Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of July, 2018
July 11—World Population Day
June 11th, World Population Day, seeks to raise awareness of issues around world population. Today, Earth is home to over 7.6 billion people. In spite of the fact that the world’s population has grown by over 58.5 million people this year, the planet still is capable of producing more than enough food to feed the world’s population. With international cooperation, planning and coordination, hunger could be eliminated by the year 2030, as called for by the Sustainable Development Goals. However, wars and other conflicts hinder planting and harvesting of crops and hamper food distribution. Ending such conflicts are critical to addressing the needs of the world’s expanding population. As populations continue to grow, waste management worldwide is critical to protecting the environment. Caring for creation demands that we return to the use of biodegradable products and move away from the use of plastics and fossil fuels. It seems clear that the earth cannot sustain the level of population growth presently being seen and our Catholic Church has yet to address this growing critical issue. Although the “rhythm” method of family planning is approved by the Church, few people are educated about how to appropriately and effectively use this method. It is 75-87% effective when used correctly. Access to reproductive health education is a growing need worldwide and allows women to make a choice about how to address their health needs.
God, we thank you for the gift of life that we share with all creation. We rededicate ourselves to addressing the needs of the world’s ever-increasing population—the need for food, clean water and air, safe environments in which to plant, grow and harvest. Thank you for Mother Earth who sustains and provides for us. May we recognize your presence in one another and in all that you have made!
July 18—Birthday of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 in Mvezo, to the Thembu royal family. Educated as a lawyer, Mandela joined the struggle against apartheid in 1943. In 1964 he was sentenced to life at hard labor at the notorious Robben Island Prison in S Africa for attempted violent overthrow of the government. At his trial, Mandela said:
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live. But, my Lord, if it need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
From his prison cell he continued to work for an end to apartheid in S Africa. He came to realize that non-violence was the only route to lasting peace, and negotiated from behind bars for freedom and equality for all South Africans. After his release from prison he was successful at negotiating a formal end to apartheid and the creation of a democratic and free country. After an open and free political campaign, he was elected and inaugurated in 1994 as the first black president of South Africa. He became a symbol for people throughout the world who struggle for justice in the midst of oppression. His struggle also proved again that non-violent, peaceful transitions of power can lift up an entire country and make reconciliation possible.
Holy One, we commend to your love all those who suffer throughout the world from injustice, hatred, fear, and hopelessness. May we courageously and persistently work for peace and justice, no matter how far from reality it seems. Like Nelson Mandela, inspire us to hold on to what we know is right, to work for what we know is possible, and to create the world we wish to live in.
July 30—International Day of Friendship
The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between people, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. Forces of division often used to divide us from one another include nationalism, poverty, violence, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political affiliations, religion, educational level, and race. This day of international friendship is a day for tearing down those barriers that keep us apart. It is a day for getting to know others who are “different” from ourselves. Through creating these broadening relationships, we are able to learn to love and respect each other. By promoting a shared spirit of solidarity and strong ties of trust, we can create a world of peace, understanding, respect and cooperation.
God, we thank you for creating such a wonderful diversity in our human family. Help us to reach out in solidarity to one another, forging friendships across all barriers. Give us the grace to see what we share in common, rather than allowing ourselves to be divided by what is different. Help us to recognize that diversity is a gift, and that unity and solidarity strengthen us as we create harmony and build peace.
July 30—World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
On July 30th every year, the United Nations promotes World Day Against Trafficking Persons. Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labor and sex. It is a modern-day form of slavery. It is estimated that there are over 21 million people globally suffering from forced labor, many of them children. This number includes those forced into sexual exploitation. It is estimated that 71% of trafficking victims are women and girls. Trafficking occurs in every country and its victims are from every nation. The world migration crisis has also led to an increase in migrant smuggling and vulnerable people being held against their will in forced labor, particularly in the sex trade. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about this worldwide scourge. Citizens of every nation need to raise their voices to demand that governments work tirelessly to put an end to trafficking in persons. Perpetrators need to be arrested and held accountable, whether they are small time operators working only for themselves, or representatives working for large manufacturing or agricultural companies. This is also a day for each of us to learn to recognize signs of possible trafficking and report it to authorities for investigation. Many countries have trafficking hot lines (phone numbers) where suspicious observations can be reported.
Holy One we commend to your love and protection all those affected by human trafficking. May victims be comforted and restored to full freedom. May those who exploit others by force have their hearts opened and changed. May those who “benefit” from the suffering of others be overcome with remorse and regret. May all of us work to free those in bondage and help those in desperation. May we be alert to the signs of human trafficking and have the courage to report our concerns.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of June, 2018
June 5—World Environment Day
World Environment Day is the UN's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. The theme for 2018 is “Beat Plastic Pollution: If You Can’t Reuse It, Refuse It”. It is the same theme as this year’s Earth Day in April. This day reminds us that we can all do something to lessen plastic use, especially single use plastic which is symbolic of what Pope Francis calls our “throw away culture”. People are being mobilized worldwide to demand the end of single use plastic, plastic production and micro plastic use in cosmetics and many other products. Although plastics will eventually break down into micro plastics, they are not biodegradable and persist in the environment. They are responsible for the deaths of countless animals, particularly sea animals, who often mistake plastics for food. This year let us commit ourselves to lessening our use of plastics wherever and whenever we can. Simple measures such as using cloth bags instead of plastic ones, eliminating the use of straws and plastic cups, recycling plastics when possible, and encouraging product manufacturers to package their products in non-plastic containers will significantly reduce plastic pollution.
