Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of October, 2017
October 1—International Day of Older Persons
This day calls attention to the urgent need for addressing the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights of older persons. In addressing human rights concerns and sustainable development, many governments have not addressed the unique issues of importance to elders. This year’s theme is : “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society”. It underscores the link between tapping the talents and contributions of older persons and achieving the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which is currently undergoing its third review and appraisal process. Between 2015 and 2030, the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, the number persons over the age of 60 worldwide will increase by 56 per cent — from 901 million to more than 1.4 billion, and will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24. Including elderly persons in the economic, social, political and cultural life of the community involves access to ongoing education, transportation, technology, and overcoming barriers and discrimination that serve to them from participation. It also means that the elderly must have adequate financial support and access to healthcare so that they can live in dignity and can remain active and healthy enough to contribute their wisdom and experience to their families and communities.
For more information click on: https://www.un.org/development/desa/ageing/international-day-of-older-persons-homepage.html
Holy One, we thank you for the treasure of having elders in our midst whose life experience can be a source of wisdom for their families and communities. Bless the elderly poor, who struggle just to survive. Inspire young people to care for elders in their communities so that they can live in safety and dignity.
October 2—International Day of Non-Violence
On the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the world joins together in raising awareness about the power of non-violence to create the world that we desire. Gandhi’s life reminds us that non-violence begins in our own hearts, where we cultivate inner peace. This is what then allows each of us to walk in peace through life, even in the face of violence. Love and peace have the power to change the world, as evidenced by Gandhi’s non-violent struggle for India’s independence, the non-violent struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the civil rights struggle in the USA. This day is dedicated to educating and fostering non-violence throughout the world.
God, today, in a special way, we pray for peace in our hearts and peace on our planet. Help us to cultivate and to know the depth of peace that dwells deep within us and to manifest that peace to all those we meet on life’s journey. Let the Gospel message of love take root within us so that even in the face of violence, we can continue to be a presence of peace.
October 4—Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi was born around 1181 and died on October 3, 1226. He was a man of peace and non-violence, compassion, joy and love. He lived in poverty because he wanted nothing to separate him from other people. He saw everyone and all of creation as one. Today, he is known as the patron saint of peace and non-violence, as well as the patron saint of ecology. As Pope John Paul II wrote on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990, the saint of Assisi "offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation ..." He went on to make the point that: "As a friend of the poor who was loved by God's creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord.” The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples."
Holy One, we praise you in and with all creation. You are love, life, joy, peace and all good! Help us to manifest your divine presence through our lives, as did Francis. Help us to live simply, in harmony with one another and with Earth. Inspired by Francis, may we cultivate peace in our hearts so that our lives will be lives of non-violent action, bringing hope and healing to our world.
October 10—World Day Against the Death Penalty
This year marks the 15th World Day Against the Death Penalty. The worldwide movement to abolish the death penalty has swept across the globe in recent years. In 1977, only 16 countries had completely abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes. Today, 141 nations have eliminated the death penalty, either in law or in practice. In all nations that still execute offenders for certain crimes, economic and social factors make the poor much more likely to be subject to the death penalty. For example, in the United States in 2007, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, 95% of people on death row have disadvantaged economic backgrounds. However, the momentum toward elimination of the death penalty continues even in the United States. Five states carried out executions in 2016, taking the lives of 20 people. This was the lowest number of executions recorded since 1991. 19 states have abolished the death penalty; 31 retain it. Of these, 4 states have established official moratoriums on executions. The federal authorities have not carried out any executions since 2003 and the military authorities since 1961.
The death penalty in practice:
• 104 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes
• 7 countries have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes
• 30 countries are abolitionist in practice
• 57 countries continue to have the death penalty in law
• 23 countries carried out executions in 2016
• In 2016, the top five executioners were China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
We pray for our world that all nations will ban the death penalty. Help us to recognize that government-sanctioned killing and the practice of torture is a violation of human rights and a denial of human dignity. God, bless all those who have been victims of violent crime as well as those living under sentence of death. Comfort, heal, and forgive us all and restore us to right relationship with one another and with you. As followers of the Gospel, we commit ourselves to promoting compassionate alternatives to the death penalty, including restorative justice and funding for victims’ services.
