JANUARY THEME.   Family Beginnings.   

In the beginning there was only God, as Trinity, a community of love. God had a passion to create, to share and to love and so every created thing, as we know them now, came into being.  The universe, the sun, moon, stars, animals, plants and humankind were created.  The desire for creation, co-creation and re-creation was implanted into every creature and through this reproductive ability our world has evolved. Humankind was given the task of being stewards of creation. That includes responsibility for our own families and all the families of creation.  This month we can reflect and share on family beginnings in human and all of creation. How can we discern our impact especially on biodiversity through our present harmful behaviour? How can we begin once more to change where it is needed in every area of our lives?  Pope Francis: As never before in history, common destiny begs 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 Earth Charter

Setting the scene.  DAILY THOUGHTS are set in an imaginary  parish using a See-Judge-Act methodology, aimed primarily at promoting faith in the home. The steps include a short Look at Life, extracts from scripture and Church teaching and possible action. (see prayer. DAILY THOUGHTS (published on website or emailed on request) are for use by families, individuals or groups. Home liturgies or parish family-related liturgies are encouraged by Fr Fidelis, the new parish priest, who encourages a greater family focus, and family catechesis. An ecological awareness, around care of the earth and of the poor can be built into the action and prayer sections of DAILY THOUGHTS always conscious of God’s presence and creation as God’s gift. See page 10 for suggestions.


(At the beginning of the new year the theme of DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT can be incorporated into the Sunday liturgy when families are back from holidays. All members are asked to recommit themselves to their forms of service.)

At the beginning of a new year in homes, school or parish many dedicated people take up their task and mission of witnessing to their faith, expressing love, mercy, and care for creation in the Church and the World as a Family of Families.  Witnessing is an outward expression of faith with the tasks of worship, teaching and service to one another, God and  creation. The parish priest, deacons, assistant ministers of the Eucharist and of the Word, members of the PPC and PFC,  choir, liturgy committee and catechists all have a recognized form of ministry. Sodality members and many Catholics who work as volunteers in the community also perform acts of service as an expression of their faith and love. Family members, as the domestic church and the first carers of creation, perform the same tasks as they pray, teach and serve each other. They are bread-winners in the world and home-makers, carrying out their chores, large and small, and pray and play together. This calling to missionary discipleship, from our Baptism, concerns all people and all of creation. 

COMMISSIONING by priest, deacon or pastoral council

I commission you, the People of God, to serve God and one another as you dedicate yourselves to your particular tasks of worship, teaching and service in order to build up the Kingdom of God in all of creation. Through our common commitment may we build the Church in our homes, the parish and the wider community to be a visible sign of God’s presence in the world.  I pledge my support to you as we work together in our ministry.


We, the People of God, in our families and the community commit ourselves to our tasks of worship, teaching and service  and dedicate ourselves to build up God’s kingdom in all of creation to the best of our ability.

BLESSING.  May almighty God, the Father bless you, the Son accompany you and the Holy Spirit inspire and guide you in your tasks ahead.          RESPONSE: Amen         


January 1.  Sunday. New year’s Day. Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Pope Francis’ 56th World Day of Peace.  Fr Fidelis began with the greeting, “the Lord be with you.  Today as we begin a New Year, let it be a year to focus on your families and THE WORLD AS A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.  The words of St Mother Teresa, “Peace on earth begins in the home” can be added to the message of Pope Francis for this World Day of Peace, ‘No one can be saved alone’.  The Holy Father referred to world events, the Covid 19 pandemic and wars still raging in places, in particular the Ukraine.   He encouraged everyone to remain steadfast and embark together on paths of peace. Our SA bishops have also issued a prayer for peace and this day can also be the beginning of a time of prayer together in our small families, for peace, harmony and care of all of creation. Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.  “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” 1 Thess (5:1-2).

Pope Francis writes in his Message for the 56th World Day of Peace:  “When tragic events seem to overwhelm our lives, we are called to keep our hearts open to hope and to trust in God, who makes himself present, accompanies us with tenderness, sustains us in our weariness and, above all, guides our path. The pandemic seems to have upset even the most peaceful parts of our world, and exposed any number of forms of fragility.” He stresses, “now, three years later, the time is right to question, learn, grow and allow ourselves to be transformed as individuals and as communities, reminding us, as  before, that we never emerge the same from times of crisis: we emerge either better or worse.   This experience has made us all the more aware of the need for everyone, including peoples and nations, to restore the word “together” to a central place. Only the peace that comes from a fraternal and disinterested love can help us overcome personal, societal and global crises.  Our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. None of us can be saved alone.”

