Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of September, 2016
September 1—World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has designated September 1, 2016 as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and has asked that this day be celebrated each year on this date. It will also be added to the official Church calendar. Pope Francis said he was instituting the prayer day for Catholics because he shares the concern of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who initiated a similar prayer day for the Orthodox Church in 1989. The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis said, will be a time for individuals and communities to "reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live."
Let us pray for all of us who share Earth as our common home. May we treasure the diversity of creation, grow in our appreciation of the divine presence revealed in and through creation, and strengthen our commitment to care for Earth and for one another.
September 8—International Literacy Day
UNESCO first celebrated International Literacy Day on September 8, 1966. This 50th anniversary’s theme is: Reading the Past; Writing the Future. Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 60.7 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out. On this day we honor the efforts made over these past 50 years to increase literacy rates around the world and encourage innovative solutions to further increase literacy rates in the future. This is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this context the vision of literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities with special focus on youth and adults. Literacy is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The target is that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG Target 4.6).
Let us pray for children and adults around the world who have yet to gain full access to the tools for shaping their own future that literacy provides. May we commit ourselves to lifelong learning so that we can grow in our awareness of the struggles of the world’s poor and offer what we can toward building the future we desire.
September 16—International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer was designated for this day in commemoration of the date, in 1987, on which nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The ozone layer helps shield the earth from the harmful portion of the solar rays, thus protecting life on earth. Gradually increasing awareness of and phasing out of chemicals that damage the ozone layer of our atmosphere have already resulted in improvement in the ozone layer and have helped slow down climate change. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, an important milestone in the protection of the ozone layer. The theme for this celebration is: “30 years of healing the ozone together.” The theme is supported by the slogan, “Ozone: All there is between you and UV.”
Let us pray that all of us will continue to treasure Earth and care for the ozone layer which protects us from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and makes life on this planet possible. May we continue to be vigilant and ensure that harmful chemicals continue to be banned from use so that the ozone layer will be protected and restored.
September 18—World Water Monitoring Day
The primary goal of World Water Monitoring Day is to educate and engage citizens in the protection of water resources around the world. Many communities around the world are unaware of the condition of their water quality and the impact of their behaviors on the quality of their water resources. Conducting simple monitoring tests teaches participants about some of the most common indicators of water health and encourages further participation in more formal citizen monitoring efforts. This is an important global effort to protect this most precious of our natural resources—water.
Let us thank God for the gift of Sister Water, on whom all life depends. May we use this gift wisely, and may we continue to protect water from contamination and pollution for ourselves and future generations.
September 21—International Day of Peace
Recalling that the promotion of peace is one of the main purposes of the United Nations, the UN, in 1981, set aside September 21 as the International Day of Peace as a day “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” It is a day dedicated to building a culture of peace through dialogue, understanding, empathy, respect for human dignity and justice for all. This year’s theme is: Sustainable Development Goals—Building Blocks For Peace. The Secretary General of the UN will begin the day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell in the Peace Garden of the UN Headquarters. Women Nobel Peace Prize laureates and the United Nations Messengers of Peace will be invited to participate in the ceremony. True and lasting peace can only come about when all people have access to and participate meaningfully in sustainable development.
Let us pray that as we work toward realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we may all open our hearts toward all people as our brothers and sisters. May we respect and cherish one another, building bridges of understanding, respect and justice as lasting foundations for peace.
