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.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of August, 2017
August 6 and 9—World Remembrance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August 6 and 9, 1945 are days that forever changed the history of the world. The nuclear weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those dates ushered in the age of nuclear weapons, the nuclear arms race, and the theory that world peace could only be assured by the fear of “mutually assured destruction”. Fear, rather than respect for human dignity and life, became the basis for international diplomacy. We recognize and affirm that peace is not measured by the absence of war and can never be achieved by fear. Peace results from the power of love and respect for human dignity. We must work ceaselessly so that nuclear weapons are never used again. Let us commit ourselves to ridding the planet of nuclear weapons.
Holy One, we ask your forgiveness for the human folly in which we all share. Turn our hearts from fear and distrust of one another toward respect and love for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Grant us peace that is built on solidarity, recognizing that we must live as one human family.
August 11—Feast of St. Clare of Assisi
St. Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi on July 16, 1194, as Chiara Offreduccio, the beautiful eldest daughter of Favorino Scaff, Count of Sasol-Rosso and his wife Portolans. As a young girl, Clare dedicated herself to prayer. At 18-years-old, she heard St. Francis of Assisi preach during a Lenten service in the church of San Giorgio and asked him to help her live according to the Gospel. On Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare left her father's home and went to the chapel of the Periocular to meet with Francis and to become one of his growing number of followers. Clare joined the convent of the Benedictine nuns of San Paulo, near Bastia, under Francis' orders. When her father found her and attempted to force her back into his home, she refused and professed that she would continue her life of dedication to Jesus Christ.
In order to give her the greater solitude she desired, Francis sent Clare to Sant' Angelo in Panzo, another Benedictine nuns’ monastery. Clare's sister Catarina, who took the name Agnes, joined her at this monastery. The two remained there until a separate dwelling was built for them next to the church of San Damiano. Over time, other women joined them, wanting to also be brides of Jesus and live with no money. They became known as the "Poor Ladies of San Damiano." They all lived a simple life of austerity, seclusion from the world, and poverty, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order. San Damiano became the center of Clare's new order, which was then known as the "Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano." For a brief period of time, the order was directed by St. Francis himself and by 1216, Clare became the abbess of San Damiano. Ten years after Clare's death, the order became known as the Order of Saint Clare. Following Francis' death, Clare continued to promote her order, fighting off every attempt from each pope trying to impose a rule on her order that would water down their "radical commitment to corporate poverty." On August 9, 1253, Pope Innocent IV declared Clare's rule would serve as the governing rule for Clare's Order of Poor Ladies. Two days later, Clare died at 59-years-old.
God, we thank you for the inspiration of Clare, the co-founder of our Franciscan family. Her dedication, courage, generosity and loving kindness continue to call all of us to live lives inspired by the Gospel. May each of us reach out to the poor and oppressed, bringing food, health, healing, joy, hope and love.
August 19—World Humanitarian Day
World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people. Each day, thousands of volunteers worldwide are actively involved in meeting the needs of vulnerable people throughout the world, often at considerable risk to themselves. They work tirelessly to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity. Often, people begin this journey of humanitarian service by connecting deeply and personally with the needs of others. This experience then moves them to lead the way for others to get involved. When we allow our hearts to be touched by the needs of others in a personal way, we are compelled to reach out. Thus, person by person, the world is transformed.
On this years’ World Humanitarian Day, the UN and its partners are advocating for the protection of civilians, aid workers, and all those affected by conflict. Every year, thousands of men and women the world over put their lives in danger working in humanitarian relief efforts. Working in the most poverty and illness stricken third world countries, often in areas of great social violence, these dedicated heroes put their lives on the line, and sometimes lose them in the pursuit of their goals. World Humanitarian Day is when we remember these heroes and their sacrifices.
We pray for all people suffering from injustice, violence and hopelessness. May each of us open our hearts and allow ourselves to be changed. May each find a way to alleviate the suffering of others and to transform our world through the power of love.
August 23—International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
This date is significant because, during the night of August 22 to August 23, 1791, on the island of Saint Domingue (now known as Haiti), an uprising began which set forth events which were a major factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. It was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection by self-liberated slaves against French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue, now the sovereign nation of Haiti. It began in 1791 and ended in 1804 with the former colony's independence. It was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state, which was both free from slavery, and ruled by non-whites and former captives. It is now widely seen as a defining moment in the history of racism in the Atlantic World.
Its effects on the institution of slavery were felt throughout the Americas. The ending of French rule and the abolition of slavery in the former colony by the former slaves was followed by their successful defense of the freedoms they won, and, with the collaboration of mulattoes, their independence from rule by white Europeans. It represents the largest slave uprising since Spartacus's unsuccessful revolt against the Roman Republic nearly 1,900 years before. It challenged long-held beliefs about black inferiority and about enslaved persons' capacity to achieve and maintain their own freedom. The rebels' organizational capacity and tenacity under pressure became legendary. This day is a time to reflect on the resiliency of the human spirit, the human desire for freedom and self-determination, and the dedication needed in the struggle for justice.