January 2.  “Tweede Nuwejaarsday” for over 100 years this was a cultural celebration in Cape Town, within the Malay and coloured communities.   Covid put a stop to it for a time but now it is back.  The whole community prepares the costumes and practices the music, but it seems that the minstrels have been male, but of all ages. They will feature in the flamboyant street parade with singing, dancing, banjos and other instruments. The Kaapse Klopse Carnival (new name)  remembers the slave culture during the 17-19th centuries. Slaves were given this day off to celebrate the New Year.  Formal slavery has been abolished formally worldwide, but human trafficking is just one modern form of slavery and does happen, even in families. Workers at times too experience “slave labour” conditions.  In this new year can we begin to be more aware to balance celebration with justice in our society?   

Scripture.  All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy. Ps 98.3.  Pope Francis:  Cultural Ecology. Together with the patrimony of nature, there is also a historic, artistic and cultural patrimony which is under threat. This is part of the shared identity of each place and a foundation upon which to build a habitable city. Ecology involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense.  LS143.

January 3.    The most holy name of Jesus.  The Mbatha family were looking into the topic of names.   “What is in a name you may ask? How important is each one’s name to them?  Cultural groups and families choose names for their new born children for particular reasons?  There are historical family names or a favourite saint’s name or just made up names.  In our mixed cultural context people may end up with an African name and a European name. The significance of a name for one’s identity is also growing. Naming is a beginning of a person’s life journey.” Mabel commented, “In the Genesis 2 creation story God tells Adam to give names to the animals, that denotes a degree of ownership.  Taking a new name when you get married is also a sign of a new beginning.”  Jesus’ name was foretold. It means “God saves.”  Christ is not his surname but a title, meaning “Anointed One.” Find out and discuss how names matter, family names as well as surnames or clan names. 

Scripture.  And at the end of eight days when he was circumcised he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived. Luke 21:21.   Pope Francis: God allows parents to choose the name by which he himself will call their child for all eternity.   AL 167

January 4. Taking stock from time to time is an excellent thing, for individuals but for a whole family too. Mom started the discussion, “How are we going to keep a healthy balance this upcoming school and work year? Will we be able to programme some God time with our family time too into our week, time without cellphones, TV or computers? What is overall right and fair to everyone? Is it to focus on what we need for building family relationships or on material needs or your kids’ sporting schedules?  Let everyone have a say.”  

Scripture.  My children, do not let anyone lead you astray: to live a holy life is to be holy just as God is holy; to lead a sinful life is to belong to the devil since the devil was a sinner from the beginning.  1 John 3:7-8.

Pope Francis:   Consideration needs to be given to the growing danger represented by an extreme individualism, which weakens family bonds and ends up considering each member of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the idea that one’s personality is shaped by his or her desires, which are considered absolute.   Freedom of choice makes it possible to plan our lives yet if this lacks noble goals or personal discipline it degenerates into an inability to give oneself generously to others.   AL33

January 5.  Sharing.   Gloria shared.  “I have to agree with the reading for today, but still find it challenging. It seems to me  that in African extended families there is greater willingness to share.  Sometimes one person will pay school fees for another or older siblings will support their younger brothers and sisters. That is an amazing example of generosity,” “But why,” Zola replied, “isn’t that what our culture expects from us? They call it “black tax.” I know it can get overdone, but it doesn’t really worry me.” “OK, but not everyone does that kind of thing,” Gloria said.  Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.  If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:11-21. Pope Francis:  There is a need to respect the rights of peoples and cultures and to appreciate that the development of a social group presupposes a historical process taking place in a cultural context and demanding the active involvement of local people from within their proper culture.   LS 144

January 6. Identity.  The PPC Justice and Peace coordinator wrote in the parish newsletter, “When one registers for school or sends a CV to apply for a job it is important to state clearly who one is, where one comes from, was born, went to school, qualifications, etc. And to be honest too, also to start off on a good footing. Is this just for security reasons, to weed out potential trouble-makers or is there real value in knowing one’s identity and appreciating where one comes from, one’s family and parents. After all when does a family start?  Does belonging to a particular race, nation or culture still matter to the younger generation? It seems that there is definite sensitivity towards race in our country.   Share with one another. 

Scripture.  John preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stop down and untie.  After Jesus was baptized by John a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son.”  Mark 1:7-11. Pope Francis:  Only the Creator fully knows the child; he alone knows his or her deepest identity and worth. Expectant parents need to ask God for the wisdom fully to know their children and to accept them as they are. AL170   ???       

