ecological conversion”, If we learn how to listen, we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand, we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other, an anguished plea, lamenting our mistreatment of this our common home. The sweet song of creation invites us to practise an “ecological spirituality” (LS 216), attentive to God’s presence in the natural world and to base our spirituality on the “loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion” LS220. For the followers of Christ this reinforces our awareness that “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Jn 1:3) 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  This World Day of Prayer begins the Season of Creation. Check the media for any significant climate related events anywhere in the world, e.g. flood, drought, fire, hurricane, cold, heatwave, etc.  Offer a prayer in union with those affected.   End with Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen

September 2.  Plant ecosystems. On their eco-safari the family visited a vineyard, and after experiencing a wine-tasting they held a discussion about wine but also considered substance abuse.  “While we do love wine we often see alcohol as a problem.  In Jesus’ time it was already a common drink and obviously there was good and less mature wine.” Young Melody piped up, “Like we know from the story of the wedding feast at Cana!”  

Scripture:    No one puts new wine into old wineskins, if he does the new wine will burst skins and it will be spilled.   New wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine desires new: for he says, “The old is good!” Luke 5:33-39.   Pope Francis:     Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. It is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. LS 223.  The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion.  Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things. LS77.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Do some study and share with one another about the positive and negative aspects of various plants in nature.  Pray the Glory be to the Father…………..  

September 3.  Relationship breakdown and sin.   One Saturday the family decided to camp out as they did from time to time, to experience nature more intimately.  They had put up their tent and as everyone was hungry they all helped to put together their simple meal. As they ate and shared they considered how the natural environment had changed over the years. Mom commented, “In creation and in daily life there must be a right order of doing things. God created everything and, from the beginning, gave to mankind the task of caring for creation. This does allow people the freedom to use but not exploit and abuse nature and the environment.”      

Scripture: The disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. Jesus said, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God and took and ate the showbread, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat. The Son of man is lord of the sabbath. From Luke 6:1-5.    Pope Francis:   Human life is grounded in three fundamental relationships, with God, with our neighbour and with the earth.  According to the Bible these vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. Today sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse and abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.  LS66. For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation and to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands, contaminate and pollute these, are sins against the natural world, against ourselves and against God. LS8.   

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Do an examination of conscience and share.How have I degraded my own immediate environment? What can I do to fix it?   Pray for forgiveness and make a promise to correct what is needed.    

September 4.  Wisdom. Sunday 23 C. On Sunday as they were looking out over a vast landscape from the mountain pass where they had camped and planned to spend the day, after Mass at a small mission, Pauline shared, “Giving due honour to God means that we do recognise the Sabbath, as God’s day of rest.”  “But within reason,” Michael added, “Some people do have to work around here.  That can even be taking up one’s cross.” “For some not having work can also be a cross. Let’s be grateful even for the little we have on this special day. “ Together they thanked God before relaxing after doing their chores.

Scripture: Whoever of you does not bear his own cross and renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-33.   Pope Francis: On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Like the Jewish Sabbath, it is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and the world. Sunday is the Day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation. Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary but this does away with the most important thing about work, its meaning i.e. receptivity and gratuity.  LS237

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Check out your attitudes about work and observing Sunday as a day of rest.  Are we taking sufficient note of God’s intentions in instituting the sabbath?   Pray the Glory be …….  

September 5.  Religion and fraternity. “Have you heard of Jews for Jesus?”  Michael asked.  “Doesn’t that do away with their Jewishness?”  came the response. “I don’t know any Jewish families personally but I believe that one of their characteristics is a pretty strict observance of the laws.” “But that is also what Jesus criticised them for.”  So they discussed differences between religions and some of the traditions. “I have always admired how so many Jewish families still honour the Sabbath by gathering together for their Sabbath meal.  In a sense that has been a saving grace for their life as a people, through some very dark periods of persecution in their history, don’t you think?  Mom said, “speaking of dark days Mother Teresa, whose feastday it is today, spent almost her whole life caring for the poor, sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, giving them their dignity, irrespective of what their religion was.”  

Scripture:    It happened that on a Sabbath, when Jesus entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. Jesus said to the scribes and the Pharisees. Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” Luke 6:6, 9.  Pope Francis:   The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers.  This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor and building networks of respect and fraternity.   LS 201.

ECOTIP AND PRAYER:  Check out how Mother Teresa lived her mission, listening to the voice of creation, to the “cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.” Pray Glory be to the Father……………

September 6.   The Covid pandemic has led the whole world to a deeper reflection on matters of health and wellbeing.  The most effective approaches towards this new health risk, the safety and efficacy of vaccines include the importance of effective leadership with its many medical and psychological concerns. “How are leaders chosen these days?” This was a serious question for all communities, parish groups and families to discuss.  Who chooses, how and why?  If one looks around the world and the different countries and even organisations, do people lobby for support, bribe or give out food parcels to buy votes?  Do we vote as a reaction against something or for someone who we believe will serve the common good?  We like to describe such people as “servant leaders.”

Scripture:    All night long Jesus continued in prayer to God.  And when it was day he called his disciples and chose from them twelve whom he named apostles. Luke 6:12-19.   Pope Francis:  We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations.  LS53.  There are too many special interests that easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that the person’s own plans will not be affected.   LS 54

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Get involved in a “leadership debate” on social media. Discuss servant leadership and pray for leaders with integrity in all spheres of life.  Pray Glory be…………………..

September 7.  Dad spoke seriously to them all. “I’m sure you’ve seen all kinds of houses, huts and farms already.  We’ve never been rich but like most people we know I would consider us middle class.  We do have enough to live off, if we don’t waste money or spend extravagantly.  The fact that we do share our resources as Pope Francis asks with others is important for me. Oh, and by the way no new cellphones for you kids this year.”  It was quite hard for the younger ones to understand why Pope Francis so often condemns the rich.  Dad explained that in the gospel of today Jesus did the same.  “It is not that being rich is so wrong but that in one way it takes away from the poor, especially if the rich do not share their wealth. We should all share more equally.”  

Scripture:    Woe to you that are rich for you have receive your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. From Luke 6:20-26.  Pope Francis: We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. LS 49. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment.  To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little.  LS 222

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Discuss, how good are we at budgeting and money management?  Each person can have their own values on the subject.   Pray, Glory be to the Father……………………

September 8.  Mary birthday.  September 8th   Birthday of Our Lady.  Pauline had always made a fuss of Our Lady’s birthday. She liked to make cards or put a flower at her statue and sing “happy birthday” and a hymn.  While they were on their travels she had become more conscious of the poor and especially of beggars. She wondered, “Father Peter tells us to see Jesus in other people.  Would giving something to a beggar be like giving a birthday present to  Mary?”  

Scripture: As for me I trust in your merciful love.  Let my heart rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me.  Ps 13. Pope Francis:   She is the Mother and Queen of all creation.  She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart and now understands the meaning of all things. We can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.  LS241.     

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Eco-spirituality links religion into eco-awareness. Pray and reflect on the prayer of Our Lady herself, the Magnificat  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.  ….

September 9.  The family’s next stop on their eco-safari was a game reserve.   They all enjoyed the talk about wildlife and were shocked to hear that rhino poaching happens everywhere, even in parks where there is security.  Each year hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns and elephants for their tusks , while small animals like pangolins are trafficked too for their scales and for meat.  Afterwards they debated, “Some of us want to get involved in combating rhino poaching or other conservation projects.  Some think we people are more important than animals. Others not.  In some cases people will spend a lot of money on saving rhinos while they are OK about killing unborn babies. It’s about money, but what about the greater value of human life?” 

Scripture. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself in which she sets her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts. Ps 84.  Pope Francis:  At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure. Certainly, we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly.  LS90.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Find out about a “good citizen” ecological programme you would like to join.  Pray for greater respect for and commitment to the laws of the country and of God.  Pray the Glory be to the Father.

September 10.  Skills building is a common activity in secular life but possibly not taken seriously enough in our spiritual and relational lives.  What skills are needed for a successful marriage and happy family?   Communication in marriage is particularly necessary. Listening and talking, sharing feelings, decision-making as a personal and mutual practical skill, but also deciding to trust, to love, to be responsive and other-centred. Like every other living family unit in nature, the human family too is called upon to develop and grow, as it has to deal with all the current issues such as environmental awareness and climate change.    

Scripture: Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation upon rock and when a flood arose the stream broke against that house and could not shake it. He who does not do this is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.   Luke 6:43-49.    Pope Francis: Trained lay leaders and professionals, especially those with practical experience, help keep pastoral initiatives grounded in the real situations and concrete concerns of families. LS41   Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and analysing modifications of the environment.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Conduct a “carbon footprint” exercise together to discover how we rate on our care for the earth (google for examples) and make adjustments in lifestyle where needed. Pray for commitment to change. End with Glory be to the Father……….

September 11th Sunday 24C.  When the family were sharing after Sunday Mass Pauline wondered, “What was behind the prodigal son’s wish to take his inheritance and leave home?  His brother, his father?   Didn’t he have enough freedom, or was he like one of the young people Pope Francis talks about who are dissatisfied with life and whatever things they have also including access to social media.  