October 13—International Day of Disaster Reduction
The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) encourages every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations. IDDR also involves efforts at prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Development policy must include measures to protect people from natural disasters. Allowing large cities to be built in low lying areas that are prone to flooding near coastal areas at a time of rising sea levels due to global climate change almost certainly increases the risk of catastrophic consequences in the future. Planning appropriate drainage systems and preserving protective ecosystems when constructing communities is essential to preserving the environment as well as preventing flooding. Proper building design and technology can mitigate damage and injuries in earthquake prone areas. It is urgent that this information be shared as in integral part of technical international cooperation, bearing in mind the needs of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries. Hurricane and tsunami warning systems are only effective if accompanied by adequate communication systems, evacuation plans and public education. International cooperation is also essential when unpredictable natural disasters such as earthquakes happen, so that search and rescue teams and relief supplies can be mobilized and delivered to stricken areas in a timely manner. Ultimately, reducing carbon emissions and global climate change is critical for disaster reduction.
Holy one, we thank you for the wonder of creation. We ask you to give us wisdom, that we might live in harmony with creation. May we always respect the power of nature and honor our place within it. May we work to support each other in times of natural disaster, and may we always put nature and human life ahead of economic and commercial concerns in seeking to prevent, mitigate, prepare for and respond to natural disasters. May we always respond with generosity to those suffering loss and hardship.
October 15—International Day of Rural Women
International Day of Rural Women recognizes the role of women in enhancing agriculture and rural development, improving food security and eradicating poverty worldwide. The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. It was suggested that October 15 be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” which is the eve of World Food Day, to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” was previously celebrated across the world for more than a decade before it was officially a UN observance. Rural women make up about a quarter of the world’s population and produce about half of the world’s food, yet they own only 1 percent of the land. They are resilient, strong, hard workers—from the women who provide for their families each morning only to go out and work 12-hour days fishing or harvesting to the women in sub-Saharan Africa who, collectively, spend about 40 billion hours hauling water each year. These women are often undereducated and receive little access to training or essential tools for their work. Women also play pivotal, and sometimes desperately difficult, roles in their families. They are the most likely to be caregivers both for young and old family members, usually on top of their daily responsibilities. When food resources run scarce, it is most often women in poor rural families who go hungry, giving food instead to their children and husbands. Rural women are often acutely in need of support, but they’re not the only ones who benefit from their empowerment. The key roles they play in their communities, position rural women uniquely well to benefit those around them as they thrive.
God, bless all rural women throughout the world. Guide them with wisdom as they struggle to provide for themselves and their families and communities. Protect them in their hour of need. Open the hearts of all to work tirelessly for justice for these women, providing them with adequate food, education and resources to reach their full potential, recognizing that when women flourish, families and communities also thrive.
October 17—International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
"Poverty is not simply measured by inadequate income. It is manifested in restricted access to health, education and other essential services and, too often, by the denial or abuse of other fundamental human rights. Let us listen to and heed the voices of people living in poverty. Let us commit to respect and defend the human rights of all people and end the humiliation and social exclusion that people living in poverty face every day by promoting their involvement in global efforts to end extreme poverty once and for all."
— UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
Indeed, extreme poverty is a violation of human rights. Ending this suffering requires the full participation of those living in poverty—listening to their stories and insights, in order to develop strategies and policies that can address the lived realities that they face. The UN also recognizes that in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating severe poverty by 2030, we must also end warfare within and among nations. Resources spent on weapons literally takes away food, water, education, and healthcare from millions of people. It leads to the displacement of people from their homes and creates global instability and fear. War also makes it virtually impossible to engage in agricultural efforts, leading to starvation and illness. Peacemaking is the first step to eradicating poverty.
Holy One, we pray for the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty throughout the world and the over 800 million people who endure hunger and malnutrition. Inspire us to make choices in our lives that will promote the equitable distribution of resources so that no one is forced to live in extreme poverty. Inspire world leaders in their efforts to implement the Sustainable Development goals, which include eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.