January 7. Cana. Moses shared,    “We’ve always loved this story of the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus changed water into sparkling wine.  We once heard a talk and now it reminds us often how a marriage  relationship shouldn’t just be like plain,  ordinary water but like sparkling wine.  It is a good image to share with young people, especially the engaged as they begin their new life, with Jesus as the 3rd partner in a marriage.”  The couples all agreed this ideal was worth working towards, while the youth laughed at the image. “Sparkling wine, Wow!”  

Scripture.  This is the first sign Jesus did at Cana in Galilee and it manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him.”  John 2:1-11. Pope Francis: Marriage is a precious sign, for when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage God is, as it were, mirrored in them.  He impresses in them his own features and indelible character of his love.  Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. AL 121 Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 8.  Sunday Epiphany A.   The revelation of Christ to the whole world.  Fr Fidelis began his homily with a little story.   He called it ‘Out of the Mouths !’ “Daniel aged 5, returned from children’s liturgy with a new perspective on the Christmas story.  He had learned all about the wise men from the east who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Daniel was so excited he just had to tell his parents, ‘I learned all about the very first Christmas. There wasn’t a Santa Claus way back then, so these three blokes on camels had to deliver all the toys. And Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer with his nose so bright wasn’t there yet, so they had to have this big light in the sky to find their way around.  And Jesus’ mom and dad……; Thanks Daniel.” Father laughed and continued. “The story of the three wise men and King Herod is a story about good and evil, about selfishness and openness, about strangers and mercy, acceptance and generosity.  We celebrate how God revealed himself as a God of justice and merciful love to all people and all of creation.  We both rejoice and are challenged to act as the wise men did, to follow a star that leads to God.  Who or what is your star?  Share together.   

Scripture.  When they had heard the king they went and behold the star which they had seen in the East went before them till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly. From Matt 2:1-12. Pope Francis: In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning.  All things have been created through him and for him. The Lord was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world, because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder.   LS 97-99.

January 9. Baptism of the Lord.  On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord the parish had often held a community baptism celebration.  Most of those to be baptized were small babies, others children, but some grownups too had come for Baptism.  Parents, godparents and the older candidates had enjoyed the preparation sessions, the RCIA and the home reflections. When Fr Fidelis read the Gospel of the Day at the ceremony he invited each sponsor or parent to consider the gift of a child and the gift of faith, reminding them this is a beginning of life as a child of God. As they did, they felt a real sense of pride as they agreed with the words of the Father, “This is my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” Reflect and share on the personal significance of baptism. 

Scripture.  In those days Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.   Mark 1:7-11. Pope Francis: When I think of the value of solidarity I think first of families, called to a primary and vital mission of education.  They are the first place where the values of love and fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out. These can be handed on from a tender age.  FT 114. 

January 10. Unclean spirit.  Rosemary had not chosen to become a sex worker.  As a teenager she had been lured into prostitution by the promise of a job as a way out of the poverty of her family.  At 18 she had become disgusted by the lifestyle. It was when by chance she visited the local church and heard the powerful message that was preached that she was challenged  to change.  “I can be made clean. Jesus remove this unclean spirit within me,” she prayed under the guidance of the sister at Mercy House who had become like a mother to her.  

Scripture.  You have made man/woman little lower than the angels, with glory and honour you crowned him/her. With authority he commands even unclean spirits and they obey him.  Mark 1:20-28.  Pope Francis:  We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude towards others.  This assumes that we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God and His love that is prior to any of our own efforts, a love that constantly opens doors, promotes and encourages.  AL 107-8. Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 11.  Mothers-in-law.  Why do mothers-in-law have such a bad reputation, it seems across the board?  The parish was quite racially mixed and it was interesting that different women got together and agreed to meet and talk it through with daughters-in-law as a good start to resolving some of this negative attitude.  Albertina said, “Maybe we are to blame, or maybe it is the young ones who want greater independence. Most likely there is some aspect and attitude from both sides and it probably doesn’t help to blame anyone. Let’s all give it a try”.  

Scripture.  Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up and the fever left her and she served them. From Mark 1:29-39.