Scripture. “Father, give my share of property that falls to me.” He took a journey into a far country and there he squandered his property in loose living.  Read Luke 15:1-32.  Pope Francis:  Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise. LS 47.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Consider the reality of young people struggling with depression, a sense of dissatisfaction with their lives and even contemplating suicide. Can you reach out to anyone in need?   Pray Glory be to the Father.

September 12. After they had stopped for a meal and taken their left-overs for later Michael said, “Do you ever feel guilty when after a nice meal out you drive home and see poor beggars along the road? It’s all very well to say they should go to a shelter, but there they don’t get burgers and steaks.” “There have always been beggars and those who are poor.”  “But the apostle Paul also complained about it in the early days of the church when at the breaking of the bread, the rich would eat their food and leave the rest of the community to go hungry. That wasn’t right.”  So the others agreed and suggested, “Let us give our take-outs to the poor beggars we meet along the road.”      

Scripture: Paul wrote, “I do not commend you, for when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For in eating each one goes ahead with his own meal and one is hungry and another is drunk.” From 1 Cor.11-17.  Pope Francis:   It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. LS 49. ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family consider how you can become more conscious of sharing your resources with the poor, like having a family fast day and donating the money saved. Pray “Glory be to the Father……………..

September 13. The refugee problem in Europe is often shown in the news.  Thousands of people are escaping war in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and other places in Africa and Asia.  As the family travelled through the countryside on their eco-safari they became more aware how here in South Africa we have our own refugees too. Some are economic, others fleeing from war in other African countries.  “I thought Pope Francis gave a great example a while back by taking some Muslim refugees home with him to the Vatican, “Pauline said and Michael responded, “Yes, but the reason that they fled needs to be addressed most urgently. Pope Francis often speaks about the whole migrant issue.” Dad added, ”However the practical aspect of providing work for foreign and local workers makes this very complicated for the country too.”   

Scripture:  Just as the body is one and has many members and all the members are one body so it is with Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, Jews, Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one spirit. From 1 Cor 12.  Pope Francis:  When our hearts are authentically open to universal communion the sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. Everything is related and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures.  LS 92

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family discuss your attitudes around foreign workers and how the issue could be addressed with justice and compassion. Pray “Glory be to the Father……………..

September 14. Triumph of the Cross.  Everybody has got his one favourite “love is……’ saying.  Melody asked them all to sit together and share their own.  Eventually they came to the conclusion that maybe our concept of love can be too sentimental.  Reflecting too on this feast of the Triumph of the Cross the pains and joys of love made their thoughts more comprehensive and real.  “We learned a lot about love and care and responsibility too during the covid-19 pandemic.” Pauline reflected.  “It also makes me think of the poor little scaly pangolins that somehow got blamed for causing the start of the pandemic. They are the most trafficked of all the animals on earth, even here in South Africa they are captured and sold. Surely they need love and protection as much as the poor and all the human family.”

Scripture: If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burnt but have not love I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Cor 13. Pope Francis: As part of the universe called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family. God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. LS89 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  On social media start an ecological renewal campaign with the slogan “Love is ……………………     Pray for an increase in love as the basis for change. Pray, Glory be to the Father. 

September 15. Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Homelessness.  At one town where they stopped for the night they sat down for a meal and as usual started with grace. The woman who served them had been watching and they soon all started up a conversation. She, Agnes was a single mother, abandoned by her husband who had brought her from Nigeria and then had more or less made her into a slave for himself and his new South Africa wife.  He lorded it over everyone and was harsh too with the children.  After some time Agnes had left with her two small daughters and was lucky to have got this job to put a roof over their heads. She shared that her favourite spiritual image was Mary, Mother of Sorrows.  As they listened and considered her story they also thought of the reality of all migrants who often experience, homelessness and xenophobia.

Scripture. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against, and a sword will pierce through your own soul too, that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.  Luke 2:33-35.  Pope Francis:  Mary, the mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for the wounded world.  She now grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and creatures of this world laid waste by human power.  LS241

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Check on homelessness in your area. Provide food or join a soup kitchen or other community project. Pray Glory be to the Father..   

September 16.  On their eco-safari the family had spent a couple of weeks travelling and sleeping in many different places.  Sometimes it had been more or less rough than at other times. One night they shared where they had felt most close to God.  Michael had loved any place where they could see animals, Mom was at peace with the quietness of birdlife.  Pauline had to admit that city life did have an appeal for her. “I can’t say though that I feel close to God there.  That was more in nature too.”  Little Melody was happy that they had been able to visit the UShaka theme park but also said she liked to pray at home, saying her special little morning prayer. They decided to spend time reflecting on the value of their interdependence.     

Scripture: When I awake I shall be filled with the vision of your presence, O Lord. Psalm 17:15.  Pope Francis: When we can see God reflected in all that exists our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them as St Francis did. LS 87. A Christian lifestyle, witnessed to by families, is in itself a form of evangelization and the foundation of remote marriage preparation. It is in the family, the domestic church, that Christian parents are the first witnesses and educators of the children both in the growth of “faith, hope and charity”, and in each child discovering his or her own vocation. PCF Prep 28. 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family make a commitment to pray St Francis hymn of praise of creation regularly, ideally out in nature. (google and download) “ Praised be you my Lord with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun, through whom you give us light  sister moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful, brother fire through whom you light the night and sister water who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste……………  Reflect and share.   

September 17.  As they drove along Dad couldn’t help wondering, “Why is it that family members can turn out so differently?  They come from the same background, have different genes I suppose, or is there something in the environment that affects them. Maybe they had a bad friend, or someone abused them, or maybe they were always loved or maybe spoiled.”  That night they read the parable of the sower and how the same seed was sown but grew up differently.  “Is that true for us too?” Dad asked. “What kind of soil are we preparing?” Mom thought.  

Scripture. “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some feel along the path and was trodden under foot and the birds of the air devoured it. Some ………   Read Luke 8:4-15. Pope Francis:  It is important that people experience the gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives because in Christ we have been set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.  As in the parable of the sower we are called to help sow seeds, the rest is God’s work.  The Church wishes with humility and compassion to reach out to families and to help each family to discover the best way to overcome any obstacles it encounters.  AL 200

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Join a food gardening programmes, grow your own vegetables and compost food waste. Take action to build healthy soil.  Pray and thank God for daily food.  Pray, Glory be to the Father ………………

September 18. Sunday 25c.  On their eco-safari they were not able to go to Mass every Sunday but shared on the readings of the day.  “I think that the story of the dishonest steward changing the invoices of the money owed to their master is a real and serious case of corruption.  Were people like that already in those days?” Pauline asked.  Michael responded, “Well wickedness has been around since the time of Adam, don’t you know!”  In the Bible stories God also punished people through nature, e.g. the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah. Whether those are true accounts is another matter but the point is that such stories illustrate how God’s justice overcomes evil.  You can’t continue to get away with corruption. We hope that the government too will be after you.”  

Scripture: No servant can serve two masters.  You cannot serve God and mammon. Read Luke 16:1-13.   Pope Francis:   We lack the culture needed to confront the crisis of global warming, water scarcity and more.  We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations.  LS53.   We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld the laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided. LS123. 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Witness to and lobby for Christian eco-values and social justice in the workplace or wherever one’s environment allows.  Pray for honesty and integrity in political leaders as they decide on the necessary action to combat climate change effects.  Pray Glory be to the Father……..

September 19. “Why do people keep some of their traditions and cultures a secret?”   This was something the family had noted on their travels.  They had been welcomed in many places but seldom really got to know people’s real life traditions. They listed some reasons. It has to do with privacy, with fear, embarrassment, with not wanting to be challenged, with maintaining a sense of belonging to a particular interest group, and also to superstition or even a lack of interest.  “You know I wonder if there was much more secrecy around in former times than now.  On one side everyone seems to know everything about everybody but at the same time we often keep things that worry us to ourselves.“  

Scripture: Jesus said “no one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand that those who enter may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Luke 8:16-17.  Pope Francis:   Regrettably many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. LS 14    Dialogue and cooperation need to be fostered with societal structures and encouragement given to lay people who are involved as Christians in the cultural and socio-political fields.   AL 201      ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Start or get involved in an interracial peace-building campaign on social media centred on couples and families.  Pray together for racial harmony in homes and families.  Pray  Glory be to the Father……

September 20.  For many Westerners the complexities of African extended family ties and the roles they play are a real mystery.  Why does an uncle get involved in wedding arrangements or why is a cousin called a sister or brother? Why does the firstborn remain responsible for the extended family?   A nuclear family is the image many people have nowadays of what a family is. But that is not even historically correct anywhere.  Family life and relationships have changed and are still changing in society, and marriage. The Church is challenged by these changes too.  Pope Francis’ THE JOY OF LOVE, (AL) makes many references to different types of family structures. Apart from marriage, cohabiting, single-parent, same-sex unions and child-headed units exist as well as remarried and divorced families. All are still part of the Church and live God’s plan possibly in imperfect situations as best they can. The image of Church as Family of God also implies a different kind of belonging where there is no relationship of blood or marriage. And going beyond the human family the ideal of the World as a Family of Families is something we have yet to get used to.    

Scripture: Jesus was told, your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you. But he said to them, my mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.  Luke 8:19-21.   Pope Francis:  AL

Everything is interconnected. Just as the different aspects of the planet -physical, chemical and biological are interrelated so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand.   LS 138

In addition to the small circle of the couple and their children there is the larger family.   The love between husband and wife and in a derivative and broader way the love between members of the same (extended) family is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism and is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family. JPII in AL 196

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:   Decide and discuss integral ecology and show to become an eco-friendly, family-friendly society.  Pray for a lasting eco-friendly focus in all families.   Pray Glory be to the Father…….

