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.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of April, 2018
April 4—International Day of Landmine Awareness & Assistance in Mine Action
This day aims to raise awareness about landmines and to make progress toward their eradication. In many countries, landmines pose a continuing risk to life and limb, long after wars and conflicts have ceased. For children playing, farmers planting or harvesting their fields and people traveling along the side of the road, buried explosive devices can change life forever. In such areas of the world, educational awareness is critical to keeping civilians as safe as possible. This day also includes advocating for universal participation in international treaties related to landmines, for removing explosive remnants of war and aiding their victims, and destroying landmines stockpiled by governments and non-state armed groups. The international community has banded together to try to detect and eliminate landmines and other explosives through the mine-action initiative. According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2005, 84 countries were affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance, which together kill or maim between 15,000 and 20,000 adults and children annually. The UN works together with countries to find and destroy these devices. It also helps to provide various mine-action services in many countries. This effort was of special interest to Princess Diana of Great Britain, and now her sons have continued to raise funds and advocate for an end to the use of landmines and to removal of existing ones.
God of peace, transform our hearts as we seek to build a world of peace, where each human life is treasured and protected from violence. Help us to courageously demand an end to the production, use and possession of landmines, that kill and maim so many people. Let us build a world where all weapons of war are seen as inhumane and help us to turn to peaceful means of resolving conflicts.
April 7—World Health Day
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Through this year’s theme “Health For All”, the WHO is calling on governments throughout the world to honor the pledges they made when they supported the Sustainable Development Goals of 2015. One goal aims at providing access to affordable basic healthcare for all people by the year 2030. At this time, about half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. Health costs have pushed about 100 million people into poverty. The call is for governments everywhere to move toward universal healthcare coverage for all. Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality. Every person has a human right to access services that help to maintain good health and treat basic, treatable illnesses.
Holy One, we pray for people throughout the world who do not have access to affordable basic healthcare. Help us to continue to advocate for universal healthcare access where it does not exist and to strive to eradicate hunger, poverty and war which make good health delivery impossible.
April 11—Holocaust Remembrance Day (begins at sunset)
The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to remember the victims of Nazi extremism and genocide, and to dedicate ourselves to building a world free from antisemitism, racism, discrimination and intolerance of diversity. This year’s theme “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility” underlines the continued duty to learn about and remember the Holocaust. Unfortunately, such atrocities continue to happen. Remembering is the first step in the continuing effort to ensure that such violence and genocide will not be repeated. It is also essential that we study the causes and long-term consequences of such violence, both to individuals, families, towns and cities, and nations. We, the people of the world, must never allow this to happen. We must never be silent in the face of hate speech or hate policies.
God of peace and justice, open our hearts in love and care for one another. Give us the courage to stand up for one another in the face of discrimination, antisemitism or intolerance. Help us to find our voice, so that we are never complicit through our silence.
April 12—International Day For Street Children
This day provides a platform so that street children can speak out and demand that they be listened to. It is a day to remind governments that they have a special responsibility to protect and provide for children who are deprived of a family environment. These children have a right to an adequate standard of living—to food, shelter and safety, so that they can survive. Children are the future for any country, and each person has a precious and unique contribution to make to their society. Education is also needed for any child to reach his or her full potential. The best way to meet the needs of street children is to listen to them, so as to better understand where they come from, how they have had to survive and what services could help them claim their future with dignity.
Let us pray for street children throughout the world. God, protect these children who so often have had to fend for themselves. Protect them from those who would take advantage of their vulnerability. Open our hearts and our hands to help in whatever way we can. Let us not be afraid to reach out in love and kindness. Help us to see and respond to those in need.
April 22—Earth Day and April 23—International Day of Mercy
The 2018 Earth Day theme is: "End Plastic Pollution-Be the Change." Plastic pollution is artificially damming up streams and rivers and contributing to flooding during heavy rains in many parts of the world. Plastics are also killing marine life in our oceans and rivers and washing up on beaches thousands of miles from their point of origin. Plastic is overwhelming our landfills and because they are not biodegradable, are threatening the survival of our planet. This Earth Day, let us each take concrete steps to stop plastic pollution. The first step is using less plastic—refusing to buy plastic water bottles and using re-usable containers for carrying water; recycling plastic bottles, containers and bags; using cloth bags for shopping. Another step is actively participating in clean-up efforts at local rivers, streams and even street sides. We must lead by example and teach future generations to reject plastic and demand biodegradable containers rather than plastic.
God, we ask forgiveness for our throw away culture and our personal throw away habits. We commit ourselves to continue to find ways to reduce our use of plastics. What we do use, we commit ourselves to recycling rather than discarding plastic into our environment. We also commit ourselves to caring of Mother Earth in ways great and small, so that we and future generations can live healthy lives in harmony with creation.