We’re getting to the end of February, the month of Love, with our family theme LOVE GIVES FAMILIES LIFE.   Pope Francis has said, “Love always gives life,” something worth remembering.  During the earlier part of the month I did focus on marriage as we celebrated World Marriage Day on 11th. Valentine’s Day on 14th coincided with Ash Wednesday which changed the tune slightly, but it hasn’t taken us away from love and life-giving. Being repentant and working towards reconciliation is life-giving in the sense that it brings or renews life in a relationship, with some person,  also with God or even within oneself.  Forgiving oneself as a result of repenting is a true life-giving act.    The concept of “life-giving decision-making” as a vision for marriage morality was introduced to us through Catholic Engaged Encounter in 1981 when we began to share in this ministry and it has remained a powerful concept for me ever since.   Wouldn’t it be great if all family decision-making had such a vision behind it?    

Life-giving in a specific and more focused way is offered in a number of different programmes by Church-related organisations. Natural Family Planning (NFP) and anti-abortion campaigns focus on very specific aspects of life-giving, not just in action but in promoting the mentality of life-giving love.  NFP is built on the premise that acts of sexual intercourse should be open to life. The method is taught to couples as part of their marriage preparation. Another very special love and life-giving project is Culture of Life (CoLA), and its MOTHER OF MERCY CRISIS HOME for pregnant mothers. Women – or families – in crisis and panic mode may too easily be led into having an abortion and killing an innocent baby.   Saving a baby’s life is an alternative option, but it is even more than saving a baby as it is life-giving for the mother or the family in crisis too by giving her a haven and some possible life-skills to rebuild her life.   Pro-life projects of different kinds focus on prevention of abortion, provide pre and post abortion counselling and education for youth.  The TLC (The Love of Christ) project outside Johannesburg has been active for 30 years, providing a home for over 900 abandoned babies, arranging foster-care and adoption and even caring for some children for a number of years, building a unique type of life and loving-giving family.  Rachel’s Vineyard is a post-abortion healing programme.    

But with MARFAM’S particular eco-friendly family focus love and life-giving are also part of Care of Creation also within animal families.   Some of God’s creatures do partner for life with one partner, while many are more generous in sharing their love and life-giving potential.   

In the secular world terms such as climate change or environmental awareness do not necessarily have the inbuilt life-giving love vision.   Pope Francis in Laudato Si  76 explains: “In the Judeo-Christian tradition the word ‘creation” has a broader meaning than “nature” for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance.  Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.”   The word communion also reminds us of the synodal process of participation, communion and mission to be developed and expressed in dialogue or Conversation in the Spirit, i.e. listening and sharing from the heart.    As we keeping being reminded, “Everything is connected” on the journey of life, and life-giving love.   I can’t resist sharing an all-time favourite song of mine, by Jacques Brel.   “IF WE ONLY HAVE LOVE.” which says it all for me.   “If we only have love, we can reach those in pain…… we can melt all the guns and bring a new world to our daughters and sons. Then with nothing at all but the little we are, we’ll conquered all time, all space and the stars. “

MARCH Daily Thoughts are being posted with a focus for the month of HUMAN RIGHTS ARE FAMILY RIGHTS.     TR  FW 28 February 2024. 


2024 is a leap year and so, as everyone knows, there are traditions around the extra day in the calendar every 4 years.  A common one – a very early women’s empowerment project, albeit limited to 1 day in 4 years  – is for women instead of men to propose marriage on this day.   This was in fact a church-sanctioned project that together with Valentine’s Day does put the Church into an early pro-family setting. I’m not expecting any such traditions in my life and doubt if in our retirement village there will be any wedding proposals.   Many European countries adopted this 29 February custom  and naturally it has grown to special celebrations too for leap year babies who only have a birthdays 1 in 4.   A very different initiative is from Taiwan where, I believe, a special pig trotter noodle meal is cooked for the elderly by their married daughters to wish them good luck.

February 28.  “Because there are so many single moms these days, surely it is OK for them to really look out for their kids and want the best for them, best school, nice clothes and toys.  That is a way they want to show their love.”  That is what a group of families discussed.   “Yes, but not forcing them to achieve beyond their potential and pushing them to the front. That is what Jesus said to the mother who wanted her sons to have special places in heaven.”  Maybe today he would have said, “I think, spending quality time with growing children is the 1st priority.”

Reflect, share, Scripture:  Jesus said, ‘you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever would  be great among you must be your servant.  The Son of man came not to be served but to serve’.  Read Matt 20:17-28    Pope Francis:  Parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption, which then affects their children, who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family.   Not thinking about the future is linked to our inability to broaden the scope of present interests and to give consideration to those who remain excluded from development, the poor of today and of the future. LS162.   Pray one of the Lenten prayers.:: for the families of today and their difficulties in bringing up children.  Choose appropriate action. LSAP 7 communion empowerment