Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of May, 2018
May 1—International Workers’ Day
Often known as May Day, International Worker’s Day is celebrated on May 1st, an ancient European spring festival day. This day honors laborers and all members of the working class. The day was also chosen as a commemoration of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago on May 4, 1886 when 7 police and 4 civilians were killed and many more injured as laborers demonstrated for an 8-hour working day. The trade union and labour movements grew out of the reality of poor and dangerous working conditions, long hours worked with poor pay, and the reality that if a worker complained about hours or conditions he/she would be fired from the job without recourse. Since the late 1800’s, workers around the world have banded together in unions and other worker organizations so that they could work together to improve working conditions, pay, benefits such as healthcare and retirement payments, and the right to be paid for overtime work. Many of the laws protecting workers’ rights worldwide are a direct result of the efforts of trade unions and worker organizations.
Dear God, we thank you for the workers around the world who have stood up for their rights over the years to create a better world for themselves and their families. May each of us dedicate ourselves to protecting the rights of workers and all people seeking work. May we work hard to end all forms of forced, unpaid labor, which is a form of modern day slavery. Help us to recognize and report suspected human trafficking whenever we encounter it.
May 15—The 87th Anniversary of Quadragesimo Anno
On May 15, 1931, Pope Pius XI published his encyclical Quadreagesimo Anno on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. These two encyclicals address the emerging social realities of private property, the relationship between capital and labor, and the social order emerging out of the industrial revolution. Work is a human right by which human beings can support their families and contribute to the common good by using their talents and creativity as fully as possible. Capital is recognized as essential to flourishing economies, but the popes also recognized the importance of just compensation for labor, and labor’s role in the creation of capital. A just wage is a living wage, a wage adequate to sustain the worker and his/her family, by providing adequate food, shelter, education, and basic healthcare. Government is also seen as playing an important role in maintaining the common good by providing basic services to its people through taxation and redistribution of goods and services, as necessary for the overall wellbeing of society. Such cooperation between capital, labor and government still eludes us, but is an ideal worth striving for.
Let us pray for all of us, as we struggle to create a more just society. May those who labor be compensated, so that they can live in dignity and peace, without hunger, homelessness and despair. Inspire those who have much, to reach out to those in need, with generosity and love. Help us all to love and care for one another and for Earth.
May 21—Feast of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter
Memorial for Franz Jägerstätter in St. Radegund | photo by Sziklai
Franz Jägerstätter was a resister, who refused to participate in the evil of Nazi Germany. His conversion to Gospel non-violence as a young adult eventually led him to become a member of the Third Order of St Francis. Later, he married and was the sole supporter of his Mother, his wife and three daughters. As the Nazi threat grew in Germany, he came to realize the brutality and injustice of the Nazi leaders and refused to join the party. Later, when he was drafted into the German army he refused to serve even in a non-combat role, since even this would be a form of complicity with their goals. He was arrested, tried by a military court for undermining military morale, and executed on August 9, 1943 at the age of 33. Although many people, including Church leaders, tried to change his mind, Franz remained committed to peace, justice and non-violence in refusing military service.
Holy one, continue to inspire us to live Gospel non-violence no matter the cost. Fill us with courage to stand up against the forces of evil that use violence and intimidation for their own gain and power. Help us never to be silent in the face of injustice, but to speak out and stand up whenever and wherever we see suffering, violence, discrimination, hopelessness or despair.
May 22—International Day for Biological Diversity
On 22 May, 1992 the Nairobi conference on Biological Diversity agreed to adopt the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The convention was inspired by the world’s growing commitment to sustainable development. This year’s theme is Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity. Worldwide efforts to protect natural biomes and to preserve unique, diverse habitats throughout the world have been growing in recent years. Over the past 25 years great strides have been made to use conservation research to help humans understand how to live with nature in a sustainable way, thus ensuring the biological diversity necessary for the health of planet Earth. Although the extinction of species has slowed in the past 25 years, it is still occurring at alarming rates. Over 190 nations meet every 2 years to consider various aspects of biological diversity. Some of the past topics included: Marine and coastal biological diversity; Agricultural biodiversity; Inland water ecosystems; Dryland, mediterranean, arid, semi-arid, grassland and savannah ecosystems; Forest ecosystems; Alien species; Mountain ecosystems; Island biodiversity; Biological diversity of dry and sub-humid lands; Agricultural biodiversity; Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; Invasive alien species; Forest biodiversity.
God, you have blessed us in so many ways, especially with the many diverse gifts of your wondrous creation. Open our eyes and hearts to the greatness of creation and inspire us to respect and treasure all life on this living and breathing planet Earth.
May 24—Third Anniversary of Laudato Si: On the Care Of Our Common Home
Three years ago, Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si: On the Care Of Our Common Home. The Pope recognized the climate change crisis as the greatest threat facing the human race today. In Laudato Si he calls upon all of us to become aware of the many ways in which we live in a “throw-away culture” and to examine ways that we can change our lives and move towards a more sustainable lifestyle. The encyclical also challenges each of us to actively engage global decision-makers to take action to preserve and protect our environment for now and future generations.
Holy One, you call us to live responsibly on this beautiful planet Earth which we call home. As we admire the beauty and wonder of all that surrounds us, never let us take our home for granted. Help us to be thankful every day for the great gifts of nature and move us to take radical action now, so that we and future generations will be able to live in harmony with nature and with each other.