September 21.  As the family drove along they commented “You know I find this time out together is a kind of inner healing process. We’re in nature most of the time, mountains, miles of veld, sea but also what they call ’urban sprawl.’” Pauline’s statement got them thinking. “Is just being a healing experience and do we heal one another’s hurts?” Michael asked. “I’ve got a hurt, I scraped my knee when we were climbing that koppie the other day.  Can someone please heal that,” Melody asked. “I’ll look in the medicine box,” Mom said. But Melody answered, “No thanks, Jesus sent the apostles without any medicine. Maybe he can do mine too.”  

Scripture: Jesus gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases and he sent them out to preach the Kingdom. “Take nothing with you,” he told them.”  Luke 9:1-6.  Pope Francis: Patriarch Bartholomew asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, learning to give and not simply to give up.  It is a way of loving and moving away from what I want to what God’s world needs.  LS9. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world.   LS237

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Healing the damage to the world demands changes in behaviour. Discuss, adopt and promote Reuse-Reduce-Recycle as part of a prayer campaign. Pray, Glory be to the Father…………………

September 22. A sense of calm, peacefulness and acceptance had settled over the family during this time as they had watched sunrises and sunsets, experienced some wonderful weather but also some storms.   “Is it not like that in life generally?”  “There is a daily routine and differences in our ages do exist and are real but do not always have to be a cause for conflict or division.  That is something I learned from this time of being and sharing together.” “It was also nice to have grandma with us for a few days. I loved the story she told us.  “When the Pilanesberg nature reserve near Rustenburg was being established up to 6000 animals were imported from many different parks and wild life centres. Among them were a group of teenage elephant bulls that had been orphaned through culling in the Kruger Park.  After a while it was found that these elephants were unruly and aggressive and were attacking other animals, even rhinos. Some cars were damaged and some humans had been killed.  At first park officials were at a loss to explain this but it was eventually established that there was no proper male adult supervision for these teenagers. Animal behaviour specialists suggested that the maturing sexual development of these young males had been affected by conditions in their environment.  There were older females in the new park but they were rejecting the young bulls. The solution that was finally found was the introduction of a number of mature adult males who were able to enforce some discipline and control over the young bulls.”     

Scripture: The sun rises and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises.  The wind blows to the south and goes round to the north, round and round goes the wind.   Ecclesiastes 1:3-5   Pope Francis: The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.  LS 159.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Discuss the importance of intergenerational relationships. Connect with a new older or young person. Discover their needs and offer help.  Pray   Glory be to the Father……  

September 23.   The relaxed atmosphere of their eco-safari had given the family a different view of life. “Today people rush into everything, want the latest gadgets. You know it seems that people used to be much more patient than today.” “But still there are times when action is important.  When we challenge governments and big corporations about crime and climate change and pollution they’re very slow to act.  Should I ask, “Is there the right time or is there still time before it is too late?“    “This trip has given me hope for the future, conscious that there are no simple answers but that there is a time for everything as the Bible says.”

 Scripture. For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die

A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted

At time to kill and a time to heal

A time to break down and a time to build up

A time to weep and a time to laugh

A time to mourn and a time to dance

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing

A time to seek and a time to lose

A time to keep and a time to cast away

A time to mend and a time to sew

A time to keep silence and a time to speak

A time to love and a time to hate

A time for war and a time for peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Pope Francis: We should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, as we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. LS90. The Earth charter asked us to leave behind a period of self-destruction and make a new start. Common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning.  Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life.   LS207.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Take time to reflect on wastefulness and on doing and having what is unnecessary. Have a clean-out and donate unused items to charity for love of the poor. Pray for acceptance and responsibility for responding to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Pray  Glory be to the Father……

September 24. Heritage day.   On Heritage Day the teenagers suggested they really needed to celebrate National Braai Day. “Why?”  “Because a braai is a good South African institution that we all enjoy.”  So when they came to a small town where at the sport stadium they saw a soccer competition being advertised.  Nearby was an outdoor eatery advertising “Buy and Braai.” That idea was new to them, but they joined in and enjoyed themselves until Michael noticed that a lot of young kids hanging around the soccer field looked really poor and hungry.  Had they had something to eat?  Could this be the right way to celebrate Heritage Day? He asked the others and they decided to buy and braai some more for the youngsters standing around.   

Scripture: At that time while they were marvelling at everything Jesus did, he said to his disciples. “Let these words sink into your ears, for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.”  But they did not understand. Luke 9:43-45  Pope Francis: Respect for our dignity as human beings often jars with the chaotic realities that people have to endure in city life. Yet this should not make us overlook the abandonment and neglect also experienced by some rural populations which lack access to essential services and where some workers are reduced to conditions of servitude, without rights or even the hope of a more dignified life. LS154

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  What contribution can you make to improving service delivery issues in your own and other communities? Pray Glory be…….

September 25.  26th Sunday C.   The way Fr Timothy presented the theme for the Mass of the day challenged them all after their Heritage Day experience.   “Why is it so difficult to accept that the difference between rich and poor is a problem? But what kind of problem is it?  Surely the poor don’t want to stay poor, they want to become rich. Is that not why they demonstrate and even riot and their deep frustration makes them show little respect for public property.  But will they ever get rich like that?  The rich also don’t want to become poor.  Why should they?  Are there not enough resources to go round, or how can we all contribute to create more?”  “The world cannot sustain more of the excessive consumption, carbon emissions and pollution. What is needed is for us all to moderate our consumption to what is sustainable.  What education towards an ecological conversion is required for everyone?”   

Scripture: Jesus said, “there was a rich man clothed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day.  At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus full of sores who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Luke16: 19-31.  Pope Francis:   When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. LS204 Yet all is not lost.  Human beings while capable of the worst are also capable of rising above themselves.  LS205  In countries which should be making the greatest changes in consumer habits, young people have a new ecological sensitivity and some are making admirable efforts to protect the environment. At the same time they have grown up in a milieu of extreme consumerism and affluence which makes it difficult to develop other habits.  We are faced with an educational challenge.  LS 209

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Study and discover ways to adopt theLaudato si Action Platform goal of simple and sustainable living. Examine your consumer habits and decide to improve where you can, saving water, electricity, paper, time, money.   Pray Glory  be to the Father.           

September 26th.   The older kids were asked to read the story of Job and so pass it on to the rest of the family.  Michael explained, “It is a teaching story of Job, who was rich and had many children but God allowed Satan, the tempter, to test him.  The test was, “Would he still believe in God’s goodness if all his possessions were taken away?”   He lost everything and his friends kept pestering him to blame God. He was almost at a point of cursing God but some faith remained in him.”  “I wonder if something like that happened to me how would I react? “  “It makes me think of unemployment. Some youth have never worked but I know a number of men who were retrenched.  That is one of the most difficult things because as bread-winner he loses his ability to provide, along with his dignity and the respect of his kids. Does he blame God?”   “It depends……..  “  

Scripture. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.  Job 1:6-22.  Pope Francis:   Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.   LS 43.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Engage incross-cultural and cross-generational dialogue to gain better understanding about a throw-away culture. Together pray   Glory be to the Father…………..

September 27.  The family were welcomed in one small town by a faith-sharing group some of whom they had come to know.  A number of the participants had been affected by recent floods, followed by looting and rioting and in some cases family violence.  It seemed as if these misfortunes piled on top of each other had an overall negative influence on their community.  As outsiders Dad and Mom at first felt uncomfortable, but they sat quietly and listened carefully as they had been taught in their recent synodal training session.  The participants in the group  were able to pour out some of their griefs and anxieties without fear of not being accepted or being judged.  They shared about loss of family members, homes and possessions they had experienced.  At the end of the sharing they held a healing and commemoration prayer service, praying for consolation and for an end to violence and brokenness in their own family and community and for other families in the world.     .     

Scripture:  Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.  And Job said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born. Job 3:1. Pope Francis: There is the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical  abilities. LS113.  We have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach. It must integrate questions of justice in debates so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.   LS49.   

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Talk about trust or conduct a trust-building activity in a social setting. Pray for an increase of trust in God’s goodness and that of others. Pray  Glory be……………

September 28. As the family was coming near to the end of their eco-safari they shared.  “We have travelled far and wide and seen and experienced many new things.  Through seeing goodness and beauty but also simplicity and poverty I have become much more aware of the greatness of God, “ Pauline said.  Mom replied, “That is partly why we thought of this idea of going on this safari.  And it wasn’t just to see, but also to discuss and share  and grow in our family communication.”  Dad added. “I suppose all of those did work, do you agree? I am enjoying the story of Job where he argues with his friends, and even tries to argue with God, but recognises God is greater than he could possibly imagine. I think that fits in well with what we were doing.” All the children agreed they’d had a great time.  