 Pope Francis.  The larger family includes in-laws and all the relatives of the couple. One particularly delicate aspect of love is learning not to view these as competitors, threats or intruders. AL198.  Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 12.    Covid.   What did we learn?  Sr Margaret reflected, “Covid very much caught everyone unaware at first in 2020. There was concern, great fear and even denial.  All kinds of rules were formulated about wearing masks and sanitizing and washing.  One of the most painful aspects for families was the fact that traditional practices around death and burial were banned. Traditionally a body has to be washed before burial but contact with a dead body was prohibited and protective clothing had to be worn against infection with the virus. Due to lack of contact all of humanity was forced to abandon many activities and habits, making us more vulnerable and dependent.  Mixed emotions around disease led to a lot of mental stress for all ages.  At the same time a greater sense of care and a degree of universal solidarity was created, although churches were closed and could offer only limited spiritual and psychological support. After three years have we retained some of the sense of concern for others and a less frenetic lifestyle?” Sr Margaret decided to make it her life’s work to address the issue of building solidarity and aiming for a simpler lifestyle.  

Scripture.  A leper came to Jesus begging him and kneeling said to him, “If you will you can make me clean.”  Mark 1:40. 

Pope Francis. Once this health crisis passes our worst response would be to plunge ever more deeply into feverish consumerism and new forms of egotistic self preservation.  God willing, after all this, we will think no longer in terms of “them” and “those” but only of “us.”  FT 35.  Reflection and Sharing. What have we learned from Covid and do we need to begin again to change our attitudes? 

January 13. Forgiveness.  Doreen thought, “I’m not sure what children are taught in catechism these days but I distinctly remember growing up with a belief that only God can forgive. It was much later on that I realised that we all have the power and even the duty to forgive others, as we say in the Our Father.   I can think of 2 examples.   Remember Oscar Pistorius and Janusz Walus.   Oscar shot and killed his girlfriend and is still serving a sentence but due for parole some time.  Reeva’s mother says she has forgiven him because she is a Christian and has to forgive. Janus shot Chris Hani, a political assassination.  Hani’s family, are Catholics, but were also aligned with communism.  They have refused to forgive him, still, 30 years later. For many years Janusz could not get parole because of that. I find that sad.  I wonder if I could still be a catechist, or am I too old now, and with my modern views?”

Scripture. “Child, your sins are forgiven.   Now some scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts. “Is this blasphemy?  Who can forgive sins but God alone? Mark 2:1-12

Pope Francis:   Each of us should realise that even the harsh judgement I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancour that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a struggle that I carry within me, a little flame deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it turns into a great blaze.   FT243. Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 14.  Sinners.  Jock said, ”Have you ever wondered why so many “tax collectors and sinners” were so keen to follow Jesus? Was it because of a guilty conscience or because they were treated as outcasts, or a genuine conversion to follow Jesus’ way?     What is a sin, and who is a sinner anyway? Matthew just left his job, got up and followed.  Zacheus even offered to make up for anything unjust and pay back what he overcharged as a Roman tax collector. Admitting you are wrong can be one of the most difficult things to do and then on top of that making up for the wrong is even harder. That is true mercy.  Don’t we see the need for that all the time around us, even at home?  For us Catholics confession is about a new beginning, something to consider these days.”   Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.  As he sat at table in his house many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples for there were many who followed him. Jesus said, “ I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” From Mark 2:13-17

Pope Francis.  For human beings to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation, 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, for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, it’s air and its life, these are sins. To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God. LS8

January 15. Sunday 2A.  On this Sunday, expecting that most people would be back from holidays and starting school and work, Fr Fidelis and the PPC had prepared a Parish Dedication ceremony.  They saw this as keeping the call to synodality in mind with its themes of communion, participation, mission.  “You are all called to be disciples, followers of Christ,” Fr Fidelis told the congregation, “so everyone can be commissioned to do the work you have to do, couples, parents and children, teachers and catechists, workers out in the world and those who assist in the Church. Let us dedicate ourselves to God and to building up God’s kingdom.” 

Scripture.  Paul called by God to be an apostle and our brother Sosthenes to those sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours, ‘Grace and peace.’  1 Cor 1.  Pope Francis.  It is this path of synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium.”[2] This journey, which follows “renewal” proposed by the Second Vatican Council, is a gift and a task. By journeying together and reflecting together on the journey that has been made, the Church will be able to learn through  experience which processes can help her to live communion, to achieve participation, to open Herself to mission.


At the beginning of a new year in homes, school or parish many dedicated people take up their task and mission of witnessing to their faith, expressing love, mercy and care for creation in the Church and the World as a Family of Families.  Witnessing is an outward expression of faith with the tasks of worship, teaching and service in ministry to one another, to God and in care of creation. The parish priest, deacons, assistant ministers of the Eucharist and of the Word, members of the Parish Pastoral Council, choir, liturgy committee, catechists and teachers all have a recognized form of ministry. Members of different sodalities and many Catholics who work in a voluntary capacity in the wider community perform acts of service as an expression of their faith and merciful love. Family members too, as the domestic church and the first carers of God’s creation, perform the same tasks as they pray, teach and serve each other with merciful love. They are bread-winners in the world and home-makers carrying out their chores, large and small, as well as pray and play together. This responsibility, started with Baptism, and the call to missionary discipleship, concerns all people and all of creation.  

