logo small
 

world map dots

  • Cluster Preparation Programme begins in India

    The Cluster Preparation Programme has begun at the Pastoral Centre, Shillong in North-East India. You can read regular updates on the  Read More
  • 14 New Christian Brothers in Africa

    At a Profession ceremony in Tamale, northern Ghana, on November 25th, 2016, fourteen men took their First Vows as Christian Brothers. Read More
  • Three Novices In India

    Our entry into the noviciate was done without much fanfare from the day of our arrival into Bhopal on June 21st. Read More
  • Visit of CLT to Taizé

    The Congregation Leadership Team has spent the first week of August in the ecumenical community of Brothers at Taizé in France. Read More
  • The Network of Callan Services

    Many Edmund Rice people are involved in a network bringing various community-based services to persons with disabilities accross Papua New Guinea. Read More
  • Four New Communities in Zambia

    "Our Way into the Future" has taken another important step. Brothers are setting up four new communities in Western Province, Zambia. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

Each week Br. Michael Burke prepares some resources to help us remember and celebrate the feast or anniversary. 

Sunday 23 July
16th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ALL EARTH DAY

Here are five places where you can find commentaries on this Sunday’s readings:
•    Under RESOURCES at the bottom of our home page: find Sunday Reflections by Julian McDonald and Richard Walsh.
•    www.silk.net/RelEd - click Mass Readings
•    www.goodnews.ie – click Gospel Commentary
•    www.liturgy.slu.edu (Also in Spanish.)
•    www.salvationhistory.com – click Sun. Bible Reflections under Daily Bread. (Also in Spanish.)

All Earth Day inviting us to celebrate our connection with the earth by planting and gardening, or by symbolic ritual.

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  (Cynthia Ozick)

Saturday 22 July
ST MARY MAGDALENE

Contemporary scholarship has subverted the popular notion of Mary Magdalene as a ‘great sinner’, telling us that the ‘casting out of seven demons’ was a reference to the curing of sickness. There is extravagant speculation about her role in the life of Jesus, but what seems clear is that she was part of his inner circle. She is even described in some early Christian writings as ‘the apostle to the apostles’, suggesting that her faith and insight strengthened that of other Christians. Significantly, all four Gospels identify her as the first disciple to encounter the risen Christ. Her place in the Scriptural accounts certainly poses a challenge to our notion of an all-male leadership of the earliest Church community! Her feastday might invite us to pray about the role of women in the Church today.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

Friday 21 July
Anticipating LIBERIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY (next week, 26th July)

Liberia is on the Edmund Rice map because of the renewed presence of the Christian Brothers, who first came to that country in 1969. Uniquely founded and colonized by freed American slaves, Liberia became independent in the mid-19th Century. It has recently emerged from long years of political instability, with the forceful influence of a women’s peace movement. The country now boasts Africa’s first female head-of-state. Today let us support in our prayers the Brothers in Gbarnga and the growth of a new branch of the Edmund Rice Network around their presence. In a country where 85% of the population live on little more than a (US) dollar a day, the spirit of Edmund Rice must surely be needed.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  (African Proverb)

Thursday 20 July
FRIEND’S DAY (DÍA DEL AMIGO)

Friend’s Day, an initiative from Latin America, is an invitation to celebrate friendship today and to make contact with both close and neglected friends.

“You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today’s the day. Say it; this is going to be my day.”  (Brendon Burchard)

Wednesday 19 July
HOTTEST/COLDEST MONTH

July is the hottest month of the year in the northern hemisphere and the coldest in the southern hemisphere – a reminder of balance and complementarity, of natural tensions and contrasts, and of opposites held together in interdependence.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  (Dalai Lama)

Tuesday 18 July
MANDELA DAY

Officially recognized by the United Nations, this international day is an invitation to spend 67 minutes (or more) doing something good for others in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service to humanity. Today would have been his 99th birthday. This global mobilization of local energy is something that will certainly resonate with members of the Edmund Rice community. See www.mandeladay.com or www.nelsonmandela.org/mandeladay for ideas and inspiration.

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”  (Marcus Aurelius)

Monday 17 July 2017
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE DAY

International Justice Day honours the fact that in our time a long-needed International Criminal Court has come into being to address crimes against humanity, such as genocide and war crimes. Today focuses our support for this emerging contribution to a more just world. For information, look up this day on www.betterworldcalendar.com or google it for leads to short videos marking the event.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started.”  (David Allen)

Sunday 16 July
15th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

‘Our Lady of Mount Carmel’ is a title given to the mother of Jesus by the earliest Carmelites, who lived on Mount Carmel and saw her as ‘the lady of the place’. A day to pray for the Carmelites, especially those with whom we collaborate. Also a day to review the contemplative dimension of our lives in the light of Mary’s example.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”  (Carl Jung)

Saturday 15 July
ST BONAVENTURE

A Franciscan saint, Bonaventure was born in present-day Italy and became famed as a medieval scholastic theologian. His death - he was probably poisoned by power-mongering politicos at a Church Council – is a sobering reminder that the Church is full of you-know-what simply because human beings are. So perhaps this is a day to pray about the imperfections within our structures.

“When you get right down to the root of the meaning of the word ‘succeed’, you find that it simply means to follow through.”  (F. W. Nichol)

Friday 14 July
BASTILLE DAY

A significant day in world history because the storming of the Bastille has become a reference point for symbolic acts of rebellion against oppression. We could pray today for all peoples caught in situations of oppression, striving to make their voices heard. And we could examine our own domestic and work situations in case there may be any unnoticed forms of oppression there.

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”  (Bernard Meltzer)

Thursday 13 July
BAHAI FEAST OF KALIMAT (WORDS)

The feast of Kalimat, and the month it starts in the Bahai calendar, celebrates the creative power of God’s Word and invites us to water the seeds of this Word in our hearts.

“If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.”  (Lucy Larcom)

Wednesday 12 July
SIMPLICITY DAY and
‘THE TWELFTH’ (NORTHERN IRELAND)

Simplicity Day is tied to the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, an early advocate of simplifying life: “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler”. Voluntary simplicity encourages us to live with “ecological awareness, frugal consumption, and personal growth” – cf www.betterworldcalendar.com

‘The Twelfth’ is a sensitive day in Northern Ireland. Recalling the 1690 Battle of the Boyne fought near Drogheda, it became a day layered with confrontation and accompanying emotions. A day to pray for the deepening of healing of Ireland’s painful memories.

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”  (John Burroughs)

Tuesday 11 July
ST BENEDICT and
WORLD POPULATION DAY

St Benedict of Nursia is known as the founder of western Christian monasticism. He founded a number of monasteries, but the Order that takes its name from him is actually a confederation of autonomous foundations sharing a common way of life. St Benedict’s ‘Rule’ is distinguished for its balance and reasonableness.

World Population Day is an initiative of the UN Development Programme. The ever-growing population of the world is now on the brink or reaching 7 billion people. UNFPA’s target is to “ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect”.

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”  (Alan Simpson)

Monday 10 July 2017
INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY and
SILENCE DAY

International Happiness Day is still in the process of being officially established – see www.happinessday.org – but it comes as a reminder of the challenge to courageously embrace happiness in our lives instead of passively waiting for better days and envying greener grass. As William Feather puts it: “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.”

Silence Day is a little-known tradition of the followers of the late Indian mystic Meher Baba. The details can easily be googled by anyone interested to know more, but the mere simple reminder is likely to have wider appeal. Silence is a little-cherished experience in today’s world – modern lifestyles almost seemed designed to shun it. Yet it remains an essential element for spiritual growth. Today might serve as an occasion to ask ourselves whether we give ourselves as much silence as we need to enable us to live with space for reflection, study, and prayer.

