Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of June, 2019
June 5—World Environment Day
Celebrated in 100 countries, the UN’s World Environment Day calls all citizens of the world to raise awareness about the care of Earth. Further, it is a day to foster action to protect the environment. Earth is our mother. She sustains and protects us and all life on our planet. This year, China will host the World Environment Celebrations on June 5th—the theme is air pollution. The main events will be held in Hangzhou, in the province of Zhejiang. China was chosen to host the events because of the great strides they have made over the last 20 years in reducing air pollution in Beijing. In a recently published report, they outlined the efforts they made that yielded these results. With their growing green energy sector, China has become a leader in addressing climate change. The gathering will showcase renewable energy and green technologies aimed at improving air quality in cities and regions around the world.
Air Pollution facts:
- 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air
- Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs
- Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030
- Approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution
Holy One, we lift our voices to you in praise for the wonders of creation. We thank you, especially, for the air we breathe. Inspire us to action on behalf of Mother Earth and Sister Air. We know that this is a critical time during which we must lower CO2 emissions and toxic chemicals in the air. Now is also the time for increasing green spaces, protecting plants and trees that provide us with oxygen, and ending the use of fossil fuels. Help us to change our lives so that we and future generations can live healthy and sustainable lives.
June 8—World Oceans Day
Oceans cover about two thirds of the earth’s surface. Oceans provide us with food, medicine, and most of the oxygen we breathe. The oceans are also critical to maintaining the Earth’s temperatures, including seasonal changes and its rain cycles. This year everyone is being encouraged to “Wear Blue, Tell Two”. In addition to wearing something blue on that day, we are to share two facts that we have learned about Earth’s oceans with someone else.
One of the largest threats to our oceans is global climate change. Oceans are warming at an alarming rate and this can severely alter ocean currents, causing abnormal flood and draught cycles as well as increasing the rate of global warming. Plastic pollution in the oceans has also reached a critical level, killing fish, ocean mammals, and sea birds. As long as plastic production continues, pollution of the world’s oceans will increase, since plastic never disappears from the environment. It merely breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Elimination of single use plastics and recycling of plastics needs to become a universal priority.
This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is “Gender and the Ocean”. This theme provides an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean. On this day the UN will strive to build greater ocean and gender literacy and discover possible ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as marine scientific research, fisheries, labor at sea, migration by sea and human trafficking, policy-making and management.
Creator of life, we thank you for the oceans that team with life, regulate earth’s climate, inspire us with beauty and power, and sustain all living creatures. Open our hearts with a growing appreciation of how oceans affect all of us. Help us to care for the oceans by making sustainable living choices each day so that life can continue to flourish for generations to come.
June 12—World Day Against Child Labor
World Day Against Child Labor aims to accelerate action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 8.8 of safe and secure working environments for all workers by 2030 and SDG target 8.7 of ending all forms of child labor by 2025. It is said that “children should not work in fields, but on dreams.” And yet, over 150 million children in the world work in nearly all economic sectors, with over 70% working in agriculture. Most of these child laborers work in unsafe conditions, for little or no pay. Such practices rob children of their childhood—socialization, playing, going to school, getting adequate sleep and nutrition, and developing a sense of being loved and protected in a stable environment. The UN has made the protection of children from exploitation and child labor a top priority.
God, we ask you to bless all children around the world. Protect them from exploitation, abuse and fear. Give us the courage to step in whenever we know of a child being abused or neglected. Inspire people everywhere to cherish children, providing them with safety, caring, love, and compassion. May we provide them with education, nutrition, and stability, so that they may develop their full potential.
June 17—World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) will be celebrated worldwide on the 17th of June. This day calls our attention to the rapidly expanding areas of drought across our planet. This is a result of climate change, poor farming methods, deforestation and resulting erosion, and ozone destruction exposing agricultural lands to increased drying effects of the sun. This year’s theme is: “25 Years—Let’s Grow the Future Together!” UN events will take place in Ankara, Turkey. They will promote sustainable land management, as well as celebrate the 25 years of progress toward achieving land degradation neutrality. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “we are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations”. Specifically, Goal 15 states our resolve to halt and reverse land degradation.
Mother/Father God, we thank you for Mother Earth who sustains our lives. Help us to protect the land on which we grow our crops. Help us to treat agricultural land with respect, using sustainable, non-toxic methods to promote growth of the food that nourishes us. Expand our consciousness so that we conserve groundwater as much as possible. Help us to restore and protect native grasslands and woodlands that protect our lands from flooding that washes away topsoil and soil nutrients. Thank you for all the blessings of the land, the holy ground on which we live.
