AUGUST OVERVIEW. Sexuality, a Family Gift. God looked on his creation and was pleased. Particularly good was the ability for creation to continue and evolve through its sexual reproductive capability in almost every life form. Because of the special attributes of humans, including free will, human sexuality is a special gift and blessing in its most profound expression in marriage. As an ideal it is often poorly presented and understood, is still often a taboo subject or seen negatively. The consequences of sin have resulted in situations such as gender-based violence and abuse. Women’s empowerment, complementarity of men and women and positive education for youth are important. Gender-related changes and the existence of LGBTIQ+ persons is a reality today. Sexuality and procreation are core aspects of all of creation, human, animal and plant. Other than manipulating this in nature, for our human benefit, we no doubt know too little of the psycho-social aspects of sexual behaviour in animals for the common good of all of creation.
Pope Francis: In assessing the environmental impact of any project, little attention is paid to studying reproductive patterns and some species face extinction.LS35. Each person, regardless of sexual orientation ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while every sign of unjust discrimination is to be avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence. AL 250. Sexuality can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love and for mutual self-giving.” AL 280. WORLD YOUTH DAY AUGUST 2023. In a podcast just before WYD he responded to questions from youth, one of whom spoke of her struggle with transgenderism. His reply, “God loves us just as we are.” “the Lord always accompanies us, always. Even if we are sinners, he draws near to help us,”
SETTING THE SCENE. Sexuality a Family Gift. As this is such an important area it was considered best to address it from diocesan level with different departments discerning and working together, picking up on aspects relevant for them and taking these back to the parishes and families. Most basic is the understanding of sexuality which begins and is lived within any and every family.
Each of the reflections includes a Look at Life, an extract from a scripture passage of the day and quotations from Pope Francis. They can be used as individuals and groups but also valuably for faith sharing in families and end with a prayer.
August 1. Gender Justice. The bishop called a diocesan meeting, in a synodal format, to dialogue, listen and plan a programme to address the serious overarching issue of gender justice. There had been some conflict about different aspects as individual groups were passionate about their own particular focus. Some wanted to focus on sex in marriage, some on sexual orientation recognising LGBTI issues, some on women’s rights, some on Natural Family Planning or Theology of the body, or Pro-Life, or teenage sexuality. The bishop gave everyone a chance to express their views and then outlined his own understanding. The outcome of the meeting was that every group had been listened to and should be accepted and supported whether one agreed with their particular standpoint or not. It was a difficult experience but also a powerful moment of reconciliation.
Reflect, share, act. Scripture: The good seed means the sons of the kingdom, the weeds are the sons of the evil one, the harvest is the close of the age and the reapers are angels. Matthew 13:36-43 Pope Francis. Dialogue develops the habit of giving real importance to the other person. This means appreciating them and recognising their right to exist, to think as they do and to be happy. Everyone has something to contribute because they have their life experiences, they look at things from a different standpoint and they have their own concerns, abilities and insights. AL 138.
PRAYER FOR THE WOMEN OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
You are father and mother to us, your children.
We thank you for the particular and special gifts you have given to women,
the gift of nurturing life, of sustaining and supporting life,
the qualities of compassion, commitment, generosity and a willingness to share.
As they progress towards their rightful place in society we request your blessing on all women
that they may continue also to hold their rightful place in the family.
that women and men together may build a society
which will bring about the Kingdom You have promised us.
We call on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who nurtured and cared for her son and now reigns with Him in heaven
to inspire the women of South Africa,
to pray with them in their joys and in their struggles,
and to intercede for them with her Son.
Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, patroness of South Africa, pray for us.
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