Way back in the 1990s , in the early years of MARFAM’s development I prepared an activity booklet for Families and children, not children alone, but families and children, to read, discuss, reflect, pray and work on for their own family enrichment. It is called, “OUR catholic HERITAGE,  Where on earth do you think you came from and Where in heaven do you think you’re going?”  From those early days the concept of Family Faith Sharing, also called A FAMILY HOUR was promoted along the lines of the SEE-JUDGE-ACT, or the PASTORAL CYCLE approach. Whether this was regularly done is an unanswered question, as we did not properly evaluate much of the work of those earlier times.   Today such a sharing activity remains equally valid and important, and intriguingly so with the upcoming SYNOD ON SYNODALITY where the same kind of process is called “Conversation in the Spirit.”   So there is some affirmation for what was done, call it MARFAM’s Heritage.

Already in the early days a calendar that used the liturgical calendar as well as national, and even commercial celebrations, was used to facilitate family communication. We included Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days and more. Pope Francis has come on board picking up MARFAM’s July theme of Grandparents. Our intention was to become a family-friendly domestic church of the home.  Over time the focus has become eco-family-friendly because through Pope Francis’ LAUDATO SI I was converted into seeing the whole of creation, not only connected – as he often says – ,but also as families because of the intimacy and blood relationships that exist.

I believe that too often SA HERITAGE DAY, celebrated on 24 September, has become what its popular nickname NATIONAL BRAAI DAY suggests.  It should not only be about eating and drinking and of course lots of beer and meat, with some bread, salads and other healthy items added.  Many parishes had festivals offering traditional foods, which are certainly an important part of one’s heritage. I toured one parish’s food stalls and did learn a bit more about some other African countries’ dishes.  What most intrigued me when I asked “why are you eating fish heads?” I was told “that is where the brains are!”  Could be true.

What I would like to see as Heritage celebrations in families are things like some of the activities in our booklet.   “What was life like in our “home country?”  How was our religion practiced there?   Who were the most famous people amongst our own ancestors? What do we as a family know about the difficulties experienced by migrants and refugees? Do we know any, where they came from and how life has changed for them?  Do we in our family think we are xenophobic or are others here that way towards us?   How are our ways to celebrate weddings, deaths and baptisms different from other cultures?  A valuable one too could be creating our own FAMILY TREE and creating a FAMILY VALUES SHIELD.  

This is also an opportunity within families where there are mixed religions, cultures and languages to reflect and share how it feels to be different, more or less valued.   11 official languages, to which now sign language is added, plus many other languages that are not official, are all part of our personal heritage which we should share with our family members for us to know and understand our loved ones better, with their gifts, strengths and weaknesses.  There is much more to heritage than black and white, or 4 racial groups, or pre- and post-apartheid thinking, or gay and straight, or women and men’s rights then and now. Differences can and should be considered and shared for us to develop a deeper sense of identity and of belonging.    Sharing our heritage is a special blessing and a necessary dimension of family communication.   

If we do not learn to love and understand our closest human fellow-creatures, how can we respect and love and care for all of creation?

Pope Francis has a beautiful way with words, and he reminds us that God loves every creature.  In his Prayer for our Earth he writes,    All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.   You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.  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.”     TR family weekly e-newsletter 27 September 2023


September 27. One Sunday afternoon, as the family drove along Pauline 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.” “Yes, well………” 

Reflect, share, act. Scripture:   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 not just as a practical campaign but as part of a prayer campaign for the care of creation in one’s wider community. Pray, Glory be to the Father………