INTRODUCTION TO DAILY THOUGHTS 2021.   The theme for the year allows family life and creation to be foundational topics as they are used month by month on the Year Planner and it opens possibilities for formation and catechesis, reflection and sharing also including Franciscan spirituality.  Pope Francis offers many resources for the Church on current and relevant topics especially giving special prominence to Laudato Si and Amoris Laetitia on their 5th anniversaries and also instituting a Year of St Joseph. These are used within the DAILY THOUGHTS.  The small booklet gives more detailed explanations for each month.     

JANUARY.   “In the beginning……” are the first words of our Bible. In the beginning before the world, the sun, moon, stars, animals, plants and humankind were created there was only God. But God had a passion to create, to share, to love and so every created thing came into being.  The desire for creation, co-creation and re-creation exists in every creature and so our world has evolved. Humankind was given the task of being stewards of creation. That includes responsibility for our own families.  But has humankind gone too far, and overridden the role of creator out of love and begun to create for our own selfish ends? How can we discern our impact on creation in the coronavirus and climate change era and begin once more in every area of our lives?

The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain in their own symbols and narrative language profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth. These three vital relationships have been broken both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. LS 66.  As never before in history common destiny begs us to seek a new beginning.  Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life. LS207 Earth Charter.

SETTING THE SCENE. These DAILY THOUGHTS are set in an imaginary parish where the parish priest Fr Brian is promoting a family programme of faith sharing at home. This is the format. 1. Each day could have a story of a different family, 2. linked with the passage from the scripture of the day, 3. a quotation from Pope Francis’ documents. 4. Lastly the family or other group is invited to share their thoughts with one another and make any decisions about a plan of action.  Chosen scripture readings this month are mainly from the first letter of John and gospel of Mark

FEBRUARY THEME : LOVE GIVES FAMILIES LIFE.

OVERVIEW: God, the creator, is a lover and it is God’s love that is life-giving, creating life continually, sustaining and renewing what has been created.  Our task and gift as human beings and life-givers is co-creation with God in the conception, bearing and nurturing of children and in maintaining loving relationships.   God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross.  The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan.  (cf Mt 13:3)  AL62.

Our life-giving task is to nurture life in all its stages from conception until natural death.  However, we know from experience how vulnerable life and love can be.  It might be true to say that if there is no true love expressed as a deep concern for others in our families and for the common good, life does continue, but not as Jesus said,  “I have come  that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10. Loving human relationships of commitment and care are mirrored and carried forward in care for creation.  Caring for rhinos and yet rejecting unborn human life and the needs of the destitute and poor is not fully lifegiving.  Reflecting on St Francis Pope Francis wrote: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.”

Abbreviations:  LS = Laudato Si.  AL = Amoris Laetitia. EG = Evangelii Gaudium  GE = Gaudete et Exultate.  FT = Fratelli Tutti

Setting the Scene:  February is celebrated widely as the month of love and so for these Daily Thoughts an imaginary parish family team will be used to lead the reflections with others of the PPC and the parish priest.   Thoughts and suggestions will include families as well as creation and nature.

DAILY THOUGHTS FOR LENT AND EASTER will take over from Ash Wednesday on 17th February with the theme LOVE IS HIS LAW, LOVE IS HIS WAY and a stronger focus on OUR WORLD, A FAMILY OF FAMILIES and St Francis.

MARCH THEME: FAMILY RIGHTS

OVERVIEW: Among the many rights that we have, the right to life should be paramount, and in some form it is enshrined in most Constitutions, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Church’s Charter of Family Rights and our South African Constitution.  All human life, as individuals, also as men and women as well as family units, is precious from the first moment of existence until natural death.

Concern for animal and plant life and rights has become a growing concern and “extinction means forever” is a true consequence of lack of care and commitment.  A culture of life approach should not only focus on rights from the perspective of justice, but also of love and positive relationships.  All of creation should be interrelated.  We speak of the “butterfly effect.”  As an example, when a butterfly flaps its wings in far-away Dublin the energy it sets in motion can result in a tornado in Pietermaritzburg, half way across the world. The right to protection of life, in all forms and all its stages, as a universal right is still far from being realized today.

Pope Francis: Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person endowed with basic and inalienable rights.  It calls for the welfare of society, social peace, stability and security provided by a certain order. LS 155.  The rights of some to free enterprise and market freedom cannot supersede the rights of peoples and the dignity of the poor, or respect for the natural environment, for to make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. FT 122 

Setting the Scene. March is Human Rights month in South Africa and for the DAILY THOUGHTS an imaginary parish family team will be used to lead the reflections for parish families with other members of the parish council and the parish priest. The DAILY THOUGHTS are usually built around a scripture reading for the day.