Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of November, 2017
November 10—World Science Day for Peace and Development
The purpose of the World Science Day for Peace and Development is to remember the contributions made by science to peace and sustainable development around the world. This day reminds us how essential scientific research and implementation are to humankind’s ability to successfully meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN in September 2015.
Unfortunately, science can and often has been used to promote violence and war on an ever more devastating scale in the past 100 years. This day is a time to urge nations and governments to implement scientific advances for the preservation of the environment through sustainable agriculture, development of clean and renewable energy sources, protection for and efficient use of fresh water sources, and equitable production and distribution of food globally, especially to those most in need. International sharing of emerging technologies is an essential component of international peace and cooperation.
We pray for researchers and scientific developers, that their efforts be directed to serving the common good. May we willingly share new discoveries, for the good of the environment, for the good of all humanity and for international peace and cooperation. We pray for a sustainable future for all of us as we journey into the future with hope.
November 20—Universal Children’s Day
Universal Children’s Day was established as a day to celebrate childhood and to discuss and address issues important to the wellbeing of children. On November 20, 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration Of the Rights Of the Child, a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.
The UN recently reported that there are about 2 million children trafficked worldwide. It also reported that globally one in ten children are subject to child labor. At least 51% of today’s nearly 40 million refugees are children. Of the estimated 815 million people suffering from hunger and malnutrition, over half are children. Access to education in many countries is still inaccessible to rural and poor children. Domestic violence, as well as the violence of war, robs millions of children of their childhood and subjects them to fear, insecurity and loss of hope. On Universal Children’s Day let us work to protect the rights of children. Let us recognize the human rights and dignity of all children and act on their behalf to make life safer, so that each child can reach his/her full potential.
Let us pray for the children of the world, that they be protected from physical and psychological trauma, provided with safety, food and shelter, offered affirmation and love, and lifted from grief and despair to joy and hope. God, bless each child on earth with the knowledge that they are loved so that they can grow and develop fully and extend that love to others.
November 25—International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
This day seeks to raise awareness about violence against women and to actively work to end such violence. Much of this violence stems from cultural norms that often view women as inferior human beings. It is estimated that violence against women affects one of every three women at some point in her lifetime. Because it is often hidden, violence against women, as a human rights violation, needs to be brought into the light of day in order to be condemned and eliminated. The ultimate goal of this day is to end violence against women and achieve gender equality through the empowerment of women. We urge all of us to wear orange on that day to call attention to the global effort to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
Holy One, we ask you to strengthen and comfort all women who suffer from sexual, psychological or physical violence. Make us all aware of these, our sisters, so that we will not be silent nor turn a deaf ear to their suffering. May we join with one another in speaking and working for justice and gender equality. Help us to educate men and boys to respect, love and cherish their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and all women as equals in caring for one another and our planet. May each of us commit ourselves to creating a just world where each life is sacred and where every person proclaims that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all.”
November 29—International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
This date of November 29th was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people. On that day in 1947, the General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to be known as the Partition Resolution. This resolution called for the partitioning of Palestine into two states—Israel and Palestine. So far, only the state of Israel exists. The people in the Palestinian territories have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967, and Israel continues to build settlements in the Palestinian territories. The International Day of Solidarity has traditionally provided an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine remains unresolved and that the Palestinian people are yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly. These rights include the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced. The UN continues its commitment to bring about a just peace in the region that protects and acknowledges the rights of the Palestinian people.
Let us pray for the Palestinian people who long for self-determination and freedom. May Palestinians and Israelis meet and work together to build understanding and trust, after many decades of distrust and violence. May they seek to understand one another’s needs and build bridges of understanding rather than walls of separation. God, inspire all nations to promote dialogue and respect as the basis for peace.
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.