While we should never forget the atrocities committed in the past, we should be equally vigilant in seeking to abolish the contemporary forms of slavery that affect millions of men, women and children around the world. Despite the arsenal of international instruments created to combat the exploitation of human beings, as well as the growing awareness of the forced labour and the sale and prostitution of children, the disturbing truth is that such flagrant violations of human rights continue. They are a scourge undermining the social fabric of many societies, which UNESCO is working with determination to end.
I therefore call upon all UNESCO Member States to seize the opportunity provided by this International Day to make a common appeal for universal remembrance of the tragic events of the past and to renew their efforts to end all forms of oppression in order to build more tolerant and just societies for the present and future generations.”
—UNESCO Director General 2008
Holy One, we pray for those throughout the world enslaved against their will. May all people experience their human dignity and may each of us show respect and love to one another. Help us to work tirelessly for peaceful change that moves the world ever forward, towards justice for all.
August 26—Women’s Equality Day
Women in the United States were given the right to vote on August 26, 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was signed after 72 years of struggle. In 1971 Congresswoman by Bella Abzug introduced a resolution designating August 26 of each year as Women's Equality Day. This resolution passed. Today, women’s equality has grown to mean much more than just sharing the right to the vote. Organizations such as Equality Now and Womankind Worldwide continue to work to provide women across the globe with equal opportunities to education and employment, pushing against suppression and violence towards women and against the discrimination and stereotyping which still occur in every society. Indeed, the UN Sustainable Development Goals of 2015 recognize that Goal. “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” is essential to eradicating severe poverty worldwide and achieving sustainable development by 2030. Let us use this day to celebrate and recognize the many gifts that women and girls bring to the local, regional and global community. Let’s act to ensure that every woman and girl has what she needs to reach her full potential so that we can all move into the future with hope, justice and peace.
God, we pray that woman and girls throughout the world may experience true freedom. May they be able to develop themselves to the fullest. May all people recognize that “human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”
August 29—International Day Against Nuclear Tests
As more and more nations seek to acquire or develop nuclear weapons, this day dedicated to abolishing weapons testing as a step towards a nuclear weapons free world takes on new urgency and significance.
UN Secretary-General's Message for 2016:
For nearly a decade as United Nations Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break longstanding deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue.
Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific. A prohibition on all nuclear testing will end this poisonous legacy. It will boost momentum for other disarmament measures by showing that multilateral cooperation is possible, and it will build confidence for other regional security measures, including a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. When I visited Semipalatinsk in 2010, I saw the toxic damage – but I also witnessed the resolve of the victims and survivors. I share their determination to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Since its adoption 20 years ago by the General Assembly, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has yet to enter into force. Given the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons to our collective human and environmental security – even our very existence – we must reject this stalemate. I urge Member States to act now. Those States whose ratification is required to bring the Treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All States that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act. On this Day, I call on all countries and peoples to work for the CTBT’s entry into force as soon as possible so that we may advance toward a nuclear-weapon-free world.
God, we ask that humankind may turn from violence to peace, from weapons of mass destruction to massive efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give hope to the hopeless. Change our hearts so that we trust in you and your love for us, rather than trusting in nuclear weapons. May we turn our creative energies to serving the needs of one another. May we forever reject nuclear weapons.
August 30—International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances
Secret imprisonment, forced disappearances and abduction by governments or paramilitary groups is seen by the UN as a clear violation of human rights. People being arrested or detained have a right to know the charges against them and to have legal representation through processes legally established. The International Day of the Disappeared, on August 30 of each year, is a day created to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives. Work on secret imprisonment is an important part of the activities for a number of international bodies and organizations in the fields of human rights activism and humanitarian aid, including for example Amnesty International (AI), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The International Day of the Disappeared is an opportunity to highlight these institutions' work, increase public awareness, and to call for donations and volunteers. Visiting those detained in relation to conflicts and enabling them to restore and maintain contact with their families, is a very important part of the ICRC's mandate. But the definition of the Missing or the Disappeared goes far beyond the victims of enforced disappearance. It includes all those whose families have lost contact as the result of conflicts, natural disasters or other tragedies.
These missing may be detained, stranded in foreign countries, hospitalized or dead. Through its tracing services and working with the 189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, the ICRC seeks to obtain information about their fate on behalf of their families. It reminds governments and other groups of their obligations to respect the families' right to know the fate of their loved ones. It also works with families of the missing to help them address their particular psychological, social, legal and financial needs.
We pray for those who have disappeared and their families who miss them so much. We ask for the safety of those still alive whose fate is unknown to their loved ones. May they be returned to their families and may they be comforted in their suffering. We pray for family members, that they may be comforted in their sorrow and loss. May each of us ceaselessly work for justice for all of our brothers and sisters.