Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of January, 2019
January 1—World Day of Peace
The World Day of Peace was introduced by Pope Paul VI in 1967, inspired by the encyclical Pacem in Terris. This year’s theme is: Good Politics at the Service of Peace. In many parts of the world, this day has become an interfaith day of prayer for peace. Violent conflict has greatly contributed to the global refugee crisis and has caused untold suffering for millions of people. It is a recognized fact that the world cannot hope to fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals unless and until global peace can be restored. War and violence make it impossible to restore and develop agriculture, deliver healthcare and disease prevention efforts, ensure children’s education, secure equal rights for women and enforce laws against child labor and human trafficking. This day we call upon all people of the world to stand up against war and violent conflict as a way of addressing international differences. We know that lasting peace can only be achieved through non-violent, active peacemaking. We must call upon our elected leaders to engage in and invest in open dialogue with neighbors and so called “enemies” so as to come to a peace built on open listening, understanding, empathy and respect for diversity. We must demand that our political leaders invest in nonviolent peacemaking—if even one tenth of the money that presently is spent on weapons and efforts of making war was spent on nonviolent peacemaking, success would be assured.
Merciful God, open our heart to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of all those who are suffering as a result of violence and war. Help us to turn from weapons and war-making towards active non-violence and peacemaking. We join our prayers with the prayers of people from all nations and all religions as we pray for the wisdom, courage and creativity that peacemaking requires. Help us to truly listen to one another so that we may be enlightened by understanding and compassion.
January 15—Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States honoring the achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr., the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement to end racial segregation and injustice. His life has inspired people around the world who long for justice and peace to courageously strive for these goals through active non-violence. Although his life was threatened many times, he never wavered in his commitment to peaceful resistance to injustice. He worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination in all aspects of life in the United States, including discrimination in housing, employment, education, voting, where a person could eat or drink, etc. He spoke out against war, which he knew was incapable of creating lasting peace and in which the poor suffered the most. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee where he was joining sanitation workers demanding safer working conditions and a living wage. His commitment to the non-violent struggle for peace and justice continues to inspire millions of freedom seekers across the globe.
Holy one, we thank you for the gift of Martin Luther King Jr. He continues to inspire us to action and his life gives us renewed hope. Bless us as we continue to work for a just and peaceful world through peaceful actions of solidarity with those suffering from discrimination and injustice. Open our eyes so that we can see. Open our ears to hear. Open our hearts so that we can respond with courage and generosity.
January 27—International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust
This day is called the International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust and is held on the date when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945. The day commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 5 million Slavs, 3 million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. On this day we are encouraged to remember and recount the stories of what happened as a result of bigotry, racism, prejudice and hatred. Unfortunately, these powerful forces are still with us and must be guarded against and condemned. Silence in the face of such attitudes and violence is not an option. As the last of the holocaust survivors die, their stories are being recorded and preserved in holocaust museums in many countries so that we will never forget. This day, let us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that such horrors will never again be allowed to happen.
God, we pray for all victims of genocide, hatred, bigotry and racism. Give us the compassion and courage to speak out and take action so that such horror can never happen again. Help us to treat one another with respect, dignity and reverence.
January 28—World Leprosy Day
World Leprosy Day is held on the Sunday nearest to January 30th, to raise consciousness about leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease. This date is the death anniversary of Gandhi and was chosen because Gandhi understood well the stigma and marginalization that people over the centuries have suffered because of this illness. He struggled tirelessly to eradicate the stigma associated with this disease, which for centuries added to the suffering of those afflicted. This year World Leprosy Day is January 27th.
This year we call on governments and aid organizations to dedicate more resources to combatting this disease and the stigma still faced by those who suffer from this illness. Greater educational efforts are needed to promote early diagnosis in the countries who still have significant numbers of new cases each year, so that this potentially curable disease can to treated before permanent disfigurement results. Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy is still feared in many parts of the world and people are often shunned if they reveal that they suffer from this illness. With early treatment, cure is now possible, and victims can live normal, healthy lives. When left untreated, however, patients can suffer severe disabilities and disfigurement which can severely impact their quality of life.
Divine healer, we thank you for all the advances that medicine has made in the past many decades in treating leprosy. As we work to make more resources available for treatment, early diagnosis and education about this disease, help us to also support those suffering illness and stigma because of leprosy. We pray that all who are suffering will have the support and access to treatment that can enable them to live normal and healthy lives.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of December, 2018
December 1, 2018 marks the 30th global World AIDS Day, to raise awareness about the continued epidemic, to unite together against the virus, to commemorate those who have died and to show support for the over 34 million people currently living with HIV worldwide. The red ribbon is worn by people all over the world as a symbol of awareness and support of people living with HIV and AIDS. It was created when HIV was highly stigmatized, and the suffering of communities and individuals living with HIV remained largely hidden. This symbol helped bring HIV into the public consciousness and has led to better medical care, less discrimination against those living with the virus, increased support for those working to find a cure, widespread prevention education and voluntary testing programs, and a recognition that HIV ultimately affects us all. As we continue to support treatment, prevention and testing efforts, may all of us continue to reach out to those infected and affected, that they may experience with love, dignity and hope.
Holy One, bless all those who suffer due to HIV and AIDS. Help us to reach out to them and to show them that they are not alone. May we offer our love and support in whatever ways we can. Bless those who are working hard to find a means of prevention and cure. Bless those who dedicate themselves to education and HIV testing so that the spread of the virus can be stopped and early treatment can help people live healthy and productive lives. We pray for a world free from HIV/AIDS.
