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June 5—World Environment Day

June 1Celebrated in 100 countries, the UN’s World Environment Day calls all citizens of the world to raise awareness about the care of Earth. Further, it is a day to foster action to protect the environment. Earth is our mother. She sustains and protects us and all life on our planet. Sweden will host the World Environment Celebrations on June 5th. The theme is “Only One Earth: Living Sustainably With Nature.” This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1972 United Nations Conference on Human Environment. Today, earth is at a crossroads. Each of us and all of us together can make a difference. The Laudato Si Action Platform is an effort by the Catholic Church to engage the worldwide Catholic community in actions to protect and preserve earth, our common home. Let us join with people of good will everywhere in collective action for a flourishing future.

Holy One, we lift our voices to you in praise for the wonders of creation. We thank you, especially, for the air we breathe. Inspire us to action on behalf of Mother Earth and Sister Air. We know that this is a critical time during which we must lower CO2 emissions and toxic chemicals in the air. Now is also the time for increasing green spaces, protecting plants and trees that provide us with oxygen, and ending the use of fossil fuels. Help us to change our lives so that we and future generations can live healthy and sustainable lives.

June 8—World Oceans Day

June 2Oceans cover about two thirds of the earth’s surface. Oceans provide us with food, medicine, and most of the oxygen we breathe. The oceans are also critical to maintaining the Earth’s temperatures, including seasonal changes and its rain cycles. This year everyone is being encouraged to “Wear Blue, Tell Two”. In addition to wearing something blue on that day, we are to share two facts that we have learned about Earth’s oceans with someone else.

This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean”. One of the largest threats to our oceans is global climate change. Oceans are warming at an alarming rate and this can severely alter ocean currents, causing abnormal flood and draught cycles as well as increasing the rate of global warming. Plastic pollution in the oceans has also reached a critical level, killing fish, ocean mammals, and sea birds. As long as plastic production continues, pollution of the world’s oceans will increase, since plastic never disappears from the environment. It merely breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Elimination of single use plastics and recycling of plastics needs to become a universal priority.

Creator of life, we thank you for the oceans that team with life, regulate earth’s climate, inspire us with beauty and power, and sustain all living creatures. Open our hearts with a growing appreciation of how oceans affect all of us. Help us to care for the oceans by making sustainable living choices each day so that life can continue to flourish for generations to come.

 

June 12—World Day Against Child Labor

  

June 3World Day Against Child Labor aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030 and SDG target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labor by 2025.  It is said that “children should not work in fields, but on dreams.” And yet, over 150 million children in the world work in nearly all economic sectors, with over 70% working in agriculture. Most of these child laborers work in unsafe conditions, for little or no pay. Such practices rob children of their childhood—socialization, playing, going to school, getting adequate sleep and nutrition, and developing a sense of being loved and protected in a stable environment. The UN has made the protection of children from exploitation and child labor a top priority.

God, we ask you to bless all children around the world. Protect them from exploitation, abuse and fear. Give us the courage to step in whenever we know of a child being abused or neglected. Inspire people everywhere to cherish children, providing them with safety, caring, love, and compassion. May we provide them with education, nutrition, and stability, so that they may develop their full potential.

 June 17—World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

June 4World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) will be celebrated worldwide on the 17th of June. This day calls our attention to the rapidly expanding areas of drought across our planet. This is a result of climate change, poor farming methods, deforestation and resulting erosion, and ozone destruction exposing agricultural lands to increased drying effects of the sun. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15 states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.

Mother/Father God, we thank you for Mother Earth who sustains our lives. Help us to protect the land on which we grow our crops. Help us to treat agricultural land with respect, using sustainable, non-toxic methods to promote growth of the food that nourishes us. Expand our consciousness so that we conserve groundwater as much as possible. Help us to restore and protect native grasslands and woodlands that protect our lands from flooding that washes away topsoil and soil nutrients. Thank you for all the blessings of the land, the holy ground on which we live.