June 20—World Refugee Day
The world refugee crisis continues to worsen as millions of people flee their home countries to escape violence, war, hunger and fear. In recent years, climate change refugees have had to relocate because their home communities have been inundated with sea water as sea levels rise. Many refugees leave their homes with virtually nothing as they “run for their lives”. Refugees can spend months or years in refugee camps that are unsafe, unsanitary, and overcrowded, as they await processing. They have little say as to what country they will eventually be resettled in. When they get there, most do not know the language of the receiving country and are often met with hostility and suspicion. On World Refugee Day we are all called to reach out to refugees in our communities, offering whatever support we can to ease their resettlement. All of us can do something—teaching them language, helping those in need to find a job, assisting children in registering for school and vaccinations, helping collect clothes or household items that refugees will need in their new homes or apartments. Most of all, we can offer our friendship, respect and welcome!
God, we ask you to protect all people who have to flee their homes in order to survive. Bless them on their dangerous journeys to safety. Once they make their way to our countries, help us to welcome them with open arms and open hearts. Move us to respond with respect and love to each refugee in our midst. Also, help us to work for just immigration and asylum policies in our own countries so that human rights are respected and international laws regarding refugees are enforced.
June 26—International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture
Torture is an immoral act because it violates the dignity of the human person and caused irreparable harm to those who suffer torture. Torture attempts to deny the humanity of the victim, but in reality, it also robs the torturer of his/her humanity. On the International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture, the UN invites all of us to stand in solidarity with the thousands of victims of torture. Together, we join with people around the world to say “No” to torture and to actively reject any and all attempts to justify torture. Under international law, torture is never allowed under any circumstances. It cannot be justified even as a measure of last resort. Those guilty of torturing others must be prosecuted and those who suffer torture have a right to redress and compensation, including medical and psychological care. We must not send torture victims back to receive further torture. Instead, our asylum processes must find ways of eliciting the stories of torture from asylum claimants in ways that respect their experience and their difficulty in articulating what has happened to them.
God, prevent human beings everywhere from torture. Give us compassion, so that when we look into the eyes of another person we will see a brother or sister with the same feelings, hopes, dreams and needs as we have. Protect us as we call on governments around the world to reject all forms of torture, and all attempts to justify it. Let our hearts grow in compassion and respect for human dignity.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of May, 2019
May 1—International Workers’ Day
Also known as May Day, International Workers’ Day honors laborers and workers around the world whose daily work builds and maintains society, economic systems and supports families. Often toiling in obscurity, these workers feed, house and cloth their families, keeping the fabric of the family intact, nurturing the present generation and educating future generations. Workers have often worked in dangerous conditions, risking their health, injury on the job and sometimes even death inorder to earn their daily bread. Since the late 1800’s workers in many countries have managed to organize themselves, making it possible for them to negotiate fair pay, reasonable working hours, healthcare and retirement benefits, and the right to vacation time each year. However, many workers around the world still do not enjoy these hard-earned benefits. This day celebrates what can be achieved when workers ban together for the common good of all.
God of justice, we thank you for the brave men and women who have sacrifice so much in order to secure the rights of working men and women to a safe workplace, health and retirement benefits, a living wage and respect on the job. May we actively support the rights of workers to have a voice in the workplace. May all who are unemployed find work that recognizes their dignity and makes it possible for them to support themselves and their families.
May 15—The 88th Anniversary of Quadragesimo Anno
On May 15, 1931, Pope Pius XI published his encyclical Quadreagesimo Anno on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. These two encyclicals address the emerging social realities of private property, the relationship between capital and labor, and the social order emerging out of the industrial revolution. It recognized the essential role of labor in the creation of capital, while at the same time acknowledging the role of capital in a flourishing economy. The right to work was recognized as an essential human right, upholding the dignity of the person by allowing each worker to earn a living and to support his/her family. These two documents also called on governments to take responsibility for the common good by providing the necessary infrastructure development necessary for a flourishing society through taxation and the equitable redistribution of goods and services. This balance in society still seems to escape us. When government becomes the support for the wealthy owners of capital at the expense of the poor and workers, the common good is no longer their primary concern. Let us demand that governments everywhere live up to their responsibility to support the common good.
Holy One, we pray for people throughout the world who suffer because of the imbalance of power and wealth. We pray that governments protect the common good by ensuring living wages for all workers, providing access to healthcare, food and housing to all, and using their power of taxation to provide for the common good. We pray that the principles laid out in these two encyclicals will inspire creative action in meeting the needs of the poor and the needs of Earth, our common home.