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”  (Martin Luther King, Jr)

Sunday 9 July
14th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
OUR LADY OF PEACE and
ARGENTINA’S NATIONAL DAY

Our Lady of Peace, a less-celebrated title given to the mother of Jesus, is a reminder of our earth’s crying need for peace as some thirty serious conflicts rage around us.

On Argentina’s National Day, let us remember in our prayer all in the Edmund Rice Network in that country.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”  (Sir John Lubbock)

Saturday 8 July
HIDDEN HEROISM

Do you remember the name Lisa Potts? Picking up on the abovementioned theme of unhyped heroism, today is also the 10th anniversary of that incident at a primary school in Wolverhampton, England, in which a disturbed individual wielding a machete wounded a number of children and adults. Lisa Potts was the injured teacher who put herself in further danger to protect her pupils. Not all heroism involves the drama of blood, but it is inspiring to notice its manifestations around us, not least within the Edmund Rice Network where – though we tend to play things low-key – there is no shortage of inspiring stories.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”  (Gail Devers)

Friday 7 July
EXTINCTION ALERT

Today is ten years since the Western Black Rhinoceros was declared extinct due to poaching – another reminder of the need for conservation of the earth’s rich range of life species. Over the past century, the near-extinction of the African white rhino was successfully reversed by conservation efforts, but in the past few years there has been an alarming rise in poaching. In South Africa, where the great majority of white rhinos are found, the figures have risen from 13 killed in 2007, to 83 in 2008, to 122 in 2009, to 333 in 2010, and so on. Increasingly these killings are hi-tech international operations, and typically they involve the brutal hacking off of the animal’s horns (Spot the brute…) See the website www.SaveTheRhino.org

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.”  (Doris Day)

Thursday 6 July
SAINT MARIA GORETTI and
BIRTHDAY OF THE CURRENT DALAI LAMA

Just over 100 years ago, eleven-year-old Maria Goretti was stabbed to death for resisting a rape attempt. The story of this obscure Italian peasant girl was highlighted when the Church canonized her as a martyr. But there are countless others whose heroic faithfulness to values goes unacknowledged; many of us have met such people. I once had the privilege of hearing a gang-rape survivor tell her story, which included (like Maria) a liberating decision to forgive. Today let us pray for all those whose hidden heroism – and wounds – we have come across or heard about, and for the gifts needed by those who are subject to any kind of abuse and intimidation.

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Now semi-retired, the current (14th) Dalai Lama continues to be a voice of wisdom treasured by a world thirsting for spirituality.

“Example has more followers than reason.”  (Bovee)

Wednesday 5 July
HELLO, DOLLY!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the cloning of Dolly, the world’s most famous sheep, cloned from an adult somatic cell. The occasion might call us to bring to prayer our hopes and concerns relating to the burgeoning of science and technology in our times.

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” (John Homer Miller)

Tuesday 4 July
USA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

USA’s Fourth of July Independence Day tradition dates back to 1776. Let us include in our prayers today all who make up the Edmund Rice Network in the US – Christian Brothers, Presentation Brothers, and all the other Edmund Rice groups and communities that have grown up around them and the institutions that they founded.

“There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found while journeying east and west. The only folks we really wound are those we love the best. We flatter those we scarcely know. We please the fleeting  guest. And deal full many a thoughtless blow to those who love us best.”  (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

Monday 3 July 2017
St THOMAS

The Apostle Thomas seems best remembered for the story of his doubts, told in John 20:24-29, which is usually read as the Gospel at Mass all around the globe on his feastday. Perhaps this is because doubt is part and parcel of thinking, so it is an experience with which all can identify. A wise saying (with a gospel template and tinge) encourages us: “You have been told not to doubt. But I tell you this: doubt, because it is doubt that will get you your education” (source forgotten). In our prayer today, perhaps we can bring our doubts into God’s presence, and express gratitude for the gift of doubt.

“The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better.”  (Barbara Pletcher)

Sunday 25 June
12th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.”  (Albert Einstein)

Saturday 24 June
BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

John the Baptist remains a great model of authenticity: he consistently pointed to Christ and avoided the trap of using his drawing-power to build a cult of his own. In our prayer today, we might deepen our alertness to the perennial tendency for ministry to become an end in itself, for institutions to become self-serving, and for founding purposes to become hijacked by other agendas.

“Love all God's creations, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in All.”  (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

Friday 23 June
UNITED NATIONS PUBLIC SERVICE DAY and
SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Recognising “that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service”, the UN set up this day “to commend and to encourage exemplary public service”. The associated awards underline “the values of teamwork, innovation, and responsiveness to the public”. A day to pray for all those who work in the public service.

June is traditionally the special month associated with the enduring devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Though some of its expressions can by quite syrupy, even these are a code for faith in a God who is warmly loving, as experienced in the humanity of Jesus. June happens also to be the month of the rose, popular culture’s symbol of love.

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.”  (Warren Bennis)

Thursday 22 June
INTERFAITH DAY and
ST THOMAS MORE & ST JOHN FISHER

Interfaith Day turns our attention to the richness of humanity’s spiritual traditions. There has been an observable movement from yesteryear’s ‘tolerance’ to our time’s growing spirit of mutual appreciation and respect for diversity. For the Edmund Rice Network, this reflects an openness to ‘a bigger God’ and a determined effort to avoid fashioning God in our own image.

St John Fisher and Thomas More, canonized together, were two 15th/16th Century Englishmen – the first a lawyer and statesman, the second a Bishop – who stood up for the truth without compromise, at the cost of their lives. Their stories are well covered on the web’s Wikipedia.

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”  (Humphry Davy)

Wednesday 21 June
WORLD MUSIC DAY and
ABORIGINAL DAY IN CANADA and
LONGEST/SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR

World Music Day celebrates the international language of music, sometimes called “the language of God”. Our prayer today might make a point of using music as a window into the divine that pervades our lives and our world.

Canada’s Aboriginal Day acknowledges the cultures and the contributions of this country’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

The Solstice brings us to the longest day of the Northern summer (Midsummer’s Day) and the shortest day of the Southern winter (Midwinter’s Day), and serves as a reminder of the oneness of our world with all its vast diversity.

“Disgust and resolve are two of the great emotions that lead to change.”  (Jim Rohn)

Tuesday 20 June
WORLD REFUGEE DAY

Today draws our attention to the plight of the world’s 40 million uprooted people. This time last year, a petition entitled #WithRefugees was launched to send a message to governments to do their part in responding - details can be found via the site www.unhcr.org

“Life is the sum of all your choices.”  (Albert Camus)

Monday 19 June 2017
NEVER-AGAIN DAY

Uruguay celebrates ‘Never Again’ Day, cueing the rest of humanity to identify what to put in the ‘never again’ category.

“If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments.”  (Zig Ziglar)

Sunday 18 June
CORPUS CHRISTI SUNDAY and
AUTISTIC PRIDE DAY and
WORLD PICNIC DAY

Autistic Pride Day is described as “a celebration of the neurodiversity of people in the autism spectrum”. It represents a shifting view of autism from disease to difference, and of autistic people as unique individuals rather than cases for treatment. For information you can look up the day in Wikipedia or see www.autistics.org

Picnic Day, one of the lighter World Days, reminds us to put some energy into upping the fun quotient in our lives, including our spiritual lives.

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”  (Dorothy Thompson)

Saturday 17 June
WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Desertification and drought mean deterioration of land and water-sources, threatening the livelihood and security of people. This UN-sponsored day calls for the support of our awareness, prayer, and advocacy.

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.”  (Freidrich Engels)

Friday 16 June
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD

This Day of the African Child is pinned to the anniversary of the 1976 uprising of thousands of schoolchildren in Soweto, South Africa, in protest against the poor quality of the apartheid education offered them. The day, initiated by the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), calls attention to the many deprivations still suffered by African children, notably the dearth of opportunities for good education, a key ministry in which the Edmund Rice Network is involved in 8 African countries. The theme for 2016 is: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity.”

