Pope Francis’s Missionary Intention this month is:
Let us pray that a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation may emerge in the Middle East, where diverse religious communities share their lives together.
What can I do with these stones? I could throw them at anyone who got too close to me or my possessions or my part of the beach.
I could use them to make a pathway in my garden, or across country for people to walk over. I could use them as filler in a drystone or concrete wall, providing shelter for people or beasts.
I could go down to the tideline and start a game of ducks and drakes, skimming them across the surface of the sea, splashing over the waves. People would hardly need an invitation to join in, the game is infectious. Like football (soccer) on a smaller scale. Every nation wants to be involved in the football World Cup even if they can barely hope to win one game.
Playing games, playing music, sharing meals together can help bring about a spirit of dialogue, encounter and reconciliation as much as high level talks between politicians who barely trust one another.
But even sport can be tainted by spectators’ hatred and racist abuse, when they could be admiring the beauty of the players’ skills, sharing the thrills of the game.
Is there room for God’s Spirit somewhere in there?
We have just celebrated St Francis’ day, so here is Pope Francis’s mission prayer for October. This is shared with us by Mission Today Magazine.
The poor man of Assisi brought about a new missionary dawn in his day; let us take courage from his example in today’s needy world.
May the breath of the Holy Spirit bring about a new missionary ‘dawn’ in the Church.
We have to remember that the first missionaries were not academically trained professionals as we would expect today. They had, however, been trained in the peripatetic school of Jesus, wandering Palestine and beyond in his company. And they were given, at least on this day, the gift of tongues, so no slog trying to learn African tonal languages (or even more difficult, one English missionary confided in me, Polish!)
We are all called to be missionaries, like all the 120 men and women – it was not just the apostles – in the upper room. What that means in practice depends on where we are, who we are with. To begin with, the outside observer ought to be able to say, Look how those Christians love one another. That’s a challenge in the wake of the scandals of recent years, but one we should always be up for, regardless – we should not be putting on a show, but just loving each other.
The rest flows from there. Our neighbours are our sisters and brothers and should be treated with respect; in over-simplified terms, if I respect someone then they themselves and others around them will feel that they are worthy of respect. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.
The new missionary dawn must shine on you and me, and show us our part in the work of the Spirit.
Following yesterday’s reflection on Pope Francis’s prayer for the Holy Spirit to bring about a new dawn of Mission, we have ‘An Extraordinary Month of Mission’ during October, as a response to Pope Benedict XV’s call to Mission ‘Maximum Illud’, a hundred years ago.
This prayer for the month is at the Missio Website.
God our Father, when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he commissioned his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.
Through our Baptism you send us out to continue this mission among all peoples.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and enthusiastic in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to us, which is still far from completion, may bring life and light to the world.
May all peoples experience the saving love and generous mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Not much to add to that! Except that we will need courage and enthusiasm to bring love and mercy to the people around us, and perhaps courage most especially when the enthusiasm is slow to get into gear. It happens.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS FRANCIS
FOR THE 104th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
29 September 2019
“It is not just about migrants”
I’m ashamed to say that the International Day of Migrants almost passed me by, despite its having been held more than 100 times. We now share an extract from Pope Francis’s message for the day in which he links migration to the misuse of Earth’s bounty that he explored in Laudato si’; the full text can be found here: Migrants’ Day
Faith assures us that in a mysterious way the Kingdom of God is already present here on earth (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 39). Yet in our own time, we are saddened to see the obstacles and opposition it encounters. Violent conflicts and all-out wars continue to tear humanity apart; injustices and discrimination follow one upon the other; economic and social imbalances on a local or global scale prove difficult to overcome. And above all, it is the poorest of the poor and the most disadvantaged who pay the price.
The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalization of indifference”. In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalization and exclusion.
For this reason, the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants. When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well regarded nowadays.
Tomorrow we begin a series of posts leading up to Saint Francis’ day.
The Zoo? It has to be Chester Zoo in our family, ever since his big sister was living there and took George during his herpetology phase He’d gone from learning all he could about birds to learning all he could about reptiles and amphibians. It helped that we had and still have frogs in the garden and wild lizards not far away.