May 21—Feast of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter
Franz Jägerstätter underwent a conversion to Gospel non-violence just as the Nazi party was coming to power in Germany. As a third order secular Franciscan, he refused to cooperate with the Nazi agenda and with its use of violence to intimidate and coerce others. When he was finally drafted into the German army, he refused military service. He believed that such service would be a form of complicity in the evils he was witnessing. This ordinary, humble working-class man took to heart the life and teachings of Jesus and was willing to stand up against the Nazi regime. On August 9, 1943 at the age of 33, Jägerstätter was executed by being beheaded for his stance of non-cooperation and non-violence. He left behind a wife and three daughters. Standing up to injustice, violence, hatred and bigotry is often costly. It can cost the person his/her career, family, friends, and even life itself. Yet, this is the kind of courage that following the Gospel demands. Once we have put our hand to the plow, we cannot look back. With persistence, faith, compassion and love, we are all called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, no matter the cost. May Franz Jägerstätter’s life inspire us in this time of darkness, injustice and hopelessness. May the Gospel move us to be bearers of light, justice and hope wherever we find ourselves.
Loving God, we pray for world leaders. May they find non-violent solutions to difficulties that confront us, always taking into account the common good. May each of us rededicate ourselves to finding peaceful paths towards justice, recognizing that war and violence cannot bring peace. We know that peacemaking is the real call of the Gospel. May our hearts be converted to compassion and understanding so that we can be a presence of light, justice and hope in our Church and in our World.
May 22—International Day for Biological Diversity
This day celebrates the 26th anniversary honoring biodiversity. It is a day that recognizes that the health of the planet depends on the biodiversity of species, great and small. To maintain diversity of species, we know that we must also sustain and protect the diversity of ecosystems. Global climate change threatens healthy ecosystems and has already contributed to the extinction of many species. Unrestrained hunting, fishing, and poaching has devastated many animal populations, and deforestation and desertification have led to losses of plant and animal species at alarming rates.
How to Observe International Day for Biological Diversity
1. Start your own organic garden
The change can take place right in your own backyard! However, not every kind of garden is suitable for any kind of environment. The key to a good organic garden is to replace invasive plants with native ones, eliminate hard surfaces that discourage growth, and refrain from using pesticides. Show off your own, native ecosystem.
2. Buy organic, sustainable food
Believe it or not, organic food is not just code for “expensive and weird-looking tomatoes.” Organic food has not been exposed to pesticides or fertilizers. And, although these are not necessarily harmful to humans in and of themselves, they can have negative impacts on the environment.
3. Conserve energy
By reducing your energy consumption, you minimize the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of your activities. In addition, you reduce the demand for companies to disturb the environment in a search for fossil fuels. While individual humans do not bear the same responsibility for the environment as big corporations do, it’s still important for all of us to preserve life on this planet.
Creator God awaken us to the urgent groaning of Mother Earth and her creatures. Move us to action as we seek ways to preserve ecosystem diversity and the species diversity that these ecosystems make possible. Open our heart to the needs of all creatures so that we can protect and respect the biodiversity that makes our common home a reflection of your love, beauty and creativity.
May 24—Fourth Anniversary of Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home
Laudato Si is the encyclical published in 2015 by Pope Francis in which he describes the dangerous climate change taking place in the world and the human attitudes and activities that are the primary causes of the environmental devastation that is occurring. In it, the pope calls all people of the world to reflect on how creation reveals the reality of divine love and how our sense of wonder at the mystery of creation is supported and inspired by the beauty and wonders that we experience. He calls for an appreciation for the interconnectedness of all beings—a concept he calls “integral ecology”. This linking of the care for the poor and the care of creation situates us within the whole of creation. We cannot truly care for Earth unless we also care for one another. We need to see ourselves as co-creators with God, and responsible for the sustainable use of the gifts of creation for the common good. Our actions need to be rooted in this deep reverence and respect for all of creation. Laudato Si call us to reflect on how we contribute to this “throw away” culture and to take action toward sustainable use of the gifts of creation.
Holy One, thank you for the wonder of creation. Your love has revealed itself in every aspect of creation and has lifted us to the heights of wonder, awe, inspiration and illumination. Guide each of us as we examine how we have participated in the “throw away” culture of our time. As we grow in understanding, help us to change our lives, embracing simplicity, care for Earth and care for one another, especially the poor.