(The themes of DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT can be incorporated into the Sunday liturgy where all members are asked to recommit themselves to their forms of service.)

COMMISSIONING by priest, deacon or pastoral council

I commission you, the People of God, to serve God and one another as you dedicate yourselves to your particular tasks of worship, teaching and service in order to build up the Kingdom of God in all of creation. Through our common commitment may we build the Church in our homes, the parish and the wider community to be a visible sign of God’s presence in the world.  I pledge my support to you as we work together in our ministry.


We, the People of God, in our families and the community commit ourselves to our tasks of worship, teaching and service  and dedicate ourselves to build up God’s kingdom in all of creation to the best of our ability.

BLESSING.  May almighty God, the Father bless you, the Son accompany you and the Holy Spirit inspire and guide you in your tasks ahead. 

RESPONSE: Amen              


January 16. Marriage.  Joyce said, “I’ve always liked the saying, A WEDDING IS A DAY, A MARRIAGE IS A LIFETIME.  It reminds us that marriage is the ideal start of a family.”  Paul added, “And for us the saying, “Jesus is the third partner in a happy marriage” has been very special and important too. There were times that I was inclined to forget that and rely on my own abilities and feelings.  We were lucky that we had some good role models for marriage and family life and also a very supportive priest. They really encouraged us in the more difficult times. 

 Scripture.  Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?   The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from and then they will fast.  Mark 2:18-22.   Pope Francis.  AL236-8.  There are personal crises that affect the life of couples, involving finances, problems in the workplace, emotional, social and spiritual difficulties.  Some have the maturity needed to reaffirm their choice of the other as their partner on life-s journey, despite limitations of the relationship. They work patiently at strengthening the marriage bond.  They realise that every crisis can be a new “yes,” enabling love to be renewed and deepened.  AL236-238.  Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 17. Keeping the Sabbath. After the changes in church life due to Covid groups gathered and discussed how it had impacted  them. “It’s quite a modern way of thinking to say that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. But doesn’t it allow for just a bit too much freedom about whether I do or don’t feel like going to Mass.” “Maybe the sting is in the tail, because Jesus adds, “so the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath,’ and what did he tell us to do?” “Oh, oh, trying to figure what Jesus means in some of his sayings is sometimes the hardest thing of all.” “The Church keeps teaching us that Sunday Mass is not just a law but something valuable for our spiritual growth.” “It doesn’t always feel like that though.” “And homilies aren’t always as helpful as listening to one’s favourite preacher on line.” And so the group continued their discussion.    Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.  The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.  Mark2:28.  Pope Francis:   It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. In the Eucharist fullness is already achieved. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist the whole cosmos gives thanks to God.  LS236. 

January 18.   Mom started the conversation,  “What I like about Mark’s gospel is that he portrays Jesus in very human ways.  Jesus was angry and at the same time sad. That’s how we parents feel a lot of the time with teenagers, and maybe it is the same the other way round too. I propose that, for our family, as well as finding time to pray together we need to play, to have fun, to share our feelings and learn to listen to one another without judging. But I think we also need to do some teaching, like about environmental matters.  You young people know a lot but who will bring out the point of view of God’s creation.  Who else will do so?  Who agrees? ”  Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.   He looked at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man. “Stretch out your hand and his hand was restored. Mk 3:1-6   Pope Francis. Ecological education can take place in a variety of settings, at school, in families, in the media. The family is the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected. We first learn to show love and respect for life, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures.   LS 213. Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 19. At a meeting of religious superiors Sr Malachy shared her concern about the behaviour of some members of her religious community.  Others, men and women, echoed her concern. They acknowledged that there was not always faithfulness to their vows. “It is the same in marriage we well know, but that is no excuse for us, surely we are called to be examples to one another, the families we care for and model the care for all of creation.”  “Care of creation is almost like a new addition that is very helpful for us as religious.”    