June 20—World Refugee Day

June 5The world refugee crisis continues to worsen as millions of people flee their home countries to escape violence, war, hunger and fear. In recent years, climate change refugees have had to relocate because their home communities have been inundated with sea water as sea levels rise. Many refugees leave their homes with virtually nothing as they “run for their lives”. Refugees can spend months or years in refugee camps that are unsafe, unsanitary, and overcrowded, as they await processing. They have little say as to what country they will eventually be resettled in. When they get there, most do not know the language of the receiving country and are often met with hostility and suspicion. On World Refugee Day we are all called to reach out to refugees in our communities, offering whatever support we can to ease their resettlement. All of us can do something—teaching them language, helping those in need to find a job, assisting children in registering for school and vaccinations, helping collect clothes or household items that refugees will need in their new homes or apartments. Most of all, we can offer our friendship, respect and welcome!

God, we ask you to protect all people who have to flee their homes in order to survive. Bless them on their dangerous journeys to safety. Once they make their way to our countries, help us to welcome them with open arms and open hearts. Move us to respond with respect and love to each refugee in our midst. Also, help us to work for just immigration and asylum policies in our own countries so that human rights are respected and international laws regarding refugees are enforced.

 

June 26—International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture

June 6Torture is an immoral act because it violates the dignity of the human person and causes irreparable harm to those who suffer torture. Torture attempts to deny the humanity of the victim, but in reality, it also robs the torturer of his/her humanity. On the International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture, the UN invites all of us to stand in solidarity with the thousands of victims of torture. Together, we join with people around the world to say “No” to torture and to actively reject any and all attempts to justify torture. Under international law, torture is never allowed under any circumstances. It cannot be justified even as a measure of last resort. Those guilty of torturing others must be prosecuted and those who suffer torture have a right to redress and compensation, including medical and psychological care. We must not send torture victims back to receive further torture. Instead, our asylum processes must find ways of eliciting the stories of torture from asylum claimants in ways that respect their experience and their difficulty in articulating what has happened to them.

God, prevent human beings everywhere from torture. Give us compassion, so that when we look into the eyes of another person we will see a brother or sister with the same feelings, hopes, dreams and needs as we have. Protect us as we call on governments around the world to reject all forms of torture, and all attempts to justify it. Let our hearts grow in compassion and respect for human dignity.

International Solidarity Days – May 2022

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May 1—International Workers’ Day

Workers Day 22International Workers’ Day is a special day to honor workers around the world as they continue to struggle for safe working conditions, a living wage, an 8-hour working day, respect and recognition for their contributions to the common good, and an end to child labor. Many workers also continue to struggle to organize themselves so that they can share their concerns with management and employers without retribution. Paid sick leave and job security following illness or on-the-job injury are still not available to many workers. Even in those countries where union organizing and workers rights have been enacted into law, efforts continue to try to roll back these hard won accomplishments. As Pope Francis says in his most recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti, the first step toward a more just economic system needs to be implementation of a living wage. This is defined as a wage that can support a worker and his/her family. Presently, many two-parent households require 2-3 jobs in order to make ends meet. This means that children are ofter unable to receive the parental attention that they need. It also means that adults are overworked, which affects their health and wellbeing.

God of justice, bless workers throughout the world whose labors contribute to building up communities and societies. Help us to recognize and affirm the dignity of every human being and the value of each person’s work, recognizing that they all contribute to the common good. As workers struggle to have a voice in their future, let us all stand in solidarity with one another as we insist that all workers receive a living wage, have safe working conditions, and be treated with respect.

May 15—The 91st Anniversary of Quadragesimo Anno

QA2022On May 15, 1931, Pope Pius XI published his encyclical Quadreagesimo Anno (QA) on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. These two encyclicals outlined the moral principles that should inform a just development of the social order that was emerging following the industrial revolution. In QA, Pope Pius XI addressed issues such as private property and the common good, the rights and responsibilities related to capital and labor, the right to work as a human right, and the right for workers to earn a living wage for themselves and their families. In our present world many countries have no minimum wage laws, or the legal minimum wage for workers is not a living wage capable of providing the worker and his/her family with the essentials of life. This encyclical continues to challenge us to address these and other issues. QA further highlighted the essential role of labor in creating capital, and capital’s essential role in creating flourishing economies. It also called on governments to ensure the common good by taxation and equitable redistribution of goods and services while building and maintaining infrastructures needed to support all members of society. The widening gulf between rich and poor highlights the failure of many societies to live up to these principles. In Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis builds upon these concepts when speaking of a just economy as foundational to human development. Economic systems have profound effects on quality of life. Economic justice is an essential element in Pope Francis’ concept of “integral ecology.” Caring for the environment and caring for the poor can only be achieved through economic justice.

