I don’t feel fit to go just yet, apart from picking up a lousy cold on the way home from my travelling and visiting the sick week, I seem to be way behind in planning for 2024.  Does that sound familiar?  Does it get worse or better each year?  I decided to do a little look back on my and MARFAM’s activities over the years as after all 30 years old is quite a milestone.  It is important and relevant that the UN International Year of the Family is also holding a 30th anniversary,  to which the Vatican contributed with a special letter from Pope St John Paul II in 1994.  I also found and read through a  newsletter of January 2014, which has as its editorial “saints or sinners” and was reflecting on the death of former President Nelson Mandela at the end of 2013, a former president but so much more. “A struggle hero, an icon, even a messiah figure who “taught us to forgive”, and brought South Africa through a peaceful transition from an international pariah to a respected player on the world stage. Did he do so singlehandedly? He constantly denied this, referring to himself as a loyal member of the African National Congress, acting on behalf of the party.  Was he a saint? That question was never far from my mind as I was entranced by the military pageants day by day as his body lay in state and was transported from place to place. He himself said,  ‘I’m no saint, unless a saint is a sinner who doesn’t’ give up trying.‘ “ A saying apparently originating from R L Stevenson.

The history of the ANC over the next 10 years is not my issue here, sainthood rather is.  On this question of sainthood, Pope Francis, then into the 1st year of his papacy, addressing members of his Curia referred to their work responsibilities of professionalism and service expected from them but then added the importance of holiness of life. Calling it the most important value in the hierarchy of values he said, “In the roman Curia there have been and still are saints. Holiness means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers. It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s people. For priests, this is indispensable.”  S,o in reverse, I think  we could apply the same criteria to us, lay, family people working in the world and at home, school and in our daily lives, caring for our own families and the whole world as a family of families.  Pope Francis does speak often to the whole world with his message of peace and love. 

MARFAM’S 2014 theme was work-family balance, also the 2014 20th anniversary IYF theme.  I provided a Life Pie chart for family members to check on their priorities. See the image…..    Whether working in the Church, as I have done, or in business or industry, education, or being a student or unemployed person is there a good balance in my life between the time I give to God, to work, to family, to leisure and health? Not that each sector is not equal and the largest sector has to be work/school   Striving to get and keep that balance at optimum levels is what sainthood is all about.  And the church offers us many tools, as sinners who keep on trying. Lent is only 3 weeks away.  I would like to see the IYF30 with MARFAM 30 making a meaningful contribution too. I’m not yet Fit to Go and do have a “Way to Go – still a sinner I suppose , but “Way to Go” can also mean the direction to take. 

Since IYF 1994 , there have been tremendous changes in family life with regard to marriage, sexual orientation, economics, politics, migrancy,  etc.  The SA IYF 2024 commemorations will take place around 15-16 May.  The theme has not yet been decided but is likely to be chosen from among the recent annual themes which have included, urbanization and migrancy,  demographic change and new technologies.  In 1994 we only just started switching from typewriters to computers and where have we got to?   I wonder what St Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists who lived in the 18th century would say.   Interestingly, Pope Francis chose AI – artificial intelligence, and its positive and negative potential impacts for his Jan 1 World Day for Peace 2024.  So, as we know he does have health issues but he is still pretty well on the ball, and so it is OK for me to discover his Way to Go.   Considering his age, if he can do what he does at 87, who am I to complain, still only turning 80.   Health, getting fit and keeping fit is one of the sectors of the pie chart too.  There are so many resources for a healthy life available now, digitally and in real life, but to keep it very simple the three most basic exercises are 1. Aerobic – keeping the heart pumping and breathing more deeply by walking + 2. Strengthening – pushing against sometime to make your muscles work and 3. Stretches. And fortunately, to be fit to go, one can do a lot of this, lying on your back in bed, a happy place and happy Way to Go through life.  TR  FAMILY WEEKLY 24 JANUARY 2024


January 24.  St Francis de Sales was a powerful church leader after the time of the Reformation and was able to help Catholics while also keeping a good relationship with the Protestants. He is a patron of some of religious orders who value him in particular as a doctor of the Church.  He is also patron saint of writers and of journalists. One of his well-known writings is INTRODUCTION TO THE DEVOUT LIFE. He who unjustly takes away his neighbour’s good name is guilty of sin, and is bound to make reparation, according to the nature of his evil speaking; since no man can enter into Heaven encumbered with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name. Slander is a kind of murder; for we all have three lives—a spiritual life, which depends upon the Grace of God; a bodily life, depending on the soul; and a civil life, consisting in a good reputation. Sin deprives us of the first, death of the second, and slander of the third.

Reflect, share. Scripture: To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Eph 3:8-12  Pope Francis: Education in the use of forms of artificial intelligence should aim above all at promoting critical thinking. Users of all ages, but especially the young, need to develop a discerning approach to the use of data and content collected on the web or produced by artificial intelligence systems.  Message for World Day of Peace. 2023. Artificial Intelligence and peace.  Pray:  For a correct and positive use of AI in the world.  Choose appropriate action.