Scripture.  A vow is a vow before God.  I am bound by the vows I have made you, O God, I will offer you praise.  From Psalm 56:13.  Pope Francis. Virginity is a form of love.  As a sign it speaks to us of the coming of the Kingdom and the need for complete devotion to the cause of the Gospel.   AL 159

January 20.   When Percy started working at a call centre the family talked about calls and calling. “In quite a different sense what would it mean to you to feel called, needed, wanted by God?” Dad asked. “Imagine how the twelve men felt when Jesus called them to leave their jobs and come and follow him, go preaching and casting out demons. People are still called in that sense, to a vocation, but there are also some pastors or prophets nowadays who seem to believe they are called by God, but do the weirdest things, eating rats or snakes. How can you be sure they heard God calling? Reflect, share, act, pray.

Scripture.  Jesus called to him those whom he desired and they came to him. He appointed twelve to be with him and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. Mark 3:13-19.  Pope Francis. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social but rather with one complex crisis which is both. Strategies demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature. LS 139

January 21. The Jacksons were throwing some ideas around. “Would Jesus have been an influencer, a celebrity? Would he have had a million followers on Twitter or facebook, or posting videos of himself on Tick-Tock.” “Would his family have thought he was crazy?” “He did have many thousands of followers looking for bread and listening to his message but who were they?  When push came to shove, all except a few abandoned him. But then the few grew and grew to what the Christian church is today?” “ Is his mission now complete or what do the actions of some of his Catholic and Christian followers show?” “I want to know, if he came to earth in 2023, where and who would he be?”   Reflect, share, act, pray

Scripture: The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.  When his friends heard it, they went to seize him for they said, “He is beside himself.”  Mark 3:20-21. Pope Francis:   Jesus lived in full harmony with creation and others were amazed. His appearance was not that of an ascetic set apart from the world, nor of an enemy to the pleasant things in life. He was for removed from philosophies which despised the body, matter and the things of the world. He worked with his hands in daily contact with the matter created by God. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us man collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. LS98   

January 22.  Sunday 3A.   Fr Fidelis referred to the symbolism of light and darkness noted in the Gospel of the day that also implies good and evil, positives and negatives, and giving or destroying the fullness of life. Family life is never totally one or the other.  Some things will work well and others badly.  “There needs to be organisation and leadership to address issues and divisions no matter what type of family unit there is, or whoever heads the family; nuclear family, extended family, single parent, granny-headed, child-headed, no children, same sex or whatever.  Nothing is worse than disorganised chaos in a home which will inevitably lead to conflict and instability.   How have you been doing so far with your resolutions for this year, for yourself and at home?  Do you need to start over before this first month ends?“ 

Scripture.  I appeal to you by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement.  1 Cor 1:10. Pope Francis. The Church has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities.  She works for the advancement of humanity and universal fraternity. She does not claim to compete with earthly powers but to offer herself as a family among families, open to bearing witness in today’s world, open to faith, hope and love for the Lord and for those whom he loves with a preferential love. A home with open doors, because she is a mother.  FT276. Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 23.  Naomi wanted to start working full time, Peter, her husband,  wanted her at home for the kids. John wanted to go to boarding school to get out of the house and the twins hid in their room every time this argument started,  hoping the problem would just go away.  They would look at the picture their teacher had given them of St Mother Theresa with the words, “Peace on earth begins at home” and pray.  Everyone knew that behind the argument was selfishness but God’s mercy finally helped them to be able to sit down together and discuss their family situation rationally.

Scripture.   If a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand.  Mark 3:22-30. Pope Francis.   Unity is greater than conflict.  All of us know that when we as individuals and communities learn to look beyond ourselves and our particular interests then understanding and mutual commitment bear fruit. FT 245. Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 24. St Francis de Sales is the patron saint of the media, of journalists and writers. Gideon explained, “As a “Doctor of the Church” he wrote many books on spirituality. Journalism is a job, a career but also a vocation to seek out the truth and expose it.  That can be a dangerous mission, requiring courage to speak the truth.  Journalists have been captured, held hostage, charged falsely but some have also been “captured” by the views of a political party.  Environmental activists today also have a very important role to conscientize people about the harm being done to the environment. Everyone should pray for mercy as well as honesty, integrity and truth in all parts of the media world, especially social media. “

Scripture.  It was not you who chose me but I chose you and appointed you so that you may go and bear fruit that may last so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. John 15:9-17  

Pope Francis. When the media and the digital world become omnipresent their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. Efforts need to be made to help the media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity. LS 47.  Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 25. Conversion of St Paul.  Josie had read a reflection on the story of Saul, who had been persecuting the early Christians until he had a conversion experience; a blinding light, falling off his horse and hearing a voice saying, “Why do you persecute me?”  She decided that this can be interpreted as Jesus, present in the Church, and in Jesus’ followers who are being persecuted.  Could Jesus ask you and me that question today, “Why do you persecute me, and how?” If we asked him Jesus could say through abuse, bullying, cruelty to animals, or deliberately hurting  others, making no effort to prevent destruction of creation and ignoring your relationships with God. Do we each need a conversion experience and to begin a new commitment to root out a particular fault we have?