Scripture:  Job said, Who will say to God, “What are you doing?  How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?  Though I am innocent I cannot answer him. I must appeal for mercy to my accuser (Satan).” From Job 9:1-16    Pope Francis:  In union with all creatures we journey through this land seeking God, for if the world has a beginning and if it has been created we must enquire who gave it this beginning and who was its creator.  LS244. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see because they have been lost for ever mainly for reasons related to human activity.   Because of us they will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us.   We have no such right.  LS33

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Creation is God’s message to us. We can use our senses to experience the beautiful and the good, the ugly and the bad.  Pray with an awareness of the senses to hear God’s call to conversion.   Glory be ……

September 29. St Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, archangels.  There is a lot of interest in angels in popular culture nowadays. Fr James explained. “Angels and spirits are mentioned in various places in the Bible.  Angels are creatures of God and they are given different tasks by God. They are also honoured in different cultures in different ways, while the whole spirit world is dealt with differently too. One popular Catholic devotion, from the book of Revelation, is the prayer to St Michael the archangel as defender against the devil and his lies and evil plans.  Other archangels, mentioned by name are Gabriel, God’s messenger bringing good news, and Raphael, the healer in the book of Tobit, which is found in Catholic bibles.    “I have always been interested in angels and think that all the angels have something to contribute to our family life.” Mom said, “We did pray to St Michael and St Raphael when we were having a difficult time. We prayed for deliverance from evil and for healing. And I do believe that they helped us. “    

Scripture: Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”  John 1:51. O God, who dispose in marvellous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven.  Opening prayer of the Mass.  Pope Francis. We are journeying towards the Sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven.  LS 243    

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Godspeaks to us through his messengers who take different forms.  The beauty of nature, animals, plants and flowers speak of God. Angels can teach us how to give glory to God as they did at Jesus’ birth. Join with them in praying Glory be to the Father .

September 30. Looking back over their travels especially through nature they agreed that the dialogue between God and Job was a wonderful thought on which to come to the end of their safari. “I think I need to read the whole story –  as soon as I can make the time! “ Pauline laughed. Michael simply said, “I believe I have become much closer to God through discovering so much about creation like birds, bees and butterflies and making God a more active part of my daily life though that. “

Scripture. The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it.  Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have the gates of death been revealed too you, or have you see the gates of deep darkness?  Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth.  Declare if you know all this.” Job answered the Lord, “Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you?”  From Job 38:12-21, 40:3-5.  Pope Francis:  The universe unfolds in God who fills it completely. The ideal is not only to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. LS 233 Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.  LS83

 ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  What aspect of nature can you build into your life?  Read up on eco-family plants like the indigenous spekboom which is drought resistant and has health benefits too or learn about the many uses of a lemon.   Pray for openness to change. Glory be to the Father……  

October 1. St Therese, the little Flower, a model of Creation Spirituality.   Because of her poor health Therese grew up as a pampered girl in a very religious family.  She felt called to become a nun but her family thought she was not Gtrong enough.  However her love of God made her persist and she entered the Carmelite convent as a very young girl of 15. Her ill-health prevented her from being out in the mission field but she kept her love for the missions. She aimed at perfection through what she called “the little things,” and prayer and meditation.  She saw these little sacrifices of ordinary events as flowers and this simple spirituality earned her the name “Little Flower.”  Four of her sisters also entered the convent and her parents Louis and Zelie Martin have been canonised, as being a truly holy couple.  Therese wrote in her journal, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?  Great deeds are forbidden me.  The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and they are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love. I do them like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say and He always understands me.”  www.catholic.org/saints.   

Pope Francis:  St Therese invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.   An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. LS 230

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a couple or family share your favourite most beautiful flower and, when possible, plant it or another flowering plant to preserve it and be reminded to thank God for beauty in creation. Pray Glory be to the Father……..

October 2. Sunday 27C. At one place they stopped by a massive field of sunflowers that had just come into bloom.  Mom picked one and started pulling off the petals one by one as she used to do as a girl. Instead of saying, “he loves me, he loves me not,” she said, “good news, bad news, good news, bad news.” Then she said, “if I was talking about faith where would it end, good news or bad news?” “Good news,” came the response. “Well, we’ve been taught that the gospel is Good News. But listen to the stories in the Bible and hear how many are about a struggle in society, a struggle between good and evil one could say.  Certainly each of the prophets was constantly preaching that the good news is God’s constant care in an ongoing battle against the bad news of wars and violence, sin and destruction.  The prophets were the righteous men and women of the day. Who are our righteous ones to work together ?   

Scripture:  Write the vision down, to be easily read.  See how he tires, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:2-4.  Pope Francis: A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions of individual countries.  Such a consensus could lead to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting sources of energy and encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting better management of marine and forest resources and ensuring universal access to drinking water. LS 164.  

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Select one of these areas of biodiversity and sustainability to research and promote. For  example the addressing the decreasing number of insects, butterflies, bees or bird species that impact on environmental health and wellbeing. Pray  Glory be to the Father…………….

October 3. Dad asked,  “Now that we have spent these weeks on our eco-safari and read the story of the Good Samaritan how can we each relate to it in our lives today.”  Each one thought for a while.  Pauline said, “I have been touched by the plight of the poor and homeless. I can go through my cupboard and sort out some clothes to share with the homeless families. We could go with the St Vincent de Paul to visit a shelter.” Michael thought about the man who had been attacked and shared how he wanted to help the injured. Melody wanted to look after injured animals as she had seen on their journey.  Each family member shared their own intention.   

Scripture:   A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell among robbers who stripped him and beat him and departed leaving him half dead.  Read Luke 10:25-37. Pope Francis: we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world and that being good and decent are worth it.  We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty.   LS229

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Make the Good Samaritan account a story of your life.  How can you each at your own level help those who are physically and emotionally poor and hurt by the events in their lives?    Pray Glory be…

October 4. St Francis. After they returned Michael shared with his fellow confirmation candidates. “Just like there are many Theresa’s there are also many Francises in families. Quite often children choose these as their confirmation patrons and to be their role models. We like what happened to St Francis. Jesus appeared to him and said, ‘go and rebuild my church.’ So he first thought he had to go and rebuild a broken down old building but what Jesus really meant was to go and build up the people, including himself, to love Jesus, the poor and all of creation. Although his life was not easy he was filled with the joy of love.  We have discovered that our family is trying to follow this way, as we follow our parents who really are witnesses to us and in the world.  Like St Francis we are working to be carers for OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.” 

Scripture. Come to me all who labour and are heavy ladren and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  Matt 11: 28-29 Pope Francis:  Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically.  He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast.  He loved and was deeply loved for his joy.  He lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, others, nature and himself. LS 10. The divine Persons, the Trinity, are subsistent relations, and the created world is a web of relationships. The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures.  LS240

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:   As a family adopt St Francis as a role model and regularly read, sing and pray with joy the Canticle of Creation of St Francis or the Peace Prayer of St Francis (Make me an instrument of your peace.)  

St Francis Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,

through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,

and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,  and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Peace Prayer of St Francis  

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
 

O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.   Amen.

2022 OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES  

MARFAM DAILY THOUGHTS  WITH  THE SEASON OF CREATION  1 SEPTEMBER TO 4 OCTOBER.

FAMILY YEAR PLANNER SEPTEMBER THEME “OUR WORLD OF FAMILIES” and OCTOBER THEME “FAMILY ON MISSION.”          

DAILY THOUGHTS are available on www.marfam.org.za, facebook and twitter. Request for email to info@marfam.org.za.  

INTRODUCTION. SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER.  The awareness of creation and our responsibility for the CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME is outlined by Pope Francis outlines in his encyclical LAUDATO SI. The MARFAM theme OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES is a helpful insight into understanding the wonder of the whole human family as well as the family forms found in nature.  Every single family of any kind, from the different forms of human families, to the ancient colossuses of trees in our forests, and the tiniest of creatures in the sea, has a role to play in co-operation in creation through reproduction and sustaining our world as a family of families. 

Letter  Description automatically generated with low confidenceWe, the human family, uniquely have the power to deliberately choose our mission and we cannot afford selfish greed, or hurtful violence, but are called to adopt God’s mission of love of all the creatures. As a massive mission it demands commitment and all our resources, but it has the potential for healing the harm we have done to our world. St Francis, the patron saint of ecology can be our inspiration on our mission.  The human family, in its various forms, with different religions, political ideologies and experiences of wealth and poverty is 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 this the world we wish to leave to future generations?  

The ecumenical Season of Creation begins on 1 September with World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and ends on 4 October the feastday of St Francis. Supported by many churches including the Catholic Church it offers a range of resources and celebrations e.g. Blessing of Pets around feast of St Francis. Our common prayer and action can help us listen for the voices of those who are silenced. In prayer we lament the individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems who are lost, and those whose livelihoods are threatened by habitat loss and climate change. By action we listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.  

Pope Francis message for the World Day of Prayer. If we learn to listen we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other an anguished plea lamenting our mistreatment of our common home. During this Season of Creation let us pray that the upcoming conferences COP 27 on climate change and COP 15 on biodiversity can serve to unite the human family in effectively confronting the double crisis of climate change and the reduction or biodiversity. It is our sister mother earth who cries out in a call to us to repentance and ecological conversion.  Ecological education can take place at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere. Good education plants seeds when we are young, that continue to bear fruit throughout life.  LS213.

DOWNLOAD RESOURCES:

  • The Season of Creation Celebration Guide is a comprehensive overview with references and can be downloaded and studied.  https://www.laudatosi.org/ecumenical/season-of-creation/season-of-creation-2022/ 
  • Google SEASON OF CREATION 2022 for many materials from different sources including the SACBC.
  • Check out Season of Creation and Laudato Si’ Movement social media posts on facebook, twitter, Instagram and register for regular emails.  
  • Sign the healthy planet healthy people petition. At  https://healthyplanetandpeople.org/
  • As this is an ecumenical project approach other Christian churches to share resources and activities.

