2024 is the 30th anniversary of the UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FAMILY. Its chosen theme FAMILIES AND CLIMATE.   Climate change would be meaningless without a focus on water.  St Francis in his Canticle of the Creatures, quoted frequently also in LAUDATO SI, speaks of Sister Water who is “very useful and humble and precious and chaste.  Possibly in other eras, but certainly in in our time we have a rather different image of this precious gift.  Either we have too much or not enough and seldom it appears to be in optimum supply. And yet it remains a vital and essential element for all life, all our bodies, human, animal and plant are around 60% water, and it covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface with 97% of the earth’s water being in the oceans.   Surely we should have learned how to manage it well by now as a basic right and so too a family right.

The UN celebrates World Water Day on 22 March and will present  a report about water’s present condition. The theme is Water for Peace. The many places worldwide and even locally where there is conflict over water supplies, distribution and who causes pollution are a call for efficient management and cooperation not just for ourselves and our own community but taking it beyond that level.

South Africa celebrates National Water Week from 20-26 March, as part of Human Rights month and including Human Rights Day. The SA theme – ironically  under the present circumstances in Gauteng – is Water for All.  Providing water for all, citizens but also other elements of creation, local and worldwide is not simple as water is not a solid and static and easily controllable resource. It flows, floods, pours, falls out of the sky, freezes and heats and runs where it will.  It can be pure and clean or polluted and unusable.  A highly enigmatic creature in God’s creation, employing its own God-given right, without which there would be no life for any family on earth.  Is it fair to make out as if it is a dangerous, destructive creature rather than one of the most life-giving and beautiful but abused of God’s creatures?  Can we worship it, or by appreciating its value worship its Creator? Pope Francis writes, “When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them.”  Laudato Si 87.   

Families caring for God’s creation,” is one of MARFAM’s publications. As families then what does it mean for us, its basic beneficiaries and users to co-exercise our right and to be “water wise?” Save it and store it, ration its use, such an attitude calls others too to responsibility.  What percentage of the municipal water goes to waste over the course of a year?   How much water is wasted and spoiled for everyone else by industry.   My contention is that families can and should take responsibility for all aspects of creation at a domestic level, in our own homes but industry, commerce, financial institutions and government too are all made up of family people too. How can you say to your children don’t waste water, and allow your company to pollute the stream into which your company’s chemicals run?  We need to advocate for effective water management and play an active role where we can.

With regard to IYF+30, Each year since 1994 a theme that is relevant has been chosen, e.g. urbanization, parenting, migration, new technology, intergenerational solidarity. The chosen theme for this special year is FAMILIES AND CLIMATE.

The Laudato Si Action Platform goals are good measuring sticks from both a practical and spiritual perspective and apply to the various sectors, MARFAM’S sector being the family sector.   So we reflect and act as families, for families, by families, to families and naturally with families too.  The goals are: The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Ecological education, economics and spirituality.  Towards sustainable living and community renewal.  

As we consider Human Rights as Family Rights and are nearing the end of Lent, with Holy Week and Easter to follow, water can be a relevant topic for reflection and action. The Washing of Feet is pause for reflection. The Easter Vigil has various references, the Israelities crossing the sea and their time in the desert lacking life-giving water until Moses calls on God and strikes the rock. The waters of Baptism at the Vigil Mass can also remind us of our own baptism and its significant call to be missionaries in our world.    Check out the website for Holy Week Family activities.

The time has arrived when conflicts and wars at all levels involve water for life.  Our call can be to look with family eyes, listen with family ears and speak out with family voices, thanking our Creator and committing to our own ecological conversion for Healthy Families and a Healthy Planet.    


March 20.    Priscilla asked, “Are there really still people who are so committed to their faith that they really think God will save them from harm?”  “Well isn’t that what martyrdom is?” “No, because martyrs die.” “We only hear about them because they die, like Benedict Daswa.  What about others?  Are Palestinian people in Gaza, some of whom are Christians while most are Muslims, praying to be safe, or are they just waiting to die? ”  “It must be a great challenge to their faith and trust in God, whichever God they believe in.”   “We need to pray much harder and fast this Lent, for a peaceful conclusion to that and all the current wars, like we did in the beginning and then we just seemed to gi8ve up.”    

Reflect, share. Scripture:  Read the relevant scripture passages. King Nebuchadnezzar said to Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. “When you hear every kind of music you must fall down and worship the image which I have made. If you do not you shall be case into a burning fiery furnace. They said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. If not, we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.  Daniel 3:14-28.   Pope Francis:  The heart of the Church is also full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them even dying a martyr’s death. The Synod for the Youth pointed out that many young saints in their day were prophets of change. Their example shows what the young are capable of when they open themselves to encounter Christ.   St Sebastian – Italy, St Joan of Arc – France, Bl Amdrew Phu Yen – Vietnam, St Kateri Tekakwitha – US, St Kizito – Uganda and many more were witnesses to Jesus. Pope Francis to the Youth. LSAP 6. Ecological spirituality. Fast and Pray a Lenten prayer for faith, courage and commitment by youth in our families, the Church and all Families of Creation. .  Choose appropriate action.