Scripture.   I heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do  you persecute me? ”  from Acts 22:3-16 

Pope Francis.   Pope Francis and the Muslim Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb signed a declaration and resolved that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism or incite violence. These tragic realities are a deviation from religious teachings and result from political manipulation of religions. “In the name of God we declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue.  FT 285. Reflect, share, act, pray.

 January 26. Johnny posed a question for reflection and sharing.  “Is it good or bad to have or keep secrets?” That was not such a simple question as one might think, as in principle the truth needs to be told, but there are times when it is necessary to avoid disclosure to protect someone from harm. In politics as we have seen there is lying and fraud that absolutely has to be brought to light. But whistle-blowers may have to act in secret because it can be very dangerous and a risk to one’s life. Political opponents or criminal gangs do not have a conscience.    

Scripture.  Jesus said “is a lamp brought in to be put under a bed and not on a stand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret except to come to light.  Mk 4:21-22 

Pope Francis. The United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests.   We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.  There is no room for the globalization of indifference.   LS 52.  Reflect, share, act, pray.

January 27. Angela Merici. There was a time in Europe  around 1500, when girls did not get the same privileges and education as boys.  St Angela Merici recognised this injustice and founded the Ursuline sisters to educate and care for girls and their moral formation. That situation still exists in places, as we have heard in recent news.  In Afghanistan the Taliban are excluding girls from high schools, university and even women from work opportunities. Even in our own families we can ask ourselves whether children are respected, and boys and girls are respected equally.  If not what can be done to start to put this right?

Scripture.  Whoever receives one of such children in my name receives me and not only me but the one who sent me.  Mark 9:34-37.  Pope Francis. Let us think about the many children who suffer from forms of violence that rob them of the joy of life.  I keep thinking of their sorrowful and bewildered faces. They are pleading for our help to be set free from the slavery of the contemporary world. The Face of Mercy 19.   A real and lasting peace will only be possible on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.  FT127

January 28. Thomas Aquinas.   Just as there have been great political leaders throughout history there have been wise men, teachers and philosophers.  St Thomas Aquinas, a contemporary of St Francis, living in the 13th century is still seen as one of the great teachers of the church.  His writings form a foundation for the training of priests. Are we as lay family people interested in learning more about theology, philosophy or, at a practical level, Catholic social teaching, especially the newer insights into the care of creation from encyclicals like Laudato Si’. Do we encourage our family to do so?

Scripture.  I prayed and understanding was given to me.  I entreated and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. Compared with her I held riches as nothing. Wisdom 7:7.  Pope Francis. The great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload.  LS 47.  Today many people have no experience of God himself and this represents the greatest poverty and the major obstacle to recognition of the inviolable dignity of human life.  FM18. Reflect, share, act, pray.  

January 29. Sunday 4A   Fr Fidelis started his homily by playing devils’ advocate.  He said, “I’m not sure but it seems to me that Pope Francis is too concerned about “the poor.“ I know that there are millions of destitute people all over the world and we should care for them, but what about us?  We’re not rich, but even rich people, e.g. lay leaders and business people, need to be loved by God?  Does that sound all wrong? Does “poor in spirit” also mean that we don’t value possessions over everything else and should be willing to share?  Don’t all the beatitudes, like a mission statement, talk about concern for others in various ways.”

Scripture.  Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are……..  Mat 5:1-12. Pope Francis.  It is the time of mercy because the poor should feel that they are regarded with respect and concern by others who have overcome indifference and discovered what is essential in life.  Face of Mercy 21. Reflect, share, act, pray.   

January 30th. Protas was a confirmation catechist and his group studied the gospel of this day. He began, “Today there is still a strong belief in spirits and ancestors and different forms of possession by evil spirits.  Most common in some cultures in our country is the belief and practice of witchcraft. Satanism also comes to the fore from time to time.  However, we can also consider ‘What are today’s unclean spirits?   Can addictions be seen in this light?’  Alcohol and drug abuse cause a great deal of harm, physical, mental and spiritual too.  The majority of fatal accidents and much family violence, especially against women and girls happens under the influence abusive substances. In your families or when you are confirmed, will you make a pledge never to allow such an evil spirit into your life.?”          