Setting the scene for the MARFAM DAILY THOUGHTS. A 4 step SEE-JUDGE-ACT format is used. 1. A look at life – Parish Justice and Peace and Family Ministry team family activity, an eco-safari. 2. Scripture from readings of the day. 3. Pope Francis writings, particularly Laudato Si’. 4. Daily Eco-tip and prayer. Suggested family prayer for the season is   Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.    

Abbreviations:  Pope Francis: LS = Laudato Si. AL = Amoris Laetitia  FT = Fratelli Tutti.  EG = Evangelii Gaudium   

PRAYERS FOR THE SEASON OF CREATION

St Francis Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,

through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,

and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,  and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Peace Prayer of St Francis  

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
 

O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.   Amen.

A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH  from Laudato Si 246

All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.  

You embrace with tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

Help us to rescue and abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives that we may protect the world and not prey upon it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. 

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us in our struggle for justice, love and peace.   Amen

MAGNIFICAT

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

September 1. WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR CREATION. SEASON OF CREATION 2022 THEME: LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF CREATION.   Bruce announced,  “Our family has decided to go a an eco-safari, exploring what we can about nature and our country. Like many families we are concerned about the state of the world, which is our home. Can you believe that there was a time when people believed that the world was flat, standing on pillars in the waters below with the sky a dome above?   It is amazing how different branches of science are showing us much more about our world, the whole universe, and our particular place in it.  The Bible gives us two different creation stories but what really matters is the message. God is the Creator and created everything out of love and for love.  Everything from the sun, the moon and the stars, to water, air and land and every creature, large and small has its place. Human beings hold a unique and special place in creation because we are made in God’s own image and likeness. As individuals but also as a couple together they mirror the relationship of love of the Trinity.   

Scripture. The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world, and all who dwell in it. It is he who set it on the seas; on the waters he made it firm.  PS 24. Pope Francis extract from the Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creationy:  It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home and an opportunity to cultivate our “ecological conversion”, If we learn how to listen, we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand, we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other, an anguished plea, lamenting our mistreatment of this our common home. The sweet song of creation invites us to practise an “ecological spirituality” (LS 216), attentive to God’s presence in the natural world and to base our spirituality on the “loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion” LS220. For the followers of Christ this reinforces our awareness that “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Jn 1:3) 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  This World Day of Prayer begins the Season of Creation. Check the media for any significant climate related events anywhere in the world, e.g. flood, drought, fire, hurricane, cold, heatwave, etc.  Offer a prayer in union with those affected.   End with Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen

September 2.  Plant ecosystems. On their eco-safari the family visited a vineyard, and after experiencing a wine-tasting they held a discussion about wine but also considered substance abuse.  “While we do love wine we often see alcohol as a problem.  In Jesus’ time it was already a common drink and obviously there was good and less mature wine.” Young Melody piped up, “Like we know from the story of the wedding feast at Cana!”  

Scripture:    No one puts new wine into old wineskins, if he does the new wine will burst skins and it will be spilled.   New wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  And no one after drinking old wine desires new: for he says, “The old is good!” Luke 5:33-39.   Pope Francis:     Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. It is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. LS 223.  The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion.  Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things. LS77.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Do some study and share with one another about the positive and negative aspects of various plants in nature.  Pray the Glory be to the Father…………..  

September 3.  Relationship breakdown and sin.   One Saturday the family decided to camp out as they did from time to time, to experience nature more intimately.  They had put up their tent and as everyone was hungry they all helped to put together their simple meal. As they ate and shared they considered how the natural environment had changed over the years. Mom commented, “In creation and in daily life there must be a right order of doing things. God created everything and, from the beginning, gave to mankind the task of caring for creation. This does allow people the freedom to use but not exploit and abuse nature and the environment.”      

Scripture: The disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. Jesus said, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry he and those who were with him, how he entered the house of God and took and ate the showbread, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat. The Son of man is lord of the sabbath. From Luke 6:1-5.    Pope Francis:   Human life is grounded in three fundamental relationships, with God, with our neighbour and with the earth.  According to the Bible these vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. Today sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse and abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.  LS66. For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation and to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands, contaminate and pollute these, are sins against the natural world, against ourselves and against God. LS8.   

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Do an examination of conscience and share.How have I degraded my own immediate environment? What can I do to fix it?   Pray for forgiveness and make a promise to correct what is needed.    

September 4.  Wisdom. Sunday 23 C. On Sunday as they were looking out over a vast landscape from the mountain pass where they had camped and planned to spend the day, after Mass at a small mission, Pauline shared, “Giving due honour to God means that we do recognise the Sabbath, as God’s day of rest.”  “But within reason,” Michael added, “Some people do have to work around here.  That can even be taking up one’s cross.” “For some not having work can also be a cross. Let’s be grateful even for the little we have on this special day. “ Together they thanked God before relaxing after doing their chores.

Scripture: Whoever of you does not bear his own cross and renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-33.   Pope Francis: On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Like the Jewish Sabbath, it is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and the world. Sunday is the Day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation. Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary but this does away with the most important thing about work, its meaning i.e. receptivity and gratuity.  LS237

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Check out your attitudes about work and observing Sunday as a day of rest.  Are we taking sufficient note of God’s intentions in instituting the sabbath?   Pray the Glory be …….  

September 5.  Religion and fraternity. “Have you heard of Jews for Jesus?”  Michael asked.  “Doesn’t that do away with their Jewishness?”  came the response. “I don’t know any Jewish families personally but I believe that one of their characteristics is a pretty strict observance of the laws.” “But that is also what Jesus criticised them for.”  So they discussed differences between religions and some of the traditions. “I have always admired how so many Jewish families still honour the Sabbath by gathering together for their Sabbath meal.  In a sense that has been a saving grace for their life as a people, through some very dark periods of persecution in their history, don’t you think?  Mom said, “speaking of dark days Mother Teresa, whose feastday it is today, spent almost her whole life caring for the poor, sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, giving them their dignity, irrespective of what their religion was.”  

Scripture:    It happened that on a Sabbath, when Jesus entered the synagogue and taught, a man was there whose right hand was withered. Jesus said to the scribes and the Pharisees. Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” Luke 6:6, 9.  Pope Francis:   The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers.  This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor and building networks of respect and fraternity.   LS 201.

ECOTIP AND PRAYER:  Check out how Mother Teresa lived her mission, listening to the voice of creation, to the “cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.” Pray Glory be to the Father……………

September 6.   The Covid pandemic has led the whole world to a deeper reflection on matters of health and wellbeing.  The most effective approaches towards this new health risk, the safety and efficacy of vaccines include the importance of effective leadership with its many medical and psychological concerns. “How are leaders chosen these days?” This was a serious question for all communities, parish groups and families to discuss.  Who chooses, how and why?  If one looks around the world and the different countries and even organisations, do people lobby for support, bribe or give out food parcels to buy votes?  Do we vote as a reaction against something or for someone who we believe will serve the common good?  We like to describe such people as “servant leaders.”

Scripture:    All night long Jesus continued in prayer to God.  And when it was day he called his disciples and chose from them twelve whom he named apostles. Luke 6:12-19.   Pope Francis:  We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations.  LS53.  There are too many special interests that easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that the person’s own plans will not be affected.   LS 54

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Get involved in a “leadership debate” on social media. Discuss servant leadership and pray for leaders with integrity in all spheres of life.  Pray Glory be…………………..

September 7.  Dad spoke seriously to them all. “I’m sure you’ve seen all kinds of houses, huts and farms already.  We’ve never been rich but like most people we know I would consider us middle class.  We do have enough to live off, if we don’t waste money or spend extravagantly.  The fact that we do share our resources as Pope Francis asks with others is important for me. Oh, and by the way no new cellphones for you kids this year.”  It was quite hard for the younger ones to understand why Pope Francis so often condemns the rich.  Dad explained that in the gospel of today Jesus did the same.  “It is not that being rich is so wrong but that in one way it takes away from the poor, especially if the rich do not share their wealth. We should all share more equally.”  

Scripture:    Woe to you that are rich for you have receive your consolation. Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. From Luke 6:20-26.  Pope Francis: We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. LS 49. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment.  To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little.  LS 222

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Discuss, how good are we at budgeting and money management?  Each person can have their own values on the subject.   Pray, Glory be to the Father……………………

September 8.  Mary birthday.  September 8th   Birthday of Our Lady.  Pauline had always made a fuss of Our Lady’s birthday. She liked to make cards or put a flower at her statue and sing “happy birthday” and a hymn.  While they were on their travels she had become more conscious of the poor and especially of beggars. She wondered, “Father Peter tells us to see Jesus in other people.  Would giving something to a beggar be like giving a birthday present to  Mary?”  

Scripture: As for me I trust in your merciful love.  Let my heart rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord who has been bountiful with me.  Ps 13. Pope Francis:   She is the Mother and Queen of all creation.  She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart and now understands the meaning of all things. We can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.  LS241.     

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Eco-spirituality links religion into eco-awareness. Pray and reflect on the prayer of Our Lady herself, the Magnificat  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.  ….