“Balance activity with serenity, wealth with simplicity, persistence with innovation, community with solitude, familiarity with adventure, constancy with change, leading with following.”  (Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Thursday 15 June
GLOBAL WIND DAY and
WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY

Wind is an alternative and renewable energy source. Today encourages the world community to participate in exploring and advancing the harnessing of this potential. For info about wind turbines, see www.globalwindday.org

Elder Abuse and neglect is a growing evil in a world of increasing longevity and fraying family fabric. Today invites us to solidarity & awareness in our prayer. See www.inpea.net/weaad.html

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  (James Baldwin)

Wednesday 14 June
WORLD BLOOD DONOR DAY

World Blood Donor Day is an occasion for acknowledging the generosity of those who donate blood without reward in order to save lives. The theme this year is “What can you do? Give blood. Give now. Give often.” See www.who.int  under Events.

“People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in a full range of matters to include the work hours you choose to maintain, how you work to improve your abilities, or what you do for your fellow workers at personal sacrifice.”  (Stephen Gregg)

Tuesday 13 June
ST ANTHONY OF PADUA

This Portuguese-born Franciscan became famous for his gift of simple and convincing preaching. His canonization within a year of his death at age 36, remains a record. Today he is best known as the saint people turn to for help in recovering lost items – the story behind this practice may be read on www.americancatholic.org/features/anthony/0-86716-202-3_np.asp

“Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you stop peddling.”  (Claude Pepper)

Monday 12 June 2017
THE PHILIPPINES INDEPENDENCE DAY

The Philippines became part of the ERN map fairly recently. Today is an invitation to pray for the people of this nation and for a blessing on the ERN presence among them. See the website www.christianbrothers.com.au/erpm

“A good goal is like a strenuous exercise - it makes you stretch.”  (Mary Kay Ash)

Sunday 11 June
TRINITY SUNDAY

“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.”  (Cherie Carter-Scott)

Saturday 10 June
82nd BIRTHDAY OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

The birthday of AA is an occasion to celebrate this great expression of the human spirit and its special contribution to the world’s spiritual heritage: the Twelve Steps. It’s a day to pray not only for alcoholics but for the expanding global understanding of addiction and all the healing-power flowing from this insight.

“Confidence... thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them, it cannot live.”  (Franklin Roosevelt)

Friday 9 June
ST COLUMBA OF IONA and
INTERNATIONAL ARCHIVES DAY

St Columba is one of Ireland’s three patron saints (along with Patrick and Brigid), so Irish missionaries have carried his name around the globe. A day for giving thanks for all the spiritual richness that the Edmund Rice Network has inherited from its Irish origins, and for praying for the Irish people and for all who work under the banner of the names Columba and Iona.

Archives play a largely-hidden and only-occasionally-appreciated role in preserving the memory of humankind’s range of cultures. This day raises our awareness of that valuable role.

“Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  (Mark Twain)

Thursday 8 June
WORLD OCEANS DAY

World Oceans Day is a UN day celebrating the world’s oceans. The theme for 2017 is: “Our oceans, our future”. Look it up on Wikipedia or on www.worldoceansday.org

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So - what the hell - leap.”   (Cynthia Heimel)

Wednesday 7 June
TRADITIONAL MONTH OF THE SACRED HEART

Some of the artwork depicting the Sacred Heart may be seen as dated and crudely literal. But the traditional ‘devotion’ to the Sacred Heart offers a reminder that is as pertinent today as it was in its heyday: it portrays the warmth of God’s love and the humanness with which God comes across to us in the person of Jesus. Perhaps you may like to focus on these qualities in your prayer today and during this month.

“Love coming out of you makes you happy. The whole world can love you, but that love will not make you happy. What will make you happy is to share all the love you have inside you. That is the love that will make a difference.”  (Don Miguel Ruiz)

Tuesday 6 June
ST MARCELLIN CHAMPAGNAT

The founder of the Marist Brothers is celebrated around this date. So let’s hold up in our prayer the world’s 4 500+ Marist Brothers and their 40 000+ associates together with the 7,000,00+ young people they currently serve in Marist schools and projects. The Marist website is www.champagnat.org – and for a focus on the Marist vocation see www.maristbr.com

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”  (Marcus Aurelius)

Monday 5 June 2017
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

World Environment Day is an annual day to raise global awareness of the need to take positive and proactive steps to protect and respect our global environment. The theme this year is: “Connecting people to nature”. See the website www.worldenvironmentday.global

“Maturity begins when we're content to feel we're right about something, without feeling the necessity to prove someone else is wrong.”  (Sydney J. Harris)

Sunday 4 June
PENTECOST SUNDAY and
TONGA’s NATIONAL DAY and
DAY OF CHILD VICTIMS OF AGGRESSION

An archipelago of about 150 islands, fewer than a third of them inhabited, Tonga is the Pacific’s only monarchy. This Polynesian nation – which can be looked up on www.state.gov – came on to the ERN map in 1983.

The UN’s International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression invites us to turn our eyes to children endangered by wars, notably in the Middle East and Africa, and to hold them in our prayer.

“We were born to succeed, not to fail.”  (Henry David Thoreau)

Saturday 3 June
SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS and
ST CHARLES LWANGA & COMPANIONS

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a way of speaking about the warmth of God’s love, as expressed in the loving humanity of Jesus. The message of this traditional Catholic ‘devotion’ remains a challenge to our images of God, so often tainted by harsh and negative experiences of authority-figures.

Charles was a Catechist in present-day Uganda. He and a number of boys and men he had baptized were murdered for adhering to their Christian faith and refusing to co-operate with the lust and political paranoia of their king.

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.”  (Eric Butterworth)

Friday 2 June
ITALY’S FESTIVAL OF THE REPUBLIC

A day to keep in prayer the people of Italy and the presence of the Edmund Rice Network in Rome in the form of the community and team at Via Marcantonio Colonna. Next week, the Christian Brothers’ leaders from all around the world will be gathering in Rome for a meeting – the support of your prayers would be appreciated.

“Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.”  (Chinese proverb)

Thursday 1 June
EDMUND RICE’s BIRTHDAY and
INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S DAY

On this day 254 years ago, Edmund Rice was born. The life that came into the world on that day is still with us, in the hearts of thousands of his followers today, including his Presentation and Christian Brothers. His story and other resources related to the man can be found under the Edmund Rice button, top right on our home page.

Though children have various days devoted to them, nationally and internationally, this date has been honoured in many countries for the past 92 years. Maybe it can serve as an invitation to link up with our own Child Rights advocacy unit in Geneva – www.edmundriceinternational.org – and become part of our corporate force for positive change. Children have always been a central focus of ministries associated with Edmund Rice, so the fact that today is also his birthday seems poetic. Today’s occasion might invite us to bring into our prayer those child-needs closest to our hearts.

“We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt.”  (Dorothy Day)

Wednesday 31 May
FEAST OF THE VISITATION and
WORLD NO-TOBACCO DAY

The story of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth while both were pregnant, is told in Luke 1:39-56, and includes the beautiful prayer that has come to be known as The Magnificat. No surprise that Luke tells this story because his gospel is particularly aware of the women in the life of Jesus and is also careful to note the counter-cultural attitude with which Jesus approached women.

World No-Tobacco Day, promoted by the World Health Organisation, is concerned not just about the health-hazards of tobacco but about its calculated promotion among the most vulnerable sectors of society. See the website www.who.int/tobacco

“The best way to raise positive children in a negative world is to have positive parents who love them unconditionally and serve as excellent role models.”  (Zig Ziglar)

Tuesday 30 May
ST JOAN OF ARC

The story of Jeanne d’Arc is well-known. Not so well-known is the fact that she was only 19 when she was burnt at the stake by a Church court. 25 years later, the Pope recognised her innocence and named her a martyr. Who are today’s Joans whose worth will only emerge clearly years after they are crushed by the agendas of today’s establishment?