Creator God, we thank you for the wonders of creation. Nature’s beauty feeds our souls and calls us to treasure all that you have made. Help us to appreciate the environment and to care for Earth, our common home. Inspire us in our efforts to restore the health and balance within nature by being good stewards of the gifts with which you have blessed us.
June 8—World Oceans Day
Oceans cover about two thirds of the earth’s surface. Oceans are a critical part of earth’s biosphere and an essential element for food, security and life survival on the earth. The 2018 theme is “Take Action Against Plastic Pollution”.
World Oceans Day allows us to:
- Change perspective – encourage individuals to think about what the ocean means to them and what it has to offer all of us with hopes of conserving it for present and future generations.
- Learn – discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.
- Change our ways – we are all linked to, and through, the ocean! By taking care of your backyard and helping in your community, you are acting as a caretaker of our ocean. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends, and community will benefit our blue planet even more!
- Celebrate – whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean. Take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organize or participate in activities that celebrate our ocean.
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
World 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. Achieving these goals for the benefit of the next generation requires a concerted and integrated approach to eliminating child labor and promoting a culture that ensures that occupational health and safety standards are met.
All workers have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. Young workers (15-24 years old) suffer up to a 40 per cent higher rate of non-fatal occupational injuries than adult workers above the age of 25. In addition to injuries, the workplace hazards they face often put their health and very lives at risk. Children have the right to be protected from all forms of child labor, including hazardous work, which affects 73 million children worldwide. Child labor robs children of education, safety, health and their right to protection against exploitation. It robs them of their childhood itself!
Holy One, we ask you to protect all children from labor exploitation of all kinds. Help us to treat one another with respect and to honor the dignity of every human being, especially the children who depend on us for food, shelter, love and safety. Help us as we work tirelessly to promote the educational, physical and emotional wellbeing of children so that every child can develop fully into productive and caring citizens of the world.
June 17—World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
This day calls our attention to the rapidly expanding areas of drought across our planet. This year’s theme is: “Land has true value—invest in it!” Poor farming methods in many parts of the globe have robbed the soil of nutrients, turning once rich farmland into arid wastelands. Climate change is currently prolonging dry seasons and delaying the onset of rainy seasons in many agricultural countries, resulting in very short growing seasons, often insufficient for adequate food production. Deforestation of large woodland biomes has changed rainfall patterns, and has left the soil unprotected from soil erosion by wind and rain. Ozone layer destruction has contributed to desertification by over-exposing the land to relentless drying from the sun. World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) will be celebrated worldwide on the 17th of June with the focus on sustainable land management as a way to regenerate economies, create jobs and revitalize communities. Under the slogan “Land has true value – Invest in it,” WDCD 2018 will call all involved – producers, consumers and policy makers – to make a difference by investing in the future of land. These efforts, together with global efforts to address climate change, bring hope for the future of our planet.
Mother/Father God, we thank you for Mother Earth who sustains our lives. Help each of us to do our part to protect Earth by making the necessary life-style changes to reduce climate change, to conserve water and to live in a sustainable way that respects our planet.
June 20—World Refugee Day
Our world is facing a global refugee crisis on a scale not seen since World War II. War, violence, religious persecution, desperate economic conditions and climate change have driven millions of people from their homelands. Longing to find food, shelter and safetly, many of these refugees are greeted with suspicion, hostility and rejection instead. World Refugee Day is a day to raise awareness of the plight of refugees. It is a day to respond in love to the needs of our brothers and sisters around the world who have been forced to flee their homes in order to survive. It is a day to reach out to the refugees among us who are in need and to offer them hope, compassion, welcome and love.
God, we ask that you protect the millions of refugees around the world who have suffered so much that they have had to flee their homelands in order to survive. Open our hearts and our hands as we reach out to the refugees in our midst. Let us not turn away, but rather, inspire us to look each other in the eyes and respond in love. Help us all to learn from one another.
June 26—International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture
This day is dedicated to all who have endured unspeakable and unimaginable torture. It is a day that calls all citizens of the world to find their voices and to raise a united cry of “No More Torture!” Torture denies the inherent dignity of the human person and is illegal under international law. Despite this, torture is a widespread practice around the world. With one voice, the people of the world need to condemn torture, and declare once and for
all that torture cannot ever be justified. Furthermore, those who have suffered torture have a right to have their cases brought forward so that those engaged in torture can be held accountable and so that victims can receive effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate social, psychological, medical and other forms of rehabilitation.
Holy One, you have made every person with an inherent dignity and sacredness. Teach us to treat each other with empathy, respect and compassion. Whenever we know of torture, disrespectful or inhumane treatment of others, may we raise our voices in protest and take action to stop it. Let us never condone torture by our silence. Give us the courage we need to stand up against torture and to demand an end to its use.