September 9.  The family’s next stop on their eco-safari was a game reserve.   They all enjoyed the talk about wildlife and were shocked to hear that rhino poaching happens everywhere, even in parks where there is security.  Each year hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns and elephants for their tusks , while small animals like pangolins are trafficked too for their scales and for meat.  Afterwards they debated, “Some of us want to get involved in combating rhino poaching or other conservation projects.  Some think we people are more important than animals. Others not.  In some cases people will spend a lot of money on saving rhinos while they are OK about killing unborn babies. It’s about money, but what about the greater value of human life?” 

Scripture. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself in which she sets her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts. Ps 84.  Pope Francis:  At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure. Certainly, we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly.  LS90.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Find out about a “good citizen” ecological programme you would like to join.  Pray for greater respect for and commitment to the laws of the country and of God.  Pray the Glory be to the Father.

September 10.  Skills building is a common activity in secular life but possibly not taken seriously enough in our spiritual and relational lives.  What skills are needed for a successful marriage and happy family?   Communication in marriage is particularly necessary. Listening and talking, sharing feelings, decision-making as a personal and mutual practical skill, but also deciding to trust, to love, to be responsive and other-centred. Like every other living family unit in nature, the human family too is called upon to develop and grow, as it has to deal with all the current issues such as environmental awareness and climate change.    

Scripture: Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation upon rock and when a flood arose the stream broke against that house and could not shake it. He who does not do this is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.   Luke 6:43-49.    Pope Francis: Trained lay leaders and professionals, especially those with practical experience, help keep pastoral initiatives grounded in the real situations and concrete concerns of families. LS41   Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and analysing modifications of the environment.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER: Conduct a “carbon footprint” exercise together to discover how we rate on our care for the earth (google for examples) and make adjustments in lifestyle where needed. Pray for commitment to change. End with Glory be to the Father……….

September 11th Sunday 24C.  When the family were sharing after Sunday Mass Pauline wondered, “What was behind the prodigal son’s wish to take his inheritance and leave home?  His brother, his father?   Didn’t he have enough freedom, or was he like one of the young people Pope Francis talks about who are dissatisfied with life and whatever things they have also including access to social media.  

Scripture. “Father, give my share of property that falls to me.” He took a journey into a far country and there he squandered his property in loose living.  Read Luke 15:1-32.  Pope Francis:  Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise. LS 47.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Consider the reality of young people struggling with depression, a sense of dissatisfaction with their lives and even contemplating suicide. Can you reach out to anyone in need?   Pray Glory be to the Father.

September 12. After they had stopped for a meal and taken their left-overs for later Michael said, “Do you ever feel guilty when after a nice meal out you drive home and see poor beggars along the road? It’s all very well to say they should go to a shelter, but there they don’t get burgers and steaks.” “There have always been beggars and those who are poor.”  “But the apostle Paul also complained about it in the early days of the church when at the breaking of the bread, the rich would eat their food and leave the rest of the community to go hungry. That wasn’t right.”  So the others agreed and suggested, “Let us give our take-outs to the poor beggars we meet along the road.”      

Scripture: Paul wrote, “I do not commend you, for when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For in eating each one goes ahead with his own meal and one is hungry and another is drunk.” From 1 Cor.11-17.  Pope Francis:   It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. LS 49. ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family consider how you can become more conscious of sharing your resources with the poor, like having a family fast day and donating the money saved. Pray “Glory be to the Father……………..

September 13. The refugee problem in Europe is often shown in the news.  Thousands of people are escaping war in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and other places in Africa and Asia.  As the family travelled through the countryside on their eco-safari they became more aware how here in South Africa we have our own refugees too. Some are economic, others fleeing from war in other African countries.  “I thought Pope Francis gave a great example a while back by taking some Muslim refugees home with him to the Vatican, “Pauline said and Michael responded, “Yes, but the reason that they fled needs to be addressed most urgently. Pope Francis often speaks about the whole migrant issue.” Dad added, ”However the practical aspect of providing work for foreign and local workers makes this very complicated for the country too.”   

Scripture:  Just as the body is one and has many members and all the members are one body so it is with Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body, Jews, Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one spirit. From 1 Cor 12.  Pope Francis:  When our hearts are authentically open to universal communion the sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. Everything is related and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures.  LS 92

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family discuss your attitudes around foreign workers and how the issue could be addressed with justice and compassion. Pray “Glory be to the Father……………..

September 14. Triumph of the Cross.  Everybody has got his one favourite “love is……’ saying.  Melody asked them all to sit together and share their own.  Eventually they came to the conclusion that maybe our concept of love can be too sentimental.  Reflecting too on this feast of the Triumph of the Cross the pains and joys of love made their thoughts more comprehensive and real.  “We learned a lot about love and care and responsibility too during the covid-19 pandemic.” Pauline reflected.  “It also makes me think of the poor little scaly pangolins that somehow got blamed for causing the start of the pandemic. They are the most trafficked of all the animals on earth, even here in South Africa they are captured and sold. Surely they need love and protection as much as the poor and all the human family.”

Scripture: If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burnt but have not love I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Cor 13. Pope Francis: As part of the universe called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family. God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. LS89 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  On social media start an ecological renewal campaign with the slogan “Love is ……………………     Pray for an increase in love as the basis for change. Pray, Glory be to the Father. 

September 15. Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Homelessness.  At one town where they stopped for the night they sat down for a meal and as usual started with grace. The woman who served them had been watching and they soon all started up a conversation. She, Agnes was a single mother, abandoned by her husband who had brought her from Nigeria and then had more or less made her into a slave for himself and his new South Africa wife.  He lorded it over everyone and was harsh too with the children.  After some time Agnes had left with her two small daughters and was lucky to have got this job to put a roof over their heads. She shared that her favourite spiritual image was Mary, Mother of Sorrows.  As they listened and considered her story they also thought of the reality of all migrants who often experience, homelessness and xenophobia.

Scripture. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that is spoken against, and a sword will pierce through your own soul too, that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.  Luke 2:33-35.  Pope Francis:  Mary, the mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for the wounded world.  She now grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and creatures of this world laid waste by human power.  LS241

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Check on homelessness in your area. Provide food or join a soup kitchen or other community project. Pray Glory be to the Father..   

September 16.  On their eco-safari the family had spent a couple of weeks travelling and sleeping in many different places.  Sometimes it had been more or less rough than at other times. One night they shared where they had felt most close to God.  Michael had loved any place where they could see animals, Mom was at peace with the quietness of birdlife.  Pauline had to admit that city life did have an appeal for her. “I can’t say though that I feel close to God there.  That was more in nature too.”  Little Melody was happy that they had been able to visit the UShaka theme park but also said she liked to pray at home, saying her special little morning prayer. They decided to spend time reflecting on the value of their interdependence.     

Scripture: When I awake I shall be filled with the vision of your presence, O Lord. Psalm 17:15.  Pope Francis: When we can see God reflected in all that exists our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them as St Francis did. LS 87. A Christian lifestyle, witnessed to by families, is in itself a form of evangelization and the foundation of remote marriage preparation. It is in the family, the domestic church, that Christian parents are the first witnesses and educators of the children both in the growth of “faith, hope and charity”, and in each child discovering his or her own vocation. PCF Prep 28. 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a family make a commitment to pray St Francis hymn of praise of creation regularly, ideally out in nature. (google and download) “ Praised be you my Lord with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun, through whom you give us light  sister moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful, brother fire through whom you light the night and sister water who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste……………  Reflect and share.   

September 17.  As they drove along Dad couldn’t help wondering, “Why is it that family members can turn out so differently?  They come from the same background, have different genes I suppose, or is there something in the environment that affects them. Maybe they had a bad friend, or someone abused them, or maybe they were always loved or maybe spoiled.”  That night they read the parable of the sower and how the same seed was sown but grew up differently.  “Is that true for us too?” Dad asked. “What kind of soil are we preparing?” Mom thought.  

Scripture. “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some feel along the path and was trodden under foot and the birds of the air devoured it. Some ………   Read Luke 8:4-15. Pope Francis:  It is important that people experience the gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives because in Christ we have been set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.  As in the parable of the sower we are called to help sow seeds, the rest is God’s work.  The Church wishes with humility and compassion to reach out to families and to help each family to discover the best way to overcome any obstacles it encounters.  AL 200

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Join a food gardening programmes, grow your own vegetables and compost food waste. Take action to build healthy soil.  Pray and thank God for daily food.  Pray, Glory be to the Father ………………

September 18. Sunday 25c.  On their eco-safari they were not able to go to Mass every Sunday but shared on the readings of the day.  “I think that the story of the dishonest steward changing the invoices of the money owed to their master is a real and serious case of corruption.  Were people like that already in those days?” Pauline asked.  Michael responded, “Well wickedness has been around since the time of Adam, don’t you know!”  In the Bible stories God also punished people through nature, e.g. the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah. Whether those are true accounts is another matter but the point is that such stories illustrate how God’s justice overcomes evil.  You can’t continue to get away with corruption. We hope that the government too will be after you.”  

Scripture: No servant can serve two masters.  You cannot serve God and mammon. Read Luke 16:1-13.   Pope Francis:   We lack the culture needed to confront the crisis of global warming, water scarcity and more.  We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations.  LS53.   We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld the laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided. LS123. 