“If you’re only willing to do what is easy, life will be hard. If you’re willing to do what is hard, life will be easy.”  (Bishop Eddie L. Long)

Monday 29 May 2017
FEAST OF BLESSED JOSEPH GERARD and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UN PEACEKEEPERS and
WORLD M.S. DAY

Blessed Joseph Gerard is specially remembered in the tiny mountain-kingdom of Lesotho where he helped to plant Christian faith in people’s hearts. French born, he came to southern Africa at the age of 22 as an ‘OMI’ (member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate). In his 60 years of ministry, his gift for languages was a great asset. He is one of the better known missionaries, but the history of the Edmund Rice Network is full of people of comparable generosity and faith: Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers who left all to be and share something of the Good News of Jesus with distant cultures, with all the risks involved. And today the ERN extends this spirit with its many forms of volunteerism.

International Day of UN Peacekeepers is described by the UN as “a day to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace”.

Multiple Sclerosis Day calls our attention to the two million people in the world who suffer from this disease. See the website www.worldmsday.org

“There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.”  (George Eliot)

Sunday 28 May
7th SUNDAY OF EASTER and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH

The annual International Day for Women’s Health is a reminder of how many women remain marginalized, neglected, and abused – and a call to ‘be the change’ that we desire and be part of bringing it about. See the site www.usaid.gov for info.

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”  (Hugh Downs)

Saturday 27 May
ST AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY and
NOTHING-TO-FEAR DAY

St Augustine of Canterbury, a Benedictine, is credited as playing a foundational role in the English Church. His feast-day invites us to pray for all English Christians today and to remember those active in the Edmund Rice Network in that country.

Nothing-to-Fear Day - featured in www.betterworldcalendar.com – comes from the famous Roosevelt speech made on this day. Words to the effect of “Do not fear” appear (someone has counted) 365 times in the Bible: clearly this is something God wants us to build into our spirituality.

“Only about 2 percent of people can work entirely without supervision.  We call these people leaders.”  (Brian Tracy)

Friday 26 May
FEAST OF ST PHILIP NERI and
SORRY DAY

St Philip Neri is remembered for his commonsense and cheerfulness: “A joyful heart”, he said, “is more easily made perfect than a downcast one”. Living in Italy in the 16th Century, he sensed that what was needed to influence society in his day was something different from the monastic model, so he founded the Oratorians, to whom we send greetings on his feastday.

Sorry Day is an Australian initiative “to express regret over the historical mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples”. Many nations could take a cue from this gesture. And, on an interpersonal level, ‘sorry’ may well be one of the most important words needed in our vocabulary.

“Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”  (Mary Lou Retton)

Thursday 25 May
AFRICA DAY and
start of a WEEK OF SOLIDARITY and
INTERNATIONAL MISSING CHILDREN’S DAY

Africa Day is a reminder of all there is to celebrate about Africa. Though Africa’s very real problems receive much exposure, it also has a wealth of beauty that the average tourist only skim-reads. The Edmund Rice Network around Africa is privileged to experience this beauty in powerful ways, and to share it with visitors from other parts of the network who come for immersion experiences or as volunteers. Let us pray today for the African ERN and the circles of people around them. For background to Africa Day, see the website www.africaday.info

The Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of non-Self-Governing Territories lasts till 31 May. It is an invitation to join the United Nations in “renewing the world’s commitment to supporting people aspiring towards independence while still living under colonialisation”.

Missing Children’s Day reminds us of children separated from their families, vulnerable and in danger. A good website for raising awareness is www.icmec.org

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”  (Oprah)

Wednesday 24 May
MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

The feastday of Mary Help of Christians, a simple way of appreciating Mary, was formalized nearly two centuries ago, and has been popularized by Don Bosco and his Salesian followers around the world. The feast comes as a reminder that the month of May is traditionally devoted to the mother of Jesus.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”  (Willa A. Foster)

Tuesday 23 May
WORLD TURTLE DAY

A day intended to increase our respect for turtles and tortoises and encourage action to help the world’s oldest creature to survive. “These gentle creatures have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are now rapidly disappearing”, comments one website. Their situation dramatizes the interconnection of all things and the vital importance of ecological awareness as a facet of healthy human spirituality.

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace.  Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God - the rest will be given.”  (Mother Teresa)

Monday 22 May 2017
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

The theme for this year’s UN Day for Biological Diversity is “Biodiversity and sutainable tourism”, chosen to coincide with the naming of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

“If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.”  (Socrates)

Sunday 21 May
6th SUNDAY OF EASTER and
WORLD DAY FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY FOR DIALOGUE & DEVELOPMENT

The long and unwieldy name of this Unesco-sponsored day, declared in the wake of 9/11, could be captured in the words ‘living together in harmony’. It is based on an appreciation of the world’s cultural richness as part of “the common heritage of humanity”, a diversity as necessary as bio-diversity. The declaration - which can be read on the site www.unesco.org – contains good material for reflection and prayer.

“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”  (Cadet Maxim)

Saturday 20 May
EAST TIMOR’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

Sometimes called Independence Restoration Day, because having declared itself independent of Portugal in 1975, Timor L’Este was quickly occupied by Indonesia, until 2002. The country, 400 miles north-west of Darwin, Australia, is linked into Oceania’s Edmund Rice Network, and features from time to time on our Oceania website www.edmundrice.org

“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon.  It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.”  (Louisa May Alcott)

Friday 19 May
SMILE MONTH

May is Smile Month in the UK. This simple form of non-verbal communications, enabling a heart-to-heart connection between people, even strangers, has a spiritual depth that is indeed worthy of celebration.

“The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life.”  (Dan Zadra)

Thursday 18 May
INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM DAY

This day celebrates the way museums honour cultural diversity and bio-diversity as “the common heritage of humanity”. This year’s theme: “Museums and contested histories: saying the unspeakable in museums”. See the site www.icom.museum

“We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else's idea of life.”  (James Van Praagh)

Wednesday 17 May
WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION & INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY and
WORLD HYPERTENSION DAY

Telecommunications Day highlights the wonderful possibilities of digital communication, and points to the digital divide as a structural disadvantage needing to be addressed.

Hypertension Day draws attention to ‘the silent killer’, high blood pressure, which causes 7 million deaths a year among its 1,5 billion sufferers. See the site www.worldhypertensionleague.org for simple and well-presented information about the disease.

“That is what marriage really means: helping one another to reach the full status of being persons, responsible and autonomous beings who do not run away from life.”  (Paul Tournier)

Tuesday 16 May
NATIONAL DAY OF SOUTHERN SUDAN

Africa’s newest nation, landlocked South Sudan, celebrates today as a national day.

“The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”  (Mark Twain)

Monday 15 May 2017
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES and
PARAGUAY’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

Families are such a big part of our reality and ministry that it is easy to build prayer around them. This year the particular theme of this UN-sponsored day is “Families, education and well-being”.

Paraguay is on the Edmund Rice map because of the Christian Brothers’ community, associates, and ministries in the capital, Asunción. We pray today for the people of Paraguay and in thanksgiving for all who minister there in the spirit of Edmund Rice.

“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.”  (Erica Jong)

Sunday 14 May
5th SUNDAY OF EASTER and
FAIR TRADE DAY and
ST MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE and
LIBERIA’S NATIONAL UNIFICATION DAY

Fair Trade has been promoted for half a century and this day is celebrated in over 70 countries around the globe on the second Saturday of May. See the website www.wfto.com

Matthias was the one chosen to replace Judas. The process involved an illuminating prayer: “Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these you have chosen to take over this ministry”. Let us pray that we approach all selection for ministry from this angle.