Scripture. Jesus had said , “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”  As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed begged Jesus that he might be with him. But he refused and said, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.”  Mark 5:1-20.  Pope Francis:  Drug use, alcoholism, gambling and other addictions are scourges of our time, causing immense suffering and even breakup for many families.  The family could be the place where these are prevented and overcome, but society and politics fail to see that families at risk lose the ability to act to help their members. AL 51. Reflect, share, act, pray.   

January 31st.  St John Bosco was a saintly man, passionate in his concern for youth and street kids in particular. He founded the Salesian priests as well as brothers and sisters to care for and educate boys and girls.  Some youths do have families, that are dysfunctional and unable to cope.  In a sense Don Bosco was creating a new, substitute family, for them. The call to the greater Don Bosco’s Family in 2023 is based on the parable of the woman with yeast.

Scripture.  “And again he said, “to what should I compare the kingdom of God?” It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened. Luke. 13:20-2 “ It aims at being a clear and thought-provoking message directed to discovering the lay dimension in this family that we are all involved in, and where the majority of its members are lay people, women and men from every country, with their lay and Christian life that calls upon them to be true leaven in humankind which is so much in need of this. It presents yeast as an image of the fruitfulness and growth of the kingdom of God in the hearts of people, which fertilizes the richness of the gift of the call to life and of the vocation where God has planted us, directing the mission of the laity and of the entire Family of Don Bosco throughout the world.”  From Strenna 2023

Pope Francis. The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church. AL43   The call and the demands of the Spirit resound in the events of history and through these the Churchy can be guided to a more profound understanding of the inexhaustible mystery of marriage and the family.” AL31.  One symptom of the great poverty of contemporary culture is loneliness, arising from the absence of God in a person’s life and the fragility of relationships. AL43

For reflection and sharing. Let us begin each day to thank God for whatever experience of family life we do have. Thank God too for those who give themselves to the care of those less privileged in families.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR BECOMING AN ECO-FRIENDLY FAMILY   – promoting ecological spirituality  

  • Families are called to care for the greater family of creation, our common home and all its plants and animals as fellow-creatures in OUR WORLD A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.  Discuss what action to take as individuals and as a family.   
  • Thank God for creation as a whole.
  • Check out the LAUDATO SI ACTION PLATFORM (LSAP) goals on www.laudatosiactionplatform.org
  • Reflect and share on the Laudato Si goals, one at a time.  Choose an action.  
    • Listen to the cry of the poor.
    • Listen to the cry of the earth
    • Practise sustainable living
    • Ecological economics
    • Ecological education
    • Ecological spirituality
    • Community resilience and empowerment
  • How do we rate as a loving, eco-friendly family?      
  • Become water-wise, as an individual or family .
  • Do a carbon footprint exercise and consider what can be changed.   
  • Take some action to preserve the earth for your children in future.  
  • We think only of rape as abuse against a woman. Let us also consider the rape of the earth as an evil to be challenged
  • As families consider our role in encouraging ecological conversion, e.g. promoting healthy eating and simple life styles.
  • Take some action to become an environmental missionary, reaching out to others. .
  • Pray that the evil forms of abuse of the environment will cease.
  • Consider, how can reflecting on the beauty of the gift of sexuality in all forms of life help to heal wounds?
  • Consider and discuss the issue of prejudice and discrimination in our family?
  • Is there someone you know who needs your mercy?
  • Take some action for the protection of all life.
  • Take some action to end trafficking of wild life.
  • Adopt a wild creature as a virtual pet and study its lifestyle.
  • Praise God and pray or sing St Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures   
  • Set some family rules about eco-friendly behaviour.
  • Invite married couples to do an examination of conscience on the subject of water and wine. 
  • Take responsibility for encouraging everyone to switch off all unneeded electricity.  
  • How can you avoid polluting the environment today?   
  • There are many things we can begin as families to do ourselves, like recycling, saving energy and water and learning more about our carbon footprint.  Choose one action to do today.
  • Pray in thanksgiving for the gift of new life in all its forms.  
  • Start a vegetable garden.
  • Plant one or more indigenous trees or shrubs
  • How can you act out the ecological responsibility of the baptized?
  • What action can you each take in your particular environment/context, school, work, home?
  • A family take some time to thank God for whatever experience of family life we did have in the past, and do have now. Let us also resolve to consider how we can begin or what changes need to be made for the good of our families.
  • Thank God too for those who give themselves to the care of those less privileged, especially the poor, homeless, migrants, abandoned and abused and provide a substitute family for many people young and old.