December 3—International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 3 is a day for raising awareness of, and helping to create real opportunities for, people living with disabilities. This year’s theme is: Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. Unfortunately, in many places in the world people with disabilities are shunned and excluded from participating in civil society. Even when not overtly shunned, those who are physically limited often face barriers to their participation. Society limits itself whenever any member of society cannot participate to his or her fullest potential. This day calls all of us to listen to persons with disabilities, to see what limits them and how we can improve their participation. People with disabilities face negative stereotypes, difficulty communicating, and physical, social and other barriers that prevent them from learning, living, working, and playing in their communities. Together, we can create inclusive communities where people with disabilities can be healthy and lead full, active lives.
God, we thank you for health, life and love. We know that while each of us has limitations, some people with physical disabilities struggle daily to participate in even the ordinary activities of life. Help each of us to listen to our disabled brothers and sisters, so that we can all become more aware of their needs. Open our heart to respond generously so that we can remove barriers to participation whenever we become aware of them. Bless us with growth in awareness so that we can all work together for the common good.
December 9—International Anti-corruption Day
Corruption involves an abuse of entrusted power by dishonest or unethical conduct that leads to personal gain. It takes many forms: intimidation, especially of those without power, in order to hold onto power; bribery; corruption of the electoral systems; silencing of whistle blowers; lawbreaking without having to face consequences because of one’s power position within the community; etc. It undermines social and economic development. Corruption affects all countries of the world, undermining moral integrity and destroying honesty and loyalty. This day calls people around the world to reject corruption wherever it is found in their communities. By making this way of acting unacceptable, and by refusing to cooperate with corruption, ordinary people can again begin to take control of their lives and to build a society of integrity and justice.
Lord, help us to create just societies where every person is equal under the law and where each person’s dignity and safety is protected by just laws. Help us to confront corruption and give us the courage to refuse to participate in it. Let us each work for the common good, so that all may be able to live in freedom.
December 10—Human Rights Day
This day marks the culmination of a year-long celebration in the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This document powerfully declared that all persons, by virtue of their inherent human dignity, have certain rights and freedoms, including a right to education, a decent living, health care and a right to live free from any form of discrimination. This declaration of human rights was built on what were recognized as universal human values, to be honored by all nations. Although we are still far from realizing the ideals set forth in this declaration, it still stands as a beacon guiding all nations towards peace with justice based on its principles. The very existence of this document calls all of us to strive for its fulfillment. It also demands that we constantly re-examine ourselves and our national and international structures and priorities to see how to move forward in a way that better embodies the hopes and aspirations expressed therein.
We pray for all people of the world. May all of us respect and support one another, realizing that we are all brothers and sisters. Help us to honor and safeguard the dignity and freedom of every person. May we work every day to protect and cherish the rights and freedoms that we have and that all of us desire. Give us the insight and wisdom to move forward each day on the path of peace with justice.
December 18—International Migrants Day
On December 18, 1990, the General Assembly adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. Migrants often flee their own countries in a desperate search for safety and a way to feed their families. For the most part, they seek stability, safe from fear and intimidation, shelter, food, water and a future of hope. Although they frequently face many obstacles when they settle in a new country, they also contribute culturally, economically and socially to their host country. Globally, migration has become a growing problem, due to wars, drug and gang violence, political oppression, drought and flooding due to climate change, and religious persecution. Rather than welcoming the stranger, many countries have retreated into a globally rising nationalism that demonizes migrants as “the other”, stoking fear, mistrust and hatred leading to violence. International Migrants Day serves to celebrate the movement of migrants and their contribution to world development. Globalization has made the world a much smaller place than it previously was. Humans have always migrated but now they do so much faster and much further, many of whom risk their lives trying to reach a safer land with more opportunities. On this day, we are called to join together to protect the rights of migrants, helping them in their journey and to settle in their new countries in order to find hope and peace.
Holy One, we pray for your protection and blessing on migrants throughout the world. Keep them safe from exploitation and abuse. Help them to find the work, housing, nutrition and healthcare that they need to support themselves and their families. Help us to open our hearts and our homes to welcome the stranger in our midst, in whatever ways we can. Give hope to those who feel lost and hopeless. Give joy to the sorrowing and security to the vulnerable. Most of all, make me a channel of your peace, understanding and love.
December 20—International Human Solidarity Day
International Human Solidarity Day is a day dedicated to celebrating unity in diversity. Solidarity is one of the fundamental human values and it is what underpins all international cooperation. At a time when climate change threatens to destroy our planet as a place suitable for human habitation, solidarity is essential, since we are all in this together. This example of climate change has opened our eyes in a new way to the power of solidarity. Solidarity among grassroots people also recently brought about the signing of the international agreement outlawing nuclear weapons. Even though no nuclear nations signed on to this agreement, it was supported by 191 other nations, showing that solidarity on this issue will eventually be successful at bringing about an end to nuclear weapons. When the people of the world stand united, we can accomplish great things.
International Human Solidarity Day is:
- a day to celebrate our unity in diversity
- a day to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements
- a day to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity
God, we ask that you bless all your people throughout the world in their desire for justice, peace, freedom and protection of the environment. Inspire us as we listen deeply to one another and build solidarity among us so that together we can face the many challenges of our global community.
In this Season of Peace, may we dedicate ourselves anew
to peace, solidarity, justice, compassion and love.