Liberia, Africa’s first republic, is on the Edmund Rice map because of the renewed presence of the Christian Brothers and the plans to extend projects there.

“How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”  (Trina Paulus)

Saturday 13 May
OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Fatima was the site of a celebrated series of apparitions of Mary in 1917, the central message of which was penance. These appearances occurred on the 13th day of six consecutive months, commencing on 13 May.

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”  (Sri Chinmoy)

Friday 12 May
INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY

Pinned to the birthday of Florence Nightingale, Nurses Day honours all those in the nursing profession, and to remember with gratitude the key role they play, often in the shadows of their higher-profile partners in the medical profession.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”  (Robert Brault)

Thursday 11 May
TECHNOLOGY DAY

Taking a cue from India which celebrates today as Technology Day, we might hold in our prayers today all the blessings of the technology upon which we depend in so many ways, and those responsible for developing it.

“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”  (John Wooden)

Wednesday 10 May
ST DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI

19th century Belgian missionary Father Damien devoted himself to an island colony of lepers in Hawaii and died of the disease himself. As the patron of outcasts, he has a special connection to the Edmund Rice Network’s focus on marginalized people.

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”  (Peter Drucker)

Tuesday 9 May
anticipating WORLD LUPUS DAY (tomorrow)

Lupus is an auto-immune disease that affects over five million people worldwide. Each year there are over 100 000 new diagnoses among young people. To call for greater awareness and research-funding for this relatively neglected disease, a world day was instituted in 2004. See the website www.worldlupusday.org

“Read books, listen to tapes, attend seminars—they are decades of wisdom reduced to invaluable hours.”  (Mark Victor Hansen)

Monday 8 May 2017
JULIAN OF NORWICH

Little is known about the life of Julian of Norwich, the English mystic, but her writings are being newly celebrated in our time. She believed in a compassionate motherly God with no trace of wrath and with an understanding of sin as the naïve mistakes we make as we learn.

“Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.”  (Brian Tracy)

Sunday 7 May
4th SUNDAY OF EASTER and
JULIAN OF NORWICH

Little is known about the life of Julian of Norwich, the English mystic, but her writings are being newly celebrated in our time. She believed in a compassionate motherly God with no trace of wrath and with an understanding of sin as the naïve mistakes we make as we learn.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

Saturday 6 May
ST DOMINIC SAVIO

14-years-old when he died of an illness, Dominic Savio is the youngest non-martyr to be named a Saint. He was a student of Don Bosco, who wrote his life story.

“It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.”  (Henri Poincare)

Friday 5 May
EDMUND RICE DAY and
WORLD ASTHMA DAY

This website offers a rich collection of resources useful in preparing prayer for this day. Click EDMUND RICE in the list of buttons at the top of the page and explore.

World Asthma Day is an occasion to pray for those who carry the burden of this condition, especially those who have inadequate access to treatment. For information see the website www.thecochrainelibrary.com and click World Asthma Day on the Home Page.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”  (Albert Einstein)

Thursday 4 May
INTERNATIONAL FIREFIGHTERS DAY and
BUDDHA DAY

The dangerous profession of firefighting is honoured on the feastday of their traditional patron saint, St Florian, and symbolized by the popular emblem of a red and blue ribbon.

The annual celebration of the birthday, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha over 2500 years ago, is a good occasion to pray for and in appreciation of all our Buddhist sisters and brothers.

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that remains is a compromise.”  (Robert Fritz)

Wednesday 3 May
SAINTS PHILIP & JAMES and
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY

One way of marking the feastday of the Apostles Philip & James would be to ponder Scriptures specifically related to them:
•    the words of Jesus to Philip: “To have seen me is to have seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (from today’s Gospel, Jn 14 : 6-14)
•    something from the letter of James, such as his words about talk in Chapter 3.

World Press Freedom Day is a reminder of a blessing taken for granted where it is well-established, but still yearned for in other countries where the lack of press freedom remains a huge obstacle to transparency and justice. For a recent world review, google WAN/Press Freedom Review, and for other awareness-raising information see the website www.wan.ifra.org and scroll down to Press Freedom.

“Pay no attention to critics. No one ever erected a statue to a critic.”  (Werner Ehrhart)

Tuesday 2 May
LAST DAY OF RIDVÁN

Ridván is the chief festival of the Bahá’í faith. The word means paradise. The final day is one of those that is specially observed in this twelve-day festival.

“Comfort is found among those who agree with you; growth among those who don’t.”  (source unknown)

Monday 1 May 2017
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY and ST JOSEPH THE WORKER

May Day has long been a focus point for awareness of the vulnerability of workers across the globe. It has become a public holiday in many countries, and been baptized as ‘St Joseph the Worker’. It prompts us to pay attention to the conditions of workers within our sphere and beyond.

“What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.”  (Martina Horner)

Sunday 30 April
3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER and
WORLD VETERINARY DAY

Here are five places where you can find commentaries on this Sunday’s readings:
•    Under RESOURCES at the bottom of our home page: find Sunday Reflections by Julian McDonald and Richard Walsh.
•    www.silk.net/RelEd - click Mass Readings
•    www.goodnews.ie – click Gospel Commentary
•    www.liturgy.slu.edu (Also in Spanish.)
•    www.salvationhistory.com – click Sun. Bible Reflections under Daily Bread. (Also in Spanish.)

Today is the 256th anniversary of the Veterinary profession and of Veterinary education. Many of us have reason to be grateful to Veterinary professionals for their skills and compassion.

“Don’t seek security, seek adventure. It’s better to live 30 years full of adventure than a hundred years safe in the corner.  (Jim Rohn)

Saturday 29 April
ST CATHERINE OF SIENA

Catherine of Siena, the extraordinarily famous Dominican saint, lived only 33 years. It is difficult to get a clear impression of her as one has to wade through the excesses of hagiography, but she comes across as a saint for our times because of her forthright and fearless call for reform of what had gone wrong in the Church. Today’s feast prompts us to pray for the courage and listening needed to respond to the crises the Church is experiencing in our time.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  (Jane Goodall)

Friday 28 April
WORLD DAY FOR SAFETY & HEALTH AT WORK

Every year two million people die of work-related causes – one-sixth of these involve accidents at work, and the rest involve illnesses arising from work. The conviction that these deaths are preventable stands behind this day of awareness, prayer, and action. See the website www.ilo.org and click 28 April on the calendar.

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the earth in the present moment; to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”  (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Thursday 27 April
SIERRA LEONE: REPUBLIC DAY  and  SOUTH AFRICA: FREEDOM DAY

A day to pray for the Edmund Rice Network in Sierra Leone and South Africa. The Christian Brothers have eight communities in Sierra Leone (with another three in other West African countries), and five in South Africa (with a sixth in neighbouring Zimbabwe) and also one ERN community in Cape Town. Growing up around these is a collection of active groups – of young people particularly – who take their inspiration from Edmund Rice.

“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”  (Dag Hammarskjold)

Wednesday 26 April
WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DAY

World Intellectual Property Day exists to reinforce awareness of justice in an area where looseness is commonplace. See the website www.wipo.int > click World IP Day.

“When you complain you make yourself a victim.  Leave the situation, change the situation or accept it.  All else is madness.”  (Eckhart Tolle)

Tuesday 25 April
ANZAC DAY in Australia and New Zealand

Anzac Day is the occasion for remembering the sacrifices of those Australians and New Zealanders who died in war. It falls on the anniversary of Gallipoli, the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.

