The MARFAM DAILY THOUGHTS for me are a powerful guide on my Advent faith journey. On Sunday, 1st day of Advent, with a small group of widows, we shared on our life experience and the reading was : ”You must also be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” None of us expected to lose our husband when we did. On Monday, 29the November the call was to a new, changed attitude. On 30th the feast of St Andrew there are other THOUGHTS, about him and Peter, his kid brother, who was became the leader. There was also a quotation from FRATELLI TUTTI, Pope Francis’s encyclical written after his meeting in Abu-Dhabi with the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb in2020. (Download from www.vatican.va) In their statement they outline something of that changed attitude, so necessary for the “peace on earth” for which we hope at this time. “In the name of God we declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard” FT285. For Reflection and Sharing. As family members consider what fraternity could mean for you. Is it just about being related or is there something deeper underpinning our relationships?
These were and are Important and relevant topics for me, can be for other families and even animal families, we could say. What does fraternity, brotherhood, sisterhood, or just family relationality mean? Blood relationship has special significance and we so often come together during this time of the year. Is it just to party and play games like “secret Santa” or can it be about dialogue and cooperation and understanding. Maybe about reconciliation and healing too.
The Church celebrates 4 weeks of Advent, of preparation, for celebrating the coming of Jesus as an infant but also his 2nd coming at the end of time. Different cultures have meaningful traditions and practices to bring this season to life that can enhance our faith journey. The Schoenstatt Family Movement and its smaller groups has programmes for Advent in the Family and Home. Examples are the Advent Wreath with its candles and 4 weeks of prayers. A Jesse tree is a form of Advent calendar reflecting on the ancestors of Jesus, not just with chocolates and sweets for each day. Putting up or making a Christmas crib or decorations, reading traditional stories, colouring in, singing and baking are Advent activities that need not cost an arm and a leg. Shelter Seeking has been a strong Schoenstatt practice, with a statue of Mary or the Holy Family moving from house to house seeking a place to stay. This was conducted annually in Johannesburg ending at the shrine in Bedfordview. It can be done in a parish, ward or street community and could even include a meal for poor and homeless people. Giving must be on the agenda too, giving to the poor, to favourite charities for children, elderly, sick or lonely. Giving is not only about money, but involves sharing and time and a personal touch of love. Don’t forget that this applies to our own families too. See https://marfam.org.za/2022/11/26/4596/
During Advent other more secular commemorations can also play a role. 16 Days of Activism to combat violence against women and children is from 25 November to 10 December. While most often the focus is on the victims I prefer to look at family violence, as everyone is affected when there is abuse from within or without. World AIDS day on 1st December does not get the attention it got 20 years ago, but AIDS and HIV infection are still having negative effects on families and their members. Day of Reconciliation on 16th December in South Africa has its history but our own history and need for reconciliation within and beyond our immediate families, if taken seriously, can do much to build up our society. And so we lead up to Christmas.
The greater human family in many parts of the world is torn apart by many divisions. Many are ideological rather than real. Racism, ethnicism, nationalism, even capitalism and socialism as ideologies divide us. A small human family can demonstrate in a unique way that we are different but belong. There is no true equality possible because each person is an individual and is different, male and female, old and young, with different talents and abilities. A family is a model on different levels, for co-existence and acceptance of differences while belonging and learning to live with those differences in a way that accommodates them. Families shows us that it is not about individual rights but the common good. LS 156-162. Why can we not be more like that in our greater human family and the World, a Family of Families? TR FAMILY WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER 30 NOVEMBER 2022