September 25—Anniversary of the United Nations Adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals adopted on September 25, 2015 at a special meeting of the 193 member states:
* An end to severe poverty in all its forms, everywhere
* End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
* Good health and well-being- ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages
* Quality education- ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
* Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
* Clean water and sanitation- ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
* Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
* Decent work and economic growth—promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
* Industry, innovation and infrastructure—build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
* Reduce inequalities within and among countries
* Sustainable cities and communities—make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
* Responsible production and consumption—ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns
* Climate action—take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
* Life below water—conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
* Life on land—protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
* Peace, justice and strong institutions—promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions as all levels
* Partnerships for the goals—strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of August, 2016
August 6 and 9—Remembrance of the Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan 1945
These special days are days to remember the first and only times that nuclear weapons have been used as weapons of war. On August 6, the U.S. dropped a uranium gun-type atomic bomb (Little Boy) on the city of Hiroshima. American President Harry S. Truman called for Japan's surrender 16 hours later, warning them to "expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth". Three days later, on August 9, the U.S. dropped a plutonium implosion-type bomb (Fat Man) on the city of Nagasaki. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians. The world must never forget the devastation of war that nuclear weapons epitomize. We must condemn not just the use but even the possession of nuclear weapons as immoral weapons of mass destruction. We must rid our world of all nuclear weapons.
Let us pray for victims of war throughout the world, particularly those still living who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. May we all work to rid our world of all nuclear weapons. Let us pray for national leaders of every country. May they seek and find nonviolent ways to resolve disputes and come to understand one another as brothers and sisters.
August 11—Feast of St Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi (Chiara Offreduccio) was one of the earliest followers of St Francis, joining his movement on Palm Sunday, March 20, 1212. She willingly embraced the poor and ill, serving their needs, counselling them and offering love and hope. In her monastery, all were sisters to one another. She recognized that wealth brought status, which separated people from one another. For this reason she steadfastly refused to accept property and possessions and insisted on living “the privilege of poverty”. Like Francis, Clare teaches us to embrace everyone and all creation as brothers and sisters.
Let us pray that we may live with respect and love for one another. May we recognize that we are all one, sisters and brothers to each other and to all creation.
August 19—World Humanitarian Day
World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly and set as 19 August. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad in 2003. Humanitarian aid workers risk their lives daily around the world in order to bring relief to those suffering from disease, malnutrition, poverty and war.
Let us pray for all those who put their lives at risk in order to bring critically needed assistance to millions of suffering people around the world. May we support their efforts in whatever ways we can. May we each do our part to reach out to those in need to relieve their suffering and to bring hope.
August 23—International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition
The International Day For Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition is set on August 23 because in late August 1791, a slave uprising on the Island of Santo Domingo (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) eventually ended slavery on that island and set the stage for a broader movement to end the transatlantic slave trade. On this day we remember the more than 15 million women, men and children who were victims of the transatlantic slave trade over more than 400 years. It is a time to remember the brutality of the system of slavery, a system of injustice that brought unimaginable suffering to so many. We also remember the lasting legacy of racial discrimination that is a legacy of slavery today. We honor those who survived against all odds. We are grateful to those who worked to end slavery, often at the price of their own lives. We also work to raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice today.
Let us pray that as we remember the millions of victims of slavery and more than 400 years of suffering, we also pray for an end to racism and discrimination that are today’s legacy of slavery. May we work to cleanse our own hearts of prejudice. Heal us so that we can treat all humanity with dignity, respect and love.
August 26—Women’s Equality Day
At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” This date commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Although not an international day, it is a good time for all of us around the world to remember that in many parts of the world women are still treated as second-class citizens or as if they were mere possessions of men. It calls our attention to women’s continuing struggles for full equality. The passage of the 19th amendment, after 72 years of effort, demonstrates the power of non-violent action for civil rights. When they first organized to gain political power, women were a virtually powerless, disenfranchised class. Yet without firing a shot, throwing a rock, or issuing a personal threat, women won for themselves the kind of political power that revolutionaries elsewhere have launched violent rebellions to achieve. To win the right to vote, women circulated countless suffrage petitions and gave speeches in churches, convention halls, meeting houses and on street corners. They published newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines. They were frequently harassed and sometimes attacked by mobs and police. Some women were thrown in jail, and when they protested the injustice they were treated brutally. Still they persevered. Finally, on August 26, 1920, their goal was achieved. Women had won the right to vote and to hold elective office.
Let us pray that as we struggle for civil rights around the world, may we harness the power of non-violent action to achieve lasting justice. May we stand in solidarity with women who are ignored, mistreated, oppressed and demeaned, and work for justice, respect and civil rights for all.