The MARFAM theme for the month of November is LOSS AND ENDINGS.   Little could I imagine what the reality facing our world in the last years would involve.   So often we deal with death in our immediate circle, of family and friends, but the 2020-2022 COVID pandemic, opened the vista much wider. The present situation in Israel, other areas of conflict in the world, Ukraine, Sudan and elsewhere, also involve much larger numbers.  Then there are climate change related disasters and I wonder if we can call them natural or manmade.  Earthquakes and floods, maybe after years of drought, have caused many deaths. In many cases there are endings which may not include death.  Relationships end, divorce and family break-ups happen for different reasons and on the smaller scale. Thousands of people are displaced and forced away from their roots, to migrate and leave others and loved ones behind.  They feel the pain.

All these are cases of loss and bereavement result in grief and mourning.  The Holmes stress level scale lists the levels of trauma of various changes, with the death of a spouse being at 100%. I would say this is so in normal circumstances, but some of the very horrifying events we witness or view on TV and other media every day can depict greater trauma. Also sadly, we, as media witnesses, may become immune to the pain of others.

Lots of analyses are published or broadcast and posted on social media for anyone and everyone but is it not true that not everyone wants to watch and listen to such tremendous pain and sadness, inflicted by humankind on our brothers and sisters?

With the world’s focus largely on invasions, bombings and these types of war at present, the war on the environment appears to be being pushed aside, and yet it is also connected and certainly affected.  COP 28 is short for “the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”   Does that in any way mean a conference of the people, or only of governments, politicians, economists and more abstract bodies who are making life-giving or life-destroying decisions for the rest of us?  Who are we and what role can we play to become accountable and take responsibility in our daily lives? Only then will we begin to feel the pain.  

In LAUDATO DEUM Pope Francis issues a call to nations, a call towards multilateralism. but to individuals too, and here I would say “families” as all the world leaders and decision-makers and planners are members of human families with responsibility for each sector of the family of creation. He does write, “goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all, they have to be realized each day.   For there to be solid and lasting advances I would insist that preference should be given to multilateral agreements between states, more effective world organisations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty and the sure defence of fundamental human rights. LD 35. Efforts by households to reduce pollution and waste, and to consume with prudence are creating a new culture. The mere fact that personal family and community habits are changing is contributing to greater concern about the unfulfilled responsibilities of the political sectors and indignation at the lack of interest shown by the powerful.   FD70.  

MARFAM makes a tiny contribution to these challenges facing our world, the warring people and the victims. Non-aligned bystanders can hardly exist. We all have a role to play,  we can reflect in order to feel the pain. Reflect on our past and the crimes against one another, the present and overcoming our sense of helplessness and loss of faith,  and reflect on the future which we will be leaving for generations to come.  This month in particular we can reflect on past and present martyrs and future saints.  

We are all God’s creatures, brothers and sisters – in the eyes of St Francis.  The Synod on Synodality has been offering us a new way to pray, called a Conversation in the Spirit, learning to share and to listen to one another and to the Holy Spirit.  And “stop shouting” mindlessly as one rabbi said in referring to the pro-Palestinian protest marches. Pope Francis only this week announced that 2024 will be a Year for Prayer. He said, Prayer that comes from the heart, not like parrots. No. From the heart. May the words that are spoken come from the heart.” In that way we can hear the grief, as well as, through our solidarity, experience a unique joy, described by St Francis himself, as the joy of bearing our suffering with patience and joy and thinking of the suffering of our Blessed Lord which we can share out of love for him. From the Little Flower of St Francis.    TR   FAMILY WEEKLY 15 NOVEMBER 2023


15 November. All illnesses, physical and mental, result in a loss in the quality of life. Some are fatal.  Some diseases cause a loss in dignity too as sufferers are discriminated against and stigmatised.  Many of those infected with HIV and those who have died from Aids related diseases have suffered serious psychological and emotional pain too.  Leprosy was a terminal disease until very recent times and in Jesus’ day sufferers lived as outcasts from the community. An important part of St Francis’ conversion was his willingness to touch a leper and later to work with lepers. Covid required isolation and many families suffered mental trauma especially when members died alone and they had no sense of closure. As a family activity reflect back on times of family illness and how you responded to the needs experienced.  

Reflect, share,Scripture.   One of the lepers when he saw he was healed turned back praising God.  Jesus asked,, Were not ten lepers cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except his foreigner?”  Luke 17:11-19.  Pope Francis:  The family can discover together with the Christian community new approaches, a different way of understanding and identifying with others by welcoming and caring for the mystery of the frailty of human life.AL47.  The earth’s resources are being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, the loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future for food and for curing disease and other uses. LS 32.  Action and prayer:  Remember in prayer the needs of those we have loved and lost.