But Chester Zoo had Komodo dragons. They were the main attraction in his eyes.
I preferred the smaller fry, like this little poisonous golden mantella frog from Madagascar, threatened with imminent extinction in the wild. Captive breeding in the zoo goes hand in hand with similar projects at home in Madagascar, and conservation of their habitat before all the trees are felled.
The Zoo remind us that:
NOW is the time to ACT FOR WILDLIFE. Conservation is CRITICAL; species are under threat. TOGETHER we can make a BIG difference.
Now, in Autumn, is the time to dig out a pond if your garden will take one; plant a tree or two, hang up a bird box or bug hotel. The birds may well roost in the box overwinter and spiders or insects will snooze through the winter in their comfortable guest house.
It’s a start. This comes down to the Franciscan love of creation which goes with love of the Creator. Each of us can do something; together it all adds up.
As Saint Francis and Pope Francis would say, Laudato Si! But don’t just praise God in words, try changing a square metre of earth for the better.
Pope Pius XII ordered archaeological investigations under Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome. The diggers found evidence that bones there were indeed those of the Apostle himself. Now Pope Francis has given some of these bones to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. To read the Patriarch’s reflection on this gift, follow the
Missio’s magazine, Mission Today, invites us to join Pope Francis and the whole Church in praying for his monthly prayer intentions, particularly on Fridays. We will try to share these intentions with you over the months. For September Pope Francis prays:
May politicians, scientists and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.
The picture shows Margate in Kent, a seaside resort for some 200 years. It’s not a bad spot to contemplate the seas and oceans. The sea here once carried all manner of filth thrown into the Thames upstream in London and other towns, while Margate pumped its own sewage and refuse a little way out to sea, ready to return on the next tide. 25 years ago I took a group of schoolchildren to investigate the new sewage works that put a stop to that. Now Margate has a blue flag which proudly announces that the water and sands are clean.
Furthermore, the cormorants we saw diving at Rye on 12 December last year are also to be seen on London’s river, opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is possible for politicians, scientists and economists to work together to protect the seas and oceans, and we have our part to play, from what we throw away and how we do so, to young Abel litter-picking, to what we eat. In a land with universal suffrage, we are all politicians. We are all economists, at least when we loosen the purse strings; and scientists, if we stop to think about what we are doing. Unlike TS Eliot, at Margate sands we can connect something with everything,
Missio’s magazine, Mission Today, invites us to join Pope Francis and the whole Church in praying for his monthly prayer intentions, particularly on Fridays. The Pope’s intention for August is:
May families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly ‘schools of true human growth’.
There’s a long-standing slogan in the Catholic church that parents are the first teachers of their children. Which sometimes get turned on its head where modern technology is concerned, but if parents learn to use the gifts of IT for communication and relaxation, that’s surely some kind of human growth!
As a parent and grandparent though, the responsibility is there to care for the younger generations, but also to allow them to care for me. If Abel spontaneously and carefully paints a picture for his grandmother, some human growth is going on in her heart as well as his.
That word ‘schools’ suggests that families will have their regular disciplines, that its members will know, and learn, their responsibilities towards each other. An important part of the regular discipline of a family is the shared meal. Make time for it and don’t forget Grace before eating!
The Missio magazine, Mission Today, invites us to join Pope Francis and the whole Church in praying for these monthly prayer intentions, particularly on Fridays. Now we’ve found these intentions, we’ll try to share them each month. Here is the Pope’s intention for July.
May those who administer justice work with integrity, and may the injustice present in the world not have the last word.
That seems a mountain of an intention, but Jesus did say something about mountains and faith the size of a mustard seed. (Matthew 13;31-32) Which prompts the question, what can I do to alleviate injustice? Even a few pence in a red box, or a can or two in the food bank basket; these are as much a matter of justice as of charity. It is unjust that some people live in poverty and others have their needs met and more. Using wealth, either of cash or of time, is one way to ‘administer justice with integrity’ towards our brothers and sisters. This does not take away from the wrong of unjust judges, of oppressive regimes, things beyond your influence and mine, but prayer should urge us to do what we can.