“Never cease to count your blessings and never cease to give constant thanks for each and every one.”  (Eileen Caddy)

Monday 24 April 2017
anticipating WORLD MALARIA DAY tomorrow

World Malaria Day, being observed only for the eighth time, focuses co-operative effort to control a disease that kills a million people every year, mostly in Africa. See the websites www.worldmalariaday.org and www.rollbackmalaria/worldmalariaday

“Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible.”  (Hannah Arendt)

Sunday 23 April
2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER and
ST GEORGE’S DAY and
WORLD BOOK & COPYRIGHT DAY

St George is famed for slaying a dragon that barred people’s access to water except at the cost of daily human sacrifices. The classic symbolism of this story invites us to identify the dragons, water, and violence inherent in our contemporary situations. St George is England’s patron saint: on this unofficial English national day, let us hold up the Edmund Rice Network in England.

World Book and Copyright Day is a special occasion for appreciating books, their authors, the need to honour copyright, and the blessing of being able to read. The day was chosen because it marks the death or birth of a host of great writers including Cervantes and Shakespeare. See the website www.worldbookday.com

“Look for the gifts in everything, especially when you are facing what appears to be a negative situation.  Everything that we attract causes us to grow, which means that ultimately everything is for our own good.”  (Rhonda Byrne)

Saturday 22 April
INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY

Mother Earth Day urges the building of a healthy energy economy, and invites personal and group commitments to sustainability. A day galvanizing the solidarity of over a billion people in nearly 200 countries. See the website www.un.org/en/events/motherearthday for engaging information.

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”  (Buddha)

Friday 21 April
ROME’s BIRTHDAY

Rome’s birthday is a good occasion to remember with gratitude the Christian Brothers community in ‘the eternal city’, including the itinerant Congregation Leadership Team.

“In our lives, change is unavoidable, loss is unavoidable. In the adaptability and ease with which we experience change, lies our happiness and freedom.”  (Buddha)

Thursday 20 April
RIDVÁN begins

Before sunset this evening, there begins the twelve days of Bahai’s greatest festival, Ridván. The name means ‘paradise’ and it arose from a garden experience. As we in the Edmund Rice Network strive to open ourselves to ‘a bigger God’, during these days let us join those of the Bahai faith in celebrating the festival’s awareness that ‘all the names of God are fully manifest in all things’.

“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself -- your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers.”  (Dee Hock)

Wednesday 19 April
ANNIVERSARY OF HISTORIC ANTI-VIETNAM-WAR PROTEST

On 19 April 1971 the Dewey Canyon week of peaceful protest against the war in Vietnam began. Organized by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, whose membership reached nearly 25 000 at the height of the war, it involved commemorating those who had died, publicly unmasking what was going on, and roundly rejecting the war in powerfully symbolic ways. A vivid example of advocacy – of people standing up courageously against propaganda and party-lines, whitewash and ‘spin’, and engaging what Ernest Hemingway termed our “built-in, indestructible crap-detectors”.

“Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.”  (Stephen Covey)

Tuesday 18 April
ZIMBABWE’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

Zimbabwe celebrates today its 37th anniversary of independence. The Christian Brothers’ connection consists firstly of four Zimbabwean Brothers, secondly a boys’ high school (CBC Bulawayo) founded in 1954, thirdly an attached community serving in a variety of outreach initiatives mainly to needy schools around the city, and lastly three decades of involvement (till 2010) in the Diocese’s deep-rural Embakwe Secondary School. Through the past half-century, the country has bumped through a succession of troubles, from which the Brothers and these schools have been far from exempt. We pray today for the suffering people of Zimbabwe, for our Zimbabwean-born Christian Brothers, and for the three Brothers and others in the Edmund Rice Network ministering in Bulawayo.

“Opportunity is a haughty goddess who wastes no time with those who are unprepared.”  (George S. Clason)

Monday 17 April 2017
WORLD HAEMOPHILIA DAY

One in a thousand people suffer from a bleeding disorder, but three-quarters of those affected receive little or no treatment. This awareness day calls upon the world to “close the gap” in terms of availability of treatments.

“If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it.”  (Roger Babson)

Sunday 16 April
EASTER SUNDAY: THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
and ST BERNADETTE OF LOURDES and
WORLD VOICE DAY

The western contemporary approach to truth tends to ask “Did it really happen?” and “What exactly happened?” But those who told, and many years later wrote, the stories of what we call ‘the Resurrection’, had a different approach: to them, the truth question was “What does it mean?” Today’s celebration of the resurrection of Jesus invites us to move into that mindspace. Here are three starting points that might set us praying.

•    Firstly, Jesus didn’t ‘come back to life’ – he went on to new life with no more death ahead of him. This is something human beings yearn for, and Jesus’ experience shows that God puts this yearning in us not to be frustrated but to be fulfilled.

•    Secondly, resurrection wasn’t a miracle that Jesus performed, but something that happened to him, a final demonstration of the love of the one he called ‘Father’. And for us it is a clear demonstration that we can also totally trust in that same Father’s love and in the life-path that Jesus taught.

And thirdly, just as death was not ‘the end of the story’ for Jesus, neither is death ‘the end’ for us. Easter celebrates our confidence that by following the path of Jesus, we too can look forward to being reabsorbed into God’s love.

Here are five places where you can find commentaries on this Sunday’s readings:
•    Under RESOURCES at the bottom of our home page: find Sunday Reflections by Julian McDonald and Richard Walsh.
•    www.silk.net/RelEd - click Mass Readings > click on 16 April (for the texts themselves).
•    www.goodnews.ie – click Gospel Commentary > click on 16 April.
•    www.liturgy.slu.edu – scroll to 16 April > Get to Know the Readings. (Also in Spanish.)
•    www.salvationhistory.com – click Sun. Bible Reflections under Daily Bread. (Also in Spanish.)

Bernadette was a young teenager at the time she experienced the 19th century apparitions of Mary in a grotto near an obscure French village. Today Lourdes is a major pilgrimage site, attracting some five million pilgrims a year, and second only to France’s capital Paris in its number of hotels. The message of the Lourdes tradition affirms authentic Christian faith by underlining the value of holistic healing.

World Voice Day, started in 2002, celebrates the human voice, a gift easily taken for granted.

Saturday 15 April
HOLY SATURDAY and EASTER VIGIL
and WORLD CREATIVITY & INNOVATION WEEK

Holy Saturday is the 40th day of Lent. The starkness is even more pronounced: the church is stripped, and until the celebration of Easter (sometimes anticipated by a few hours) there is no Mass. This blank and empty day, once known as ‘Black Saturday’, focuses on the blunt fact that Jesus was really dead, not just waiting in the wings to make a surprise reappearance. Perhaps it also points to the hollowness of death’s seeming power when experienced in the context of a God whose love knows no limits. This is where the night’s Easter Vigil Liturgy invites us, as its long series of readings spells out how Jesus’ Easter experience was “in accordance with the Scriptures”…

Today is the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, and it is the start of a week described as “a celebration of our ability to get new ideas, use imagination, and make new decisions to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too”. Since it began in 2001, a great number of schools and communities have adopted it. See the website www.creativityday.org

Friday 14 April
GOOD FRIDAY and
ANIMALS

There are many people who make their sole annual visit to a church on Good Friday. It is the only day of the year when there is no Mass celebrated at any time. The Liturgy is stark, and the fact that it includes Communion, separated from the celebration of Eucharist, seems an anomaly or perhaps a compromise. The starkness reminds us, with all the power of symbolism, that Jesus actually faced the reality of death with all its daunting loss of control and certainty. All that he could hold on to as he died was a gut-trust that even death could not bring an end to his experience of God’s love. He entered even this ultimate part of human experience so as to lead us into transcending death. We say in the Creed that he ‘descended into hell’: by joining those who had died before him, he began the process of freeing all of us from being held (‘helled’) by death.