October 24-30—United Nations Disarmament Week
This UN Week calls for worldwide disarmament. It is based on the belief that this would be a much safer world without weapons of war. It calls for the elimination of all arms and arms production, except for those weapons needed for adequate policing efforts. While acknowledging that disarmament alone will not bring peace, the UN also recognizes that elimination of weapons of mass destruction, illicit arms trafficking, and burgeoning weapons stockpiles would advance both peace and development goals. It would accomplish this by reducing the effects of wars, eliminating some key incentives to new conflicts, and liberating resources to improve the lives of all the peoples of the United Nations and the natural environment in which they live. Eliminating weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and small arms trafficking are both essential to this effort. These two measures would go a long way to creating an environment where diplomatic efforts could be more successful at resolving differences. Disarmament Week (which begins on October 24 -- the anniversary of the UN's founding) is an important occasion to raise awareness in the public and among governments, about the crucial need to recognize disarmament as a key element in creating a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.
God, we ask you to help us in our efforts to disarm our world for the common good of all. Your message of peace calls us to lay down our weapons and to invest instead in safeguarding Earth and in providing for the needs of all our sisters and brothers. Help us to work for disarmament and to demand that our governments invest in people instead of investing in destruction and war. Give us the courage to resist war-making and to be peacemakers.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of September, 2017
September 1—World Day of Prayer for Creation
Pope Francis has urged people the world over to join the Orthodox church in a world day of prayer for creation. The orthodox church has celebrated this day yearly since 1989. This year, it is the day that will start Pope Francis’ “Season of Creation”, from September 1-October 4, the feast of St Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology. This World Day of Prayer for Creation is a time to praise God for the wonder of creation, to remember our responsibility to protect and respect creation, and to marvel at the abundance of divine grace made manifest to us through creation. It is also a day to seek forgiveness for the many ways we have contributed to the destruction and degradation of creation and to reflect on how we can change our lives in order to protect creation for future generations.
For more information click on: http://catholicclimatemovement.global/world-day-of-prayer/
God, we thank you for the divine majesty and beauty that you share with us through the wonders of creation. We know that we have often taken these gifts for granted and have contributed in many ways to pollution and climate change which threatens Earth, our common home. Today, we ask you to awaken within us a renewed awareness of all that is—that all is a precious gift. Bless us with a renewed commitment to care for creation and to take time each day to reflect on the power, wonder and beauty of the heavens and Earth.
September 8—World Literacy Day
The theme of World Literacy Day 2017 is “World Literacy in a Digital World”. Although many countries offer “free” public education, many poor children cannot access education because of their inability to afford books, uniforms, shoes, etc. In many parts of the world, education is only offered to boys—girls are excluded. Some countries do not offer free education, thus making education only accessible to the fortunate few who can afford it. The 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 called for universal primary and secondary education for all children worldwide, regardless of religion, gender, economic status or nationality. By including this goal, the world community recognized that education is essential to lifting individuals, communities and countries out of poverty. This year’s theme further recognizes that literacy is a fundamental tool needed to function in today’s digital world. As digital communications across cultures and continents increase, participation in the global community depends on literacy. This year’s theme also recognizes that digital technology can be used in the promotion of literacy, even in remote areas. Technology brings global expert teachers to many remote locations simultaneously, thus making sharing of knowledge more rapid and integrated. Literacy is a first step in unleashing this marvelous potential for all human beings to contribute to our global future together.
We praise you, God, for all the wonders with which you fill the earth. We thank you for our ability to read, study and expand our knowledge. Literacy also allows us to share our thoughts and reflections with one another over great distances and across cultures. Help us as we work to ensure that each child has an opportunity to study and to learn so that every human being can reach his or her full potential and contribute to raising our global consciousness.
