Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of February, 2017
February 8—International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Union of Superiors General has designated February 8th as an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. February 8th is the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. Once Josephine was freed, she became a Canossian nun and dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting the poor and suffering. She was declared a Saint in 2000. On this day around the world Catholics are asked to pray in a special way for victims of human trafficking and to act to end this practice wherever we encounter it. For more information about human trafficking go to http://www.usccb.org/about/anti-trafficking-program/index.cfm
O God, when we hear of children and adults deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force. We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with Saint Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. (Taken from a prayer of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Canada.)
February 11—World Day of the Sick
February 11th, the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, marks the 25th annual World Day of the Sick. It is a day to remember those who suffer illness, those relatives, friends and caregivers who minister to them and all healthcare professionals whose lives are dedicated to caring for the sick. It is especially a time for each of us to dedicate ourselves to the cause of universal healthcare as a right for all human beings. No one who is ill should be alone or suffer without loving care. For Pope Francis’ 2017 statement of the World Day of the Sick, go to:
We pray for the needs of the sick and of all those who suffer — the poor, the infirm, the outcast, the marginalized. May they be recognized for their innate and inalienable dignity, and may they bring out in others the love and compassion that are part of every created human heart…. We pray for those who provide care and assist the sick—family members, health workers and volunteers—that they may accompany the infirm and show them the love of God made manifest in human hands and hearts. We pray for those in different roles of service and in health care institutions throughout the world, that they will be strengthened in their professionalism and dedication to the sick and the suffering. (Taken from a Prayer for World Day of the Sick from the US Catholic Health Care Association)
February 20—World Day of Social Justice
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of its global mission to promote development and human dignity. The General Assembly proclaimed February 20th as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.
God of justice and mercy, we ask your blessing upon those trapped by the world's sin
For those who live in the terror of war …
Place peace in the hearts of those carrying out violence
For those who live shackled and trafficked …
Grow mercy in the hearts of those who hold them captive or benefit from their suffering
For those who bear the weight of poverty …
Create generosity in the hearts of those who can help bear the weight
For those whose life and livelihood are affected by our changing climate …
Place prudence in the hearts of those in positions of power
For those who continue to be pushed to the margins of society – the elderly, immigrants, addicted …
Grow compassion in the hearts of those who might welcome them into its center
And for all of us, grant the strength to continue working for justice in this world and the faith to believe that we can create the world we wish for.
(taken from the 2016 US Catholic Health Association Prayer for World Day of Social Justice)
February 24—International Stand Up To Bullying Day
This day, the last Friday of February, is an annual event in which everyone is encouraged to wear a pink shirt to take a visible, public stand against bullying. Wearing this shirt identifies a peer based support structure to victims and their bullies in a non-confrontational way. The color of the shirts is based on a campaign started by Travis Price and David Shepherd, two students who took a stand for a fellow student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.
God, we thank you for creating each person as a unique expression of your love. We pray for all those who have been victims of bullying, that they may come to know that they are special gifts to our world. May we always treat each other with respect, honor and love. May we have the courage to support others when they experience bullying and to intervene to stop it. May we never condone bullying by our silence.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of January, 2017
January 1—World Day of Peace
January 1st -- World Peace Day -- marks its 50th anniversary, first declared by Pope Paul VI as a special feast day in 1967 following the publication of the Pope John XXIII encyclical Pacem in Terris. This year, Pope Francis has published his world day of peace reflection entitled Non-violence: A Style of Politics For Peace.
Pope Francis said in his Aug. 26 message, 'The proliferation of hotbeds of violence produces most serious negative social consequences. … Peace, by contrast, promotes social positive consequences and it allows the achievement of real progress.' Justice achieved through the means of active non-violence is the Gospel way to peace.
Let us pray to our God of Peace for the gift of disarmament. May we turn away from war and violence and commit ourselves to building a world of justice and peace through active non-violence.
January 15—Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15th is the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, a great, non-violent civil rights leader from the USA. He was born in 1929 and died after being shot by an assassin on April 4, 1968 as he campaigned for a just wage for garbage workers in Memphis Tennessee. The theme for this year’s celebration and remembrance is “we shall overcome”. Although Doctor King is best known for his non-violent struggle for racial justice and equality during the civil rights struggle in the US in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, his later years expanded his work, demanding economic justice and an end to war as essential to the struggle for civil rights. This day honors the total legacy of Dr. King, focuses on the issue of civil rights, highlights the use of nonviolence to promote change, and calls people into public service. Martin Luther King Jr has become an international symbol of hope throughout the world and his legacy continues to inspire millions in their struggle for freedom, equality, justice and dignity around the world.
Let us pray for those around the world still living in oppression and hopelessness because of racial, ethnic or religious hatred or intolerance. May they be inspired by the many heroes of non-violence who have helped to bring about social change. May Martin Luther King’s story and life inspire each of us to work for economic justice, equality, respect for diversity and non-violent peace making.
January 27—International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust
This day of commemoration of the victims of the holocaust was adopted by the United nations in 2005 in order to remind the world of the lessons learned so that all forms of genocide can be guarded against and prevented from happening again. This day reminds all of us of what hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice can lead to. It calls upon all citizens of the world to respect and cherish our diversity and to protect one another whenever someone is threatened with harm. This day reminds us that bad things happen when good people remain silent. We must never be silent in the face of injustice, even if standing in solidarity with “the other” could result in death. This is truly a sobering realization, but this is what we are called to do.
Let us pray for the many victims of the holocaust whom we remember today. We also remember and pray for the many victims of genocide who continue to suffer from extreme violence and “ethnic cleansing” in Central America, Syria, Iraq and so many other places. We pray for the courage to protect our brothers and sisters whenever we see them under attack. May we always stand in solidarity, wrapped together in the cloak of love and respect.