April is known in some parts of the world as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, and in other parts as Pets are Wonderful Month. Those of us who have experienced animals as little sacraments of God understand what St Francis meant when he called them our little brothers and sisters. We might mark this month by praying in gratitude for the presence of animals in our lives, and by praying that animals will be treated with respect in all human decisions that affect them.

Thursday 13 April
HOLY THURSDAY and
ST MARTIN I

What came to be known as ‘the last supper’ implies that there were many such suppers. Given the background role assigned to women by the times and the culture, one can quite reasonably wonder now whether women were present – just as one can wonder whether lamb was served (and by whom) though the texts don’t mention it. One can wonder too why the beautiful symbolism of washing feet only ‘made it’ into the Liturgy once in the year. Though the evening’s Liturgy focuses on the supper, the same night holds another story: Gethsemane. The shadow that fell over the supper’s intimacy deepens into the darkness of a lonely Jesus agonizing over imminent death, enduring betrayal and arrest, and finding himself abandoned. In our prayer today, we might hold all these experiences together, as Jesus had to do on that night. And there is the richness of John’s extensive account of the night: he devotes all of five ‘chapters’ to the supper and another half chapter to the rest of the night.

Martin was a 7th century Pope who was imprisoned and horrifyingly abused, and eventually martyred, for standing up to the Emperor on a key matter of Christian faith. Remembering Martin might challenge us to examine where we need to stand up for what we believe and treasure.

Wednesday 12 April
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT

Today is the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s becoming the first human to be launched into space, and is the third celebration of a new UN Day (preceded by the less-formal Yuri’s Night). In marking the crossing of this frontier, the world acknowledges the way space exploration has opened up not just our scientific knowledge but our whole worldview.

Tuesday 11 April
WORLD PARKINSON’S DAY

This day is intended to boost awareness of Parkinson’s Disease and “to spur new research and treatment innovations”. At this stage, it is difficult to diagnose accurately and there is no known cure. Wearing a red tulip is the customary symbol of support for those affected by the disease.

Monday 10 April 2017
TITANIC ANNIVERSARY

105 years ago today, the RMS Titanic left the port of Southampton for its first and only journey. It sank two and a half hours after hitting an iceberg in the early hours of 15 April, drowning over 1500 people in the icy North Atlantic. The story of how this icon of human prestige and technology was humiliated by human error, continues to capture the imagination and cause us to ponder. Today’s anniversary might remind us that we live in the midst of events/people/efforts whose significance will only come to be recognized afterwards - prayer is a time for sensing the significance of all that surrounds us in the present.

HOLY WEEK

If you Google ‘Free Lenten Reflections’, you’ll find a wealth of other resources to enrich your observance of Holy Week. Here are a few selected samples:
•    www.creighton.edu – click on Ministry > Daily Reflections, or Weekly Guide for Prayer.
•    www.thereflection.vividas.com – click on ‘lenten booklet’ for a Lectio Divina resource.
•    www.franciscanradio.org – offering 90-second reflections both in audio and transcript form.

Sunday 9 April
PALM SUNDAY, the start of Holy Week

“Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”  (Joseph Campbell)

Saturday 8 April
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE ROMA

The call to treat Romanies with respect and compassion has come from many world leaders, including the late Pope John Paul II. An alternative culture and lifestyle is a challenge to our thinking, and today’s honouring of the Romani people asks mainstreamers to stop and think further.

“Courage is about doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.”  (Eddie Rickenbacker)

Friday 7 April
ST JEAN-BAPTISTE DE LA SALLE

Honoured as the patron saint of teachers, De La Salle is regarded as the founder of the Catholic school. He founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools, sometimes called the De La Salle Brothers, and pioneered lay-teacher-formation. Undoubtedly he was a source of inspiration to Edmund Rice, but as Denis McLaughlin points out in his book THE PRICE OF FREEDOM, Edmund’s Christian Brothers were not an Irish branch of De La Salle’s Brothers (as certain agendas tried to distort things in the early history of the Christian Brothers). De La Salle’s innovative and wholistic educational thinking continues to provide inspiration – see www.lasalle.org – and we salute his Brothers and co-workers this week.

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”  (Joseph Campbell)

Thursday 6 April
anticipating WORLD HEALTH DAY tomorrow

The theme of this year’s World Health Day is depression. The World Health Organisation’s website – www.who.int/campaigns - calls for greater understanding of this very real disease, to lessen the stigma and encourage the seeking of help.

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  (Booker T. Washington)

Wednesday 5 April
ST VINCENT FERRER

Born in Fourteenth Century Spain, Vincent became a Dominican missionary who struggled with schism in the Church. Because of his efforts to build up the Church, he has become the patron saint of builders and is regarded as the natural patron of reconciliation. Spain also takes him as the patron saint of orphans.

“We are what we repeatedly do.”  (Aristotle)

Tuesday 4 April
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR LANDMINE AWARENESS & ASSISTANCE

When this observance began twelve years ago, there were 84 countries plagued by unexploded landmines, which were killing or maiming 15 000 to 20 000 people annually. The keeping of an annual day is an effort in the direction of ridding the earth of the filth of these perverted inventions, and undoing the paralysis they bring to development in affected territories. It is also a reminder of those who live with the fall-out that has resulted and continues to come from this disgrace to humanity.

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”  (Dag Hammarskjold)

Monday 3 April 2017
AIR TRAVEL

This week marks an important date in air travel history because the first Boeing 737 made its maiden flight 50 years ago on 9 April, and the first British-built Concorde 002 made its maiden flight on the same day two years later. We might use the occasion to express thanks for the blessings brought by plane travel, and to pray for the safety of all who take to the airways.

“In each of us are places where we have never gone. Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them.”  (Dr Joyce Brothers)

Sunday 2 April
5th SUNDAY OF LENT and
WORLD AUTISM DAY and
INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY

Autism Day is a UN-sponsored occasion for raising awareness of a disorder that affects tens of millions and is too often left undiagnosed and misunderstood. See the website www.worldautismawarenessday.org

Children’s Book Day falls on the birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the great writer of children’s stories. Reading, a window to a lifetime of joy and enlightenment and growth, begins most naturally in childhood. Which is why children’s books are so important, and why those who write, publish, and promote them have such a key role to play. Our prayer today might embrace appreciation as well as awareness-raising of our own potential contribution.

“People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives.”  (Stedman Graham)

Saturday 1 April
APRIL FOOLS DAY

Each year the surprise pranks of April Fools Day nudge us to stop taking life so over-seriously and to get in touch with our fun side and appreciate the leaven of humour, one of God’s least-sung gifts.

“Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goals.”  (Brian Tracy)

Friday 31 March
anticipating POETRY MONTH

The USA celebrates April as the month of poetry. Taking a cue from this, we might devote some of our prayer time to this form of expression – either creating a poem or reflecting upon one.

“Adversity causes some people to break, others to break records.”  (Denis Waitley)

Thursday 30 March
DOCTORS DAY

The USA celebrates Doctors today, often using the symbol of a red carnation. Though India has its own Doctors’ Day on 1 July, most countries do not, so we might take the tip to pray for and express appreciation of our Doctors on this day.

“Change cannot be avoided... change provides the opportunity for innovation. It gives you the chance to demonstrate your creativity.”  (Felice Jones)

Wednesday 29 March
COURAGE

Courage, symbolized by the birthstones of March, Aquamarine and Bloodstone, might provide a theme for our prayer today. Against the forces of conformity and peer pressure, and the harshness of unjust structures and systems, courage is the key to the coming of God’s ‘kindom’ (as the non-sexist language has creatively translated the dream of Jesus).