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Witness to and lobby for Christian eco-values and social justice in the workplace or wherever one’s environment allows.  Pray for honesty and integrity in political leaders as they decide on the necessary action to combat climate change effects.  Pray Glory be to the Father……..

September 19. “Why do people keep some of their traditions and cultures a secret?”   This was something the family had noted on their travels.  They had been welcomed in many places but seldom really got to know people’s real life traditions. They listed some reasons. It has to do with privacy, with fear, embarrassment, with not wanting to be challenged, with maintaining a sense of belonging to a particular interest group, and also to superstition or even a lack of interest.  “You know I wonder if there was much more secrecy around in former times than now.  On one side everyone seems to know everything about everybody but at the same time we often keep things that worry us to ourselves.“  

Scripture: Jesus said “no one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand that those who enter may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Luke 8:16-17.  Pope Francis:   Regrettably many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. LS 14    Dialogue and cooperation need to be fostered with societal structures and encouragement given to lay people who are involved as Christians in the cultural and socio-political fields.   AL 201      ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Start or get involved in an interracial peace-building campaign on social media centred on couples and families.  Pray together for racial harmony in homes and families.  Pray  Glory be to the Father……

September 20.  For many Westerners the complexities of African extended family ties and the roles they play are a real mystery.  Why does an uncle get involved in wedding arrangements or why is a cousin called a sister or brother? Why does the firstborn remain responsible for the extended family?   A nuclear family is the image many people have nowadays of what a family is. But that is not even historically correct anywhere.  Family life and relationships have changed and are still changing in society, and marriage. The Church is challenged by these changes too.  Pope Francis’ THE JOY OF LOVE, (AL) makes many references to different types of family structures. Apart from marriage, cohabiting, single-parent, same-sex unions and child-headed units exist as well as remarried and divorced families. All are still part of the Church and live God’s plan possibly in imperfect situations as best they can. The image of Church as Family of God also implies a different kind of belonging where there is no relationship of blood or marriage. And going beyond the human family the ideal of the World as a Family of Families is something we have yet to get used to.    

Scripture: Jesus was told, your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you. But he said to them, my mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.  Luke 8:19-21.   Pope Francis:  AL

Everything is interconnected. Just as the different aspects of the planet -physical, chemical and biological are interrelated so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand.   LS 138

In addition to the small circle of the couple and their children there is the larger family.   The love between husband and wife and in a derivative and broader way the love between members of the same (extended) family is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism and is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family. JPII in AL 196

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:   Decide and discuss integral ecology and show to become an eco-friendly, family-friendly society.  Pray for a lasting eco-friendly focus in all families.   Pray Glory be to the Father…….

September 21.  As the family drove along they commented “You know I find this time out together is a kind of inner healing process. We’re in nature most of the time, mountains, miles of veld, sea but also what they call ’urban sprawl.’” Pauline’s statement got them thinking. “Is just being a healing experience and do we heal one another’s hurts?” Michael asked. “I’ve got a hurt, I scraped my knee when we were climbing that koppie the other day.  Can someone please heal that,” Melody asked. “I’ll look in the medicine box,” Mom said. But Melody answered, “No thanks, Jesus sent the apostles without any medicine. Maybe he can do mine too.”  

Scripture: Jesus gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases and he sent them out to preach the Kingdom. “Take nothing with you,” he told them.”  Luke 9:1-6.  Pope Francis: Patriarch Bartholomew asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, learning to give and not simply to give up.  It is a way of loving and moving away from what I want to what God’s world needs.  LS9. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world.   LS237

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Healing the damage to the world demands changes in behaviour. Discuss, adopt and promote Reuse-Reduce-Recycle as part of a prayer campaign. Pray, Glory be to the Father…………………

September 22. A sense of calm, peacefulness and acceptance had settled over the family during this time as they had watched sunrises and sunsets, experienced some wonderful weather but also some storms.   “Is it not like that in life generally?”  “There is a daily routine and differences in our ages do exist and are real but do not always have to be a cause for conflict or division.  That is something I learned from this time of being and sharing together.” “It was also nice to have grandma with us for a few days. I loved the story she told us.  “When the Pilanesberg nature reserve near Rustenburg was being established up to 6000 animals were imported from many different parks and wild life centres. Among them were a group of teenage elephant bulls that had been orphaned through culling in the Kruger Park.  After a while it was found that these elephants were unruly and aggressive and were attacking other animals, even rhinos. Some cars were damaged and some humans had been killed.  At first park officials were at a loss to explain this but it was eventually established that there was no proper male adult supervision for these teenagers. Animal behaviour specialists suggested that the maturing sexual development of these young males had been affected by conditions in their environment.  There were older females in the new park but they were rejecting the young bulls. The solution that was finally found was the introduction of a number of mature adult males who were able to enforce some discipline and control over the young bulls.”     

Scripture: The sun rises and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises.  The wind blows to the south and goes round to the north, round and round goes the wind.   Ecclesiastes 1:3-5   Pope Francis: The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.  LS 159.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Discuss the importance of intergenerational relationships. Connect with a new older or young person. Discover their needs and offer help.  Pray   Glory be to the Father……  

September 23.   The relaxed atmosphere of their eco-safari had given the family a different view of life. “Today people rush into everything, want the latest gadgets. You know it seems that people used to be much more patient than today.” “But still there are times when action is important.  When we challenge governments and big corporations about crime and climate change and pollution they’re very slow to act.  Should I ask, “Is there the right time or is there still time before it is too late?“    “This trip has given me hope for the future, conscious that there are no simple answers but that there is a time for everything as the Bible says.”

 Scripture. For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die

A time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted

At time to kill and a time to heal

A time to break down and a time to build up

A time to weep and a time to laugh

A time to mourn and a time to dance

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing

A time to seek and a time to lose

A time to keep and a time to cast away

A time to mend and a time to sew

A time to keep silence and a time to speak

A time to love and a time to hate

A time for war and a time for peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Pope Francis: We should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, as we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. LS90. The Earth charter asked us to leave behind a period of self-destruction and make a new start. Common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning.  Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life.   LS207.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Take time to reflect on wastefulness and on doing and having what is unnecessary. Have a clean-out and donate unused items to charity for love of the poor. Pray for acceptance and responsibility for responding to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Pray  Glory be to the Father……

September 24. Heritage day.   On Heritage Day the teenagers suggested they really needed to celebrate National Braai Day. “Why?”  “Because a braai is a good South African institution that we all enjoy.”  So when they came to a small town where at the sport stadium they saw a soccer competition being advertised.  Nearby was an outdoor eatery advertising “Buy and Braai.” That idea was new to them, but they joined in and enjoyed themselves until Michael noticed that a lot of young kids hanging around the soccer field looked really poor and hungry.  Had they had something to eat?  Could this be the right way to celebrate Heritage Day? He asked the others and they decided to buy and braai some more for the youngsters standing around.   

Scripture: At that time while they were marvelling at everything Jesus did, he said to his disciples. “Let these words sink into your ears, for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.”  But they did not understand. Luke 9:43-45  Pope Francis: Respect for our dignity as human beings often jars with the chaotic realities that people have to endure in city life. Yet this should not make us overlook the abandonment and neglect also experienced by some rural populations which lack access to essential services and where some workers are reduced to conditions of servitude, without rights or even the hope of a more dignified life. LS154

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  What contribution can you make to improving service delivery issues in your own and other communities? Pray Glory be…….

September 25.  26th Sunday C.   The way Fr Timothy presented the theme for the Mass of the day challenged them all after their Heritage Day experience.   “Why is it so difficult to accept that the difference between rich and poor is a problem? But what kind of problem is it?  Surely the poor don’t want to stay poor, they want to become rich. Is that not why they demonstrate and even riot and their deep frustration makes them show little respect for public property.  But will they ever get rich like that?  The rich also don’t want to become poor.  Why should they?  Are there not enough resources to go round, or how can we all contribute to create more?”  “The world cannot sustain more of the excessive consumption, carbon emissions and pollution. What is needed is for us all to moderate our consumption to what is sustainable.  What education towards an ecological conversion is required for everyone?”   

Scripture: Jesus said, “there was a rich man clothed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day.  At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus full of sores who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Luke16: 19-31.  Pope Francis:   When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. LS204 Yet all is not lost.  Human beings while capable of the worst are also capable of rising above themselves.  LS205  In countries which should be making the greatest changes in consumer habits, young people have a new ecological sensitivity and some are making admirable efforts to protect the environment. At the same time they have grown up in a milieu of extreme consumerism and affluence which makes it difficult to develop other habits.  We are faced with an educational challenge.  LS 209

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Study and discover ways to adopt theLaudato si Action Platform goal of simple and sustainable living. Examine your consumer habits and decide to improve where you can, saving water, electricity, paper, time, money.   Pray Glory  be to the Father.           

September 26th.   The older kids were asked to read the story of Job and so pass it on to the rest of the family.  Michael explained, “It is a teaching story of Job, who was rich and had many children but God allowed Satan, the tempter, to test him.  The test was, “Would he still believe in God’s goodness if all his possessions were taken away?”   He lost everything and his friends kept pestering him to blame God. He was almost at a point of cursing God but some faith remained in him.”  “I wonder if something like that happened to me how would I react? “  “It makes me think of unemployment. Some youth have never worked but I know a number of men who were retrenched.  That is one of the most difficult things because as bread-winner he loses his ability to provide, along with his dignity and the respect of his kids. Does he blame God?”   “It depends……..  “  

Scripture. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.  Job 1:6-22.  Pope Francis:   Human beings too are creatures of this world, enjoying a right to life and happiness, and endowed with unique dignity. So we cannot fail to consider the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture.   LS 43.