Holy One, we pray for the poor and for creation, who suffer from what Pope Francis calls the globalization of indifference. Help us as we evaluate economic systems and our personal economic choices that contribute to destruction rather than to fullness of life. Bless our efforts to meet the needs of all, in order to create a flourishing future, now and for future generations.

May 21—Feast of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Jgersttter 22Franz Jägerstätter was born in Austria in the early years of the 20th century. Like St Francis, he had a rather wild youth, joining a motorcycle gang and often disturbing the peace of his little village. After marrying, he seemed to settle down, working as a farmer, studying scripture, and becoming a third order secular Franciscan. He took the Gospel and Franciscan message of non-violence to heart just as the Nazi party was coming to power in Germany. It was not long before the Nazis annexed Austria. Like many Austrians, he quickly learned of their activities and intentions. His commitment to Gospel values led him to refuse mandatory military service, which he saw as a form of complicity with the Nazi regime. In spite of having a wife and three daughters, he continued to follow his conscience. He was arrested and later beheaded for treason on August 9, 1943, at the age of 36. It is said that when his attorney advised him that other Catholics were serving in the army, Franz responded, “I can only act on my own conscience. I do not judge anyone. I can only judge myself.” He continued, “I have considered my family. I have prayed and put myself and my family in God’s hands. I know that, if I do what I think God wants me to do, he will take care of my family.” The story of his bravery and commitment to nonviolence has inspired many people over the years. His life and death remind us that the price of Gospel living can be great and may even cost us our lives. As we seek to be a blessing in the heart of the world, may we witness to God’s love and mercy through nonviolent presence.

Loving God, we pray for an end to injustice, intimidation, violence, and war. We recognize that lasting peace can only be achieved through dialogue, trust, understanding and love. As our world continues to witness brutality and suffering caused by violence, greed, fear, and intimidation, may we stand in solidarity with those who work for peace. May every person be recognized as our brother and sister. Grant us lasting PEACE!

May 22—International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity 22This year, the theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “Building a shared future for all life.” Biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges. It is the backbone to addressing climate change, sustainable agriculture, restoring clean air and water sources, and restoring the health of both plant and animal species on our planet. Fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people. Over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants. As many as 80 per cent of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare. But loss of biodiversity threatens all, including our health. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expanddiseases transmitted from animals to humans. On the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like those caused by coronaviruses. As biodiversity is protected and restored, the earth’s ecosystems will begin to recover and heal the planet. We are being urged to put nature at the center of sustainable development. While there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value now and to future generations, the number of species is being significantly reduced by certain human activities. Therefore, human activity can also reverse this trend.

For more information see “A Beginner’s Guide to Ecosystem Restoration” at www.unep.org/news-and-stories/beginners-guide-ecosystem-restoration

Creator God, inspire us to take immediate action to protect the wonderful biodiversity of our planet. We know that measures great and small can help restore the health of Mother Earth, which is home to so many creatures. As we celebrate this day dedicated to biodiversity, may we raise our voices in praise and rededicate ourselves to preserving, protecting, and honoring the marvelous diversity of your creation.

May 24—Seventh Anniversary of Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home

LaudatoSi 22Laudato Si’—On the Care of Our Common Home is the encyclical published in 2015 by Pope Francis. It is addressed to “every person living on this planet,” not merely to Catholics. It was clearly inspired by St. Francis, the patron of those who promote ecology, who called all creatures brothers and sisters. If we see ourselves as one with creation, our relationship with creation becomes personal, loving, respectful, open, grateful, and filled with wonder. We will no longer be able to see ourselves as “masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on our immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.” (Paragraph 11) Laudato Si’ calls us to a personal and communal conversion of heart, that moves us to action on behalf of our common home. Pope Francis invites us to examine our lives, to consider our environmental footprint, and to make the changes necessary to reestablish our right relationship with creation. Let us join with the entire worldwide community in this effort, recognizing that creation is a unique revelation of the divine presence which we are called to recognize, cherish, and protect.

God of all creation, you bless us with such wonderful gifts on this beautiful and life-filled planet. We praise you for the beauty, power, wonder, and love revealed in all that is. As we celebrate this 7th anniversary of Laudato Si’, inspire us to act boldly on behalf of Earth, our common home. Rooted in love, may we restore right relationships with creation and with one another as we create a flourishing future for ourselves and for future generations.

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