“God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.”  (Anna Pavlova)

Tuesday 28 March
NEW BEGINNINGS

March used to be the first month of the calendar year because in the northern hemisphere it brought Spring, the start of a new cycle. The floral emblem of March is the daffodil, herald of Spring. Before we leave this month behind, we might take up in our prayer the theme of new beginnings: the nurturing of whatever may be starting, about to be born, struggling into life…

“To respond is positive, to react is negative.”  (Zig Ziglar)

Monday 27 March 2017
WORLD THEATRE DAY

World Theatre Day celebrates the role and power of theatre in human society. It has a website – www.worldtheatreday.co – and a blog – www.worldtheatreday.org

“The greatest natural resource in the world is the spirit that resides in every unstoppable person.”  (Cynthia Kersey)

Sunday 26 March
4th SUNDAY OF LENT

“If you wish to find, you must search. Rarely does a good idea interrupt you.”  (Jim Rohn)

Saturday 25 March
THE ANNUNCIATION

There is an old Christmas hymn that runs:

“The Virgin’s womb that burden gained,
its virgin honour still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.”

The “below” idea is a lumpy metaphor, but one can swallow that. It is the notions about human sexuality that are appalling – the prissy ‘religious’ hang-ups about the body. The Incarnation was surely a celebration, not a denial, of human sexuality. And the traditional mystery of Virgin Birth is a pointer to the identity of Jesus; it is not about God viewing virginity as synonymous with “virtue” and human procreation as “stained” (or ‘maculate’). Here is a clue as to why so many people mistakenly link the Annunciation to the Immaculate Conception, which is meant to celebrate the beginning of Mary’s own life not the beginning of her motherhood. Today’s feast of the Annunciation invites our prayer to celebrate God’s gifts, notably God’s closeness to us in Christ.

“Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.”  (Dag Hammarskjold)

Friday 24 March
ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF ARCHBISHOP ROMERO and
WORLD TUBERCULOSIS DAY

Archbishop Romero was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.

Today is also a day raising awareness of the disease of Tuberculosis which is such a killer in parts of the developing world, and of efforts to eliminate it. See www.worldtbday.org

“If you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don’t , you will find an excuse.”  (Jim Rohn)

Thursday 23 March
WORLD METEOROLOGICAL DAY

A day celebrating the World Meteorological Organisation’s 60+ years of service for our safety and well-being. Let’s remember with gratitude the scientists whose faithful monitoring of weather and climate gives us forewarning to brace for short-term extremes and to adjust behaviour-patterns affecting the long-term well-being of the earth community.

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.”  (Vince Lombardi)

Wednesday 22 March
WORLD WATER DAY

The theme this year is ‘Water and wastewater’, prompting reflection on ‘how wastewater is perceived as a valuable resource in the circular economy and its safe management as an efficient investment in the health of humans and ecosystems’. See www.worldwaterday.org

“A cheerful heart has a continual feast.”  (Proverbs 15:15)

Tuesday 21 March
WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY and
WORLD POETRY DAY and
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

World Down Syndrome Day is a day to pray for all families who include someone with Down Syndrome. See www.worlddownsyndromeday.org

World Poetry Day is a UNESCO initiative to promote the reading, writing, publishing, and teaching of poetry. Perhaps we could incorporate some poetry into our prayer today.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, commemorating the infamous apartheid massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa, on 21 March 1960. The day challenges us to examine our racial stereotypes and prejudices, and invites us to celebrate racial diversity.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”  (Willie Nelson)

Monday 20 March 2017
St JOSEPH’S DAY and
anticipating WORLD FORESTRY DAY

Scripture portrays Joseph as a man who trusted the God of his dreams implicitly and deeply, taking on the role of foster-father to the child Jesus. Many in the ERN have found they relate to Joseph - a few because they are foster-parents themselves, but many more because they have in effect filled something of this role for children and teenagers. St Joseph and St Patrick are the traditional patrons of Christian Brothers Novitiates, and in this month of their feastdays, we pray for all Edmund Rice Novitiates around the globe.World Forestry Day reminds us of the beauty and value of the world’s forests, so easily threatened and sacrificed for short-term gain. If there is a forest within range of you, this special day might invite you to visit it tomorrow for a time of prayer – even as a community or group. Forests have been described as ‘God’s Cathedrals’ because of the spiritual resonance their multi-sense appeal invokes in us.

“Anyone can find the dirt in someone.  Be the one that finds the gold.”  (Proverbs 11:27)

Sunday 19 March
3rd SUNDAY OF LENT

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  (Viktor Frankl)

Saturday 18 March
anticipating THE EQUINOX (19th/20th)

The equinox is a day when the season cycles of the two hemispheres intersect, and a reminder of the broader patterns and pictures which context and unite us, not just across the globe but in the infinite sphere of an all-embracing God who holds all in being.

“To believe in a child is to believe in the future.  Through their aspirations they will save the world.”  (Henry James)

Friday 17 March
ST PATRICK

St Patrick’s Day prompts us each year to remember with gratitude all the richness that has blessed Edmund Rice’s community worldwide through his Irish context and culture. The strong missionary tradition of the Irish Church, represented in Edmund Rice’s Brothers and countless other religious Congregations, as well as groups like St Patrick’s Missionary Society, is a reminder of the missionary dimension of the Christian vocation. St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday for the Irish to celebrate their heritage, and a day for the rest of us to pray for the people of Ireland and specially for the ER Network there.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”  (Oscar Wilde)

Thursday 16 March
recalling WORLD CONSUMER RIGHTS DAY

Consumer Rights Day, marked yesterday, demands “access to safe, fair, and competitive markets in financial services for all” – look it up on www.consumersinternational.org

“We grow old when we neglect the child in us who wants to play.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

Wednesday 15 March
INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY

Established in 1997, this Day against Police Brutality arose in reaction to shameful incidents in which both suspects and innocent bystanders have been inhumanly treated by out-of-control police – increasingly such attacks are being filmed by others on the scene, and this evidence is presented to the public through social media.

“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.”  (Thomas Carlyle)

Tuesday 14 March
WHITE DAY

Coming a month after Valentine’s Day, White Day is an occasion for reciprocation – in particular, men giving generous gifts to women – a recently developed custom in Eastern countries, commercial in origin but with creative potential.

“Don’t say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.”  (Jackson Brown Jr)

Monday 13 March 2017
ST JOSEPH’S MONTH

Traditionally March has been associated with Saint Joseph. Scripture portrays him as a man who trusted the God of his dreams implicitly and deeply, taking on the role of foster-father to the child Jesus. Many in the ERN have found they relate to Joseph - a few because they are foster-parents themselves, but many more because they have in effect filled something of this role for children and teenagers.

“In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy.”  (Karl Reiland)

Sunday 12 March
2nd SUNDAY OF LENT and
WORLD DAY AGAINST CYBER CENSORSHIP

First celebrated in 2009, the observance of a day against cyber censorship is a request from Reporters without Borders and Amnesty International in the interests of press freedom.

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”  (Wayne Dyer)

Saturday 11 March
COURAGE

The birthstones of the month of March, Aquamarine and Bloodstone, denote courage – once described as “fear that has said its prayers”. Our prayer at this time might turn to those matters in our lives, and in the area of contemporary spiritual warfare, that call for courage.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”  (John Maxwell)

Friday 10 March
WORLD KIDNEY DAY and
MONTH OF MARCH

The second Thursday of March is World Kidney Day, an occasion designed to enhance global health awareness. Our prayer today could focus on appreciation of good health, so easily taken for granted, and on those marginalized by chronic and intense dis-ease. A website to look up: www.worldkidneyday.org

This month is named after Mars, the god of war, perhaps because northern Spring was traditionally the time for military campaigns to begin. That armed conflicts and armed ‘forces’ have survived their 19th century sell-by date, is an embarrassing disgrace to contemporary humanity. That obese military budgets and the sale of arms for use against our world’s most vulnerable peoples should be a cog in our world’s economic machine, is one of the foul sins of our times. But that spiritual warfare has become even more a necessity in a time of such