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Engage incross-cultural and cross-generational dialogue to gain better understanding about a throw-away culture. Together pray   Glory be to the Father…………..

September 27.  The family were welcomed in one small town by a faith-sharing group some of whom they had come to know.  A number of the participants had been affected by recent floods, followed by looting and rioting and in some cases family violence.  It seemed as if these misfortunes piled on top of each other had an overall negative influence on their community.  As outsiders Dad and Mom at first felt uncomfortable, but they sat quietly and listened carefully as they had been taught in their recent synodal training session.  The participants in the group  were able to pour out some of their griefs and anxieties without fear of not being accepted or being judged.  They shared about loss of family members, homes and possessions they had experienced.  At the end of the sharing they held a healing and commemoration prayer service, praying for consolation and for an end to violence and brokenness in their own family and community and for other families in the world.     .     

Scripture:  Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.  And Job said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born. Job 3:1. Pope Francis: There is the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical  abilities. LS113.  We have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach. It must integrate questions of justice in debates so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.   LS49.   

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Talk about trust or conduct a trust-building activity in a social setting. Pray for an increase of trust in God’s goodness and that of others. Pray  Glory be……………

September 28. As the family was coming near to the end of their eco-safari they shared.  “We have travelled far and wide and seen and experienced many new things.  Through seeing goodness and beauty but also simplicity and poverty I have become much more aware of the greatness of God, “ Pauline said.  Mom replied, “That is partly why we thought of this idea of going on this safari.  And it wasn’t just to see, but also to discuss and share  and grow in our family communication.”  Dad added. “I suppose all of those did work, do you agree? I am enjoying the story of Job where he argues with his friends, and even tries to argue with God, but recognises God is greater than he could possibly imagine. I think that fits in well with what we were doing.” All the children agreed they’d had a great time.  

Scripture:  Job said, Who will say to God, “What are you doing?  How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him?  Though I am innocent I cannot answer him. I must appeal for mercy to my accuser (Satan).” From Job 9:1-16    Pope Francis:  In union with all creatures we journey through this land seeking God, for if the world has a beginning and if it has been created we must enquire who gave it this beginning and who was its creator.  LS244. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see because they have been lost for ever mainly for reasons related to human activity.   Because of us they will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us.   We have no such right.  LS33

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Creation is God’s message to us. We can use our senses to experience the beautiful and the good, the ugly and the bad.  Pray with an awareness of the senses to hear God’s call to conversion.   Glory be ……

September 29. St Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, archangels.  There is a lot of interest in angels in popular culture nowadays. Fr James explained. “Angels and spirits are mentioned in various places in the Bible.  Angels are creatures of God and they are given different tasks by God. They are also honoured in different cultures in different ways, while the whole spirit world is dealt with differently too. One popular Catholic devotion, from the book of Revelation, is the prayer to St Michael the archangel as defender against the devil and his lies and evil plans.  Other archangels, mentioned by name are Gabriel, God’s messenger bringing good news, and Raphael, the healer in the book of Tobit, which is found in Catholic bibles.    “I have always been interested in angels and think that all the angels have something to contribute to our family life.” Mom said, “We did pray to St Michael and St Raphael when we were having a difficult time. We prayed for deliverance from evil and for healing. And I do believe that they helped us. “    

Scripture: Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”  John 1:51. O God, who dispose in marvellous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven.  Opening prayer of the Mass.  Pope Francis. We are journeying towards the Sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven.  LS 243    

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  Godspeaks to us through his messengers who take different forms.  The beauty of nature, animals, plants and flowers speak of God. Angels can teach us how to give glory to God as they did at Jesus’ birth. Join with them in praying Glory be to the Father .

September 30. Looking back over their travels especially through nature they agreed that the dialogue between God and Job was a wonderful thought on which to come to the end of their safari. “I think I need to read the whole story –  as soon as I can make the time! “ Pauline laughed. Michael simply said, “I believe I have become much closer to God through discovering so much about creation like birds, bees and butterflies and making God a more active part of my daily life though that. “

Scripture. The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it.  Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have the gates of death been revealed too you, or have you see the gates of deep darkness?  Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth.  Declare if you know all this.” Job answered the Lord, “Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you?”  From Job 38:12-21, 40:3-5.  Pope Francis:  The universe unfolds in God who fills it completely. The ideal is not only to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. LS 233 Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.  LS83

 ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  What aspect of nature can you build into your life?  Read up on eco-family plants like the indigenous spekboom which is drought resistant and has health benefits too or learn about the many uses of a lemon.   Pray for openness to change. Glory be to the Father……  

October 1. St Therese, the little Flower, a model of Creation Spirituality.   Because of her poor health Therese grew up as a pampered girl in a very religious family.  She felt called to become a nun but her family thought she was not Gtrong enough.  However her love of God made her persist and she entered the Carmelite convent as a very young girl of 15. Her ill-health prevented her from being out in the mission field but she kept her love for the missions. She aimed at perfection through what she called “the little things,” and prayer and meditation.  She saw these little sacrifices of ordinary events as flowers and this simple spirituality earned her the name “Little Flower.”  Four of her sisters also entered the convent and her parents Louis and Zelie Martin have been canonised, as being a truly holy couple.  Therese wrote in her journal, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?  Great deeds are forbidden me.  The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and they are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love. I do them like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say and He always understands me.”  www.catholic.org/saints.   

Pope Francis:  St Therese invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.   An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. LS 230

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:  As a couple or family share your favourite most beautiful flower and, when possible, plant it or another flowering plant to preserve it and be reminded to thank God for beauty in creation. Pray Glory be to the Father……..

October 2. Sunday 27C. At one place they stopped by a massive field of sunflowers that had just come into bloom.  Mom picked one and started pulling off the petals one by one as she used to do as a girl. Instead of saying, “he loves me, he loves me not,” she said, “good news, bad news, good news, bad news.” Then she said, “if I was talking about faith where would it end, good news or bad news?” “Good news,” came the response. “Well, we’ve been taught that the gospel is Good News. But listen to the stories in the Bible and hear how many are about a struggle in society, a struggle between good and evil one could say.  Certainly each of the prophets was constantly preaching that the good news is God’s constant care in an ongoing battle against the bad news of wars and violence, sin and destruction.  The prophets were the righteous men and women of the day. Who are our righteous ones to work together ?   

Scripture:  Write the vision down, to be easily read.  See how he tires, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” Habakkuk 2:2-4.  Pope Francis: A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions of individual countries.  Such a consensus could lead to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting sources of energy and encouraging a more efficient use of energy, promoting better management of marine and forest resources and ensuring universal access to drinking water. LS 164.  

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Select one of these areas of biodiversity and sustainability to research and promote. For  example the addressing the decreasing number of insects, butterflies, bees or bird species that impact on environmental health and wellbeing. Pray  Glory be to the Father…………….

October 3. Dad asked,  “Now that we have spent these weeks on our eco-safari and read the story of the Good Samaritan how can we each relate to it in our lives today.”  Each one thought for a while.  Pauline said, “I have been touched by the plight of the poor and homeless. I can go through my cupboard and sort out some clothes to share with the homeless families. We could go with the St Vincent de Paul to visit a shelter.” Michael thought about the man who had been attacked and shared how he wanted to help the injured. Melody wanted to look after injured animals as she had seen on their journey.  Each family member shared their own intention.   

Scripture:   A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell among robbers who stripped him and beat him and departed leaving him half dead.  Read Luke 10:25-37. Pope Francis: we must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world and that being good and decent are worth it.  We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty.   LS229

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER.  Make the Good Samaritan account a story of your life.  How can you each at your own level help those who are physically and emotionally poor and hurt by the events in their lives?    Pray Glory be…

October 4. St Francis. After they returned Michael shared with his fellow confirmation candidates. “Just like there are many Theresa’s there are also many Francises in families. Quite often children choose these as their confirmation patrons and to be their role models. We like what happened to St Francis. Jesus appeared to him and said, ‘go and rebuild my church.’ So he first thought he had to go and rebuild a broken down old building but what Jesus really meant was to go and build up the people, including himself, to love Jesus, the poor and all of creation. Although his life was not easy he was filled with the joy of love.  We have discovered that our family is trying to follow this way, as we follow our parents who really are witnesses to us and in the world.  Like St Francis we are working to be carers for OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.” 

Scripture. Come to me all who labour and are heavy ladren and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  Matt 11: 28-29 Pope Francis:  Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically.  He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast.  He loved and was deeply loved for his joy.  He lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, others, nature and himself. LS 10. The divine Persons, the Trinity, are subsistent relations, and the created world is a web of relationships. The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures.  LS240

ECO-TIP AND PRAYER:   As a family adopt St Francis as a role model and regularly read, sing and pray with joy the Canticle of Creation of St Francis or the Peace Prayer of St Francis (Make me an instrument of your peace.)  

St Francis Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,

through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us,

and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,  and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Peace Prayer of St Francis  

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
 

O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it’s in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born…
To eternal life.   Amen.