What has the month of November meant to each of us? Was it about its final feast of Christ the King?  I believe that traditionally Catholics, like me, would have been more in touch with our own beloved dead, maybe visited a cemetery or place of remembrance and added their names to a pious list to be included in prayers at Mass.  We prayed for the repose of their souls, for a release from purgatory and for God to grant them eternal rest.  Much of that did happen, remotely, in church Some time ago I was introduced, by a very family-conscious priest friend, to the idea of families preparing a little home shrine or altar where we can remember them at home.  That is, or can be, particularly healing when there has been a tragedy in a family and it can bring the members together in a moment of shared prayer, maybe even wordless.

All that remains true, but for me, and maybe many others, the last month has had a much wider focus.  Day after day, since 7 October already, we have been faced with overwhelming experiences of death and destruction In Gaza. It began with the attack in Israel by Hamas, a radical Islamist group.  The destruction has continued with Israel’s daily bombings and air strikes, killing thousands of people, destroying thousands of families and surely leaving indelible scars on the minds and hearts of all ages.  Whatever and whosever rights have been spoken of, there is no justice in such a war situation.  Neither is there justice in the Ukrainian war or in Sudan, and many other parts of the world where politics trumps human rights and the right to life.   War is a defeat as we have heard so often from Pope Francis.  

The wars raging in our day, are political, and although history claims wars have been religious, our understanding today of God, a loving creator of all of creation, rejects that view.  A loving God cannot be held responsible for deaths and destruction on this scale.  Our loving God cannot be held accountable for the climate related disasters that happen so frequently all over the world. A heatwave in parts of Gauteng these last few days is an example of what our ongoing war on creation in the last 200 years has produced.  The awareness of the dangers resulting from climate change has grown in the last 25 years, but has our universal sense of the common good and responsibility for the lives of the whole family of creation been activated? If we reached beyond our own selfish and corporate, national, political and economic greed would a positive outcome of COP28, beginning on 30 November, be assured?  Is that what Pope Francis is hoping and praying for, and planning to challenge the world powers to accept, when he visits Dubai in the next few days?

This month of November may have included personal tragedies and, if so, God willing, it has tenderized us to other tragic situations as it has been a month fraught with tragedy and continues still. 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children runs from 25 November into December while World AIDs Day reminds us of another and still ongoing tragedy brought upon ourselves.

There was a time in my life, when after a couple conversion experience, Chris and I reflected on how we could change the world.  “if we can change our relationship we can change our family, change our parish, our community, our Church, our world.  With faith and with love we can change the family, the nation, the people of the world, but also the whole of creation.  Did it and should it still begin at the most basic human level.  Our conversion experience in 1979 was the seed that led to MARFAM, a family evangelization initiative, almost 30 years ago.  I continue this focus in our December THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY which includes a family activity A CHILDREN’S PEACE PILGRIMAGE and incorporates current events into the spirituality of Advent.

In 2015 Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si, “the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning.  In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. At the end of time the Son will deliver all things to the Father so that God may be everything to every one.  (1 Cor 15:28) LS99-100.   In Laudate Deum he restates the message, “the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise because the risen One, is mysteriously holding them to himself and directing them towards fullness as their end.  There is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The world sings of an infinite Love. How can we fail to care for it?” LD 65. Is that not the message of the great feast of Christ the King celebrated on 26th November?     May all those who suffered and died in the tragic wars of our time rest in peace and enter into eternal life.  May the love and comfort of those who accompany those many who continue to suffer be a source of strength to them.

Bishop Sipuka, the president of the SACBC asked the local Church to pray the Peace Prayer of St Francis on the occasion of the feast of Christ the King. It is the call of Christ the King. May it be our daily prayer of life.    


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love;  where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith,  where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;  and where there is sadness, joy.

 Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;  to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying (to self) that we are born to eternal life.    Amen


29th November.  Judgement. Prudence had done a Biblical Studies course for her degree and had also taken an interest in Biblical history.  In these last weeks of the liturgical year readings from the book of Daniel featured quite a lot. She explained that some of them referred to the history of the Jewish people when they were captives in Babylon and how different kings treated them and their traditions. Every country and nation has its special traditions that it values.  Desecration of these would result in judgement and punishment.  When King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem he brought people and their precious possessions of gold and silver from the temple to Babylon. Later, his son Belshazzar wanted to have a feast and use these treasured items. During the feast a hand was seen writing mysterious words on the wall. Naturally the king and his guests were terrified.  They called for Daniel to interpret the message.  He told them that it meant that the king had been judged and found wanting and would be removed from his kingdom.  

Reflect, share, Scripture.    “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.”  From Dan 5.   Pope Francis:    Eight years have passed since I published the encyclical Laudato Si, when I wanted to share with you, my brothers and sisters of our suffering planet, my heartfelt concerns about care or our common home.  Yet with the passage of time I have realised that our responses have not been adequate while the world is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point. The impact of climate change will increasingly prejudice the lives and families of many persons.   LD 2.  Action and prayer:  Remember in prayer the needs of those we have loved and lost especially in political strife and through gender based violence during these 16 days.