Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of February, 2019
February 6—International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
February 6th is a day to promote the UN’s campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This practice is found mostly in Middle Eastern and African countries, although global migration due to climate change and violence has seen significant emergence of FGM in many other places as well. On February 6, 2003, Stella Obasanjo, the then First Lady of Nigeria and spokesperson for the Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation, made the official declaration on "Zero Tolerance to FGM" in Africa during a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights adopted this day as an international awareness day. There is a growing awareness that FGM can lead to serious physical and psychological injury to women and girls that can be lifelong. This is a day to work on dispelling the myths associated with this practice. For more information about the myths
Holy One, we recognize that we are created in your image. Our bodies are sacred, and every part of our bodies are to be cherished and cared for. Help us to treat our bodies as vessels of the divine. Let us work ceaselessly to end all forms of violence against women and girls and help us dispel the myths that enable the perpetuation of the practice of FGM.
February 8—International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking
The theme for this day in 2019 is “Together Against Human Trafficking”. Today, millions of people are suffering after being sold into modern forms of slavery. Sex trafficking and forced labor trafficking are seen in every country. Although many trafficking victims are women and girls, men and boys can also be trafficking victims. It affects over 300,000 children worldwide, and many industries rely on unpaid or under paid forced child labor. The poor and immigrants are most vulnerable, since they are often promised well-paying jobs to help support their families if they put their trust in a trafficker. Human trafficking violates the sanctity, dignity, and fundamental rights of the human person. Through coercion, deceit, or force, they are trapped in jobs and situations from which they cannot escape. This day is celebrated each year on the feast day of Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child, sold into slavery in the Sudan and in Italy, eventually granted her freedom, and then became a nun who dedicated her life to comforting the poor and suffering.
O God, bless all those who are suffering as modern-day slaves controlled by human traffickers. Help them to reach out in hope for help. Open our eyes to see victims of trafficking that we may encounter, so that we can respond to their need by reporting suspicious situations. Help us to recognize sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking and all other forms of coercive behavior as a violation of human rights, immoral, and sinful. Change the hearts of all those who profit from human trafficking so that they will free those in captivity and live lives of respect for human dignity.
February 11—World Day of the Sick
The World Day of the Sick was instituted in 1993 by Pope John Paul II and celebrated on the feast day of Lourdes. It is a day to pray for all those who suffer from illness or injury. It is also a time to pray for those who work to alleviate pain and suffering, to treat illness, and to restore health. It is also a time to advocate for access to universal healthcare so that all those who are suffering from injury or illness can get the help they need to live productive and happy lives. It is a time to promote wellness, and to thank God for all health.
For Pope Francis’ address for 2019 World Day of the Sick go to:
God of wholeness, healing and compassionate care for all of us, bless us with good health. For those suffering pain, bring them peace and comfort. For those who are ill, soothe their suffering and restore them to health. We pray also for the terminally ill, that they may be blessed as they let go of life on earth and prepare to enter into eternal life with you. Relieve any fear or anxiety and give them hope-filled anticipation for the life to come.
February 20—World Day of Social Justice
Social Justice is the underlying principle that makes peaceful, respectful and cooperative coexistence among nations possible. It includes fair globalization, including fair trade and working conditions to avoid human exploitation. Catholic Social Teaching, as outlined and summarized in the documents of Vatican II and in many of the “social encyclicals” such as Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, Pacem in Terris, Populorum Progressio, and most recently Laudato Si, addresses seven areas of social justice: Life and Dignity of The Human Person--Call to Family, Community, and Participation—Human Rights and Responsibilities--Option For The Poor and Vulnerable--The Dignity of Work and The Rights of Workers—Solidarity--Care For God's Creation.
By incorporating Gospel values and Christ’s life of service to, and lifting up of, the poor and suffering we seek to care for earth and the poor, while changing structures that promote destruction of the earth and suffering of the poor. This day is dedicated to what Pope Francis calls “integral ecology”. The suffering of creation and the suffering of the poor are one. We cannot care for creation if we do not also care for the poor. Peace will not reign on earth until justice is established. Our call today is to pray for, speak out for and act on behalf of justice.
Holy One, we pray that peace based on justice will grow throughout the world. Open us so that we can respond with compassion, love, and solidarity for the good of creation and for the poor among us. Help us to grow in awareness of the cry of the poor and the cry of creation, so that we are moved to respond with generosity. Bless us as we seek justice for all!
February 23—International Stand Up to Bullying Day
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both those who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power: Those who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
- Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
International Stand Up to Bullying Day is a day when people are urged to where pink shirts to indicate solidarity in their stance against bullying. The wearing of the pink shirts initially served as a non-confrontational way to signal to victims of bullying that the wearer was a person they could turn to for help and support. Now it is worn on this day as a sign that we will no longer stand aside in silence when someone is suffering bullying. This day occurs twice a year, on the last Friday in February and the third Friday of November.
God, we ask that you bless us with courage as we seek to confront and stop bullying. Help us to refuse to be silent when witnessing bullying, but to step forward in a loving and respectful way to put an end to it. We ask that you comfort those who suffer from bullying so that they will not sink into despair, loneliness and hopelessness. Let our love, respect, compassion and determination support those who are bullied, so that they may be restored to wholeness.
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.