September 10—World Suicide Prevention Day
This day focuses on a worldwide effort to prevent suicide. Each year, over 800,000 people commit suicide and over 25 times as many attempt suicide. This has become a worldwide epidemic! Each person lost to suicide results in grief and suffering for family, friends, communities, schoolmates and colleagues. Many people who have survived suicide attempts say that if someone had asked them “How are you today?” and had listened to their answer, they would have poured out their anguish and perhaps not made the attempt. This is a day to raise awareness of depression, loneliness and despair and to reach out to those in need of a helping hand and listening ear. The first step is to remove the stigma associated with seeking psychological and psychiatric care. Many people who are feeling suicidal do not seek help because of the stigma attached to “mental illness.” If anyone you know seems to need help, reach out to them. Ask them how they are and listen to their response and to what they are feeling. Let them know that you love them and will support them in whatever way you can. Encourage them to seek professional help.
Holy One, we pray for all those who feel alone, afraid, desperate or depressed. Open our hearts to recognize these situations and to respond with love and compassion. Help us to support mental health professionals as they try to assist those in need.
September 16—International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. The protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. It was agreed on 16 September 1987, and entered into force on 1 January 1989. Due to its widespread adoption and implementation, it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international co-operation.
The main cause of ozone depletion and the ozone hole is human-made chemicals, in particular halocarbon refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents (chlorofluorocarbon (CFC’s), freons, halons), referred to as ozone-depleting substances (ODS). Ozone depletion and the ozone hole generated worldwide concern over increased cancer risks and other negative effects. The ozone layer prevents most harmful UVB wavelengths (280–315 nm) of ultraviolet light from passing through the Earth's atmosphere. These wavelengths cause skin cancer, sunburn, and cataracts, which were projected to increase dramatically as a result of thinning ozone, as well as harming plants and animals. These concerns led to adoption in 1987 of the Montreal Protocol, which bans the production of CFCs, halons, and other ODS. The Montreal Protocol succeeded: after the ban came into effect in 1989, ozone levels stabilized (in the mid-1990s), and have since started to recover (in the 2000s). Recovery is projected to continue over the next century, and the ozone hole is expected to reach pre-1980 levels by around 2075. This success is celebrated today and reminds us of the success that can be accomplished when nations work together to protect our environment. This is a particularly poignant reminder as we begin working to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016.
We pray for our world and for all human beings that share this magnificent planet with us. We recommit ourselves to continue to find ways to modify our lifestyles so that we can continue to heal our planet and ourselves. God, we count on your Spirit to lead us into our future.
September 21—International Day of Peace
This very special day is a time to remember that peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice. Established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. Creating a culture of peace means treating each other with respect, as brothers and sisters. The theme for 2017 is Together for Peace: Respect, Dignity and Safety for All. “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”
This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. Its messages will be shared with communities hosting refugees and migrants. The Day will highlight solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities. Ultimately, it will be about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity.
On 15 September 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., the Secretary-General will celebrate the Day in the Peace Garden at United Nations Headquarters by ringing the Peace Bell and observing a minute of silence. United Nations Messengers of Peace will participate in the ceremony.
God, we pray for peace around the world, and for justice that makes peace possible. We pray for all those refugees and migrants who have been forced to flee their homes and their countries in desperate search for safety. May we welcome those in need, support them through the traumas they have suffered and surround each other with respect and love.
September 25—United Nations 2nd Anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals
Adopted on September 25, 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) outline 17 goals that must be achieved in order to eradicate extreme poverty, address inequalities, and reduce climate change worldwide by 2030. The Paris Climate Agreement of April 2016 was one international step toward achieving the SDG’s. Heads of state have also come together at the UN to try to establish a coordinated approach in response to the global refugee crisis. All of this, however, is impossible to achieve without diplomatic solutions to global and international crises so that armed conflict will cease. Everyone recognizes that war does not serve the cause of peace and sustainable global development.
For more information click on:
God, we ask for forgiveness for our trust in weapons of war, rather than the power of love, to protect us. We ask you to open our hearts to know each other as brothers and sisters. Change our weapons into dust and create from that dust instruments of peace and goodness and hope. Help us to dedicate our lives to establishing justice on earth so that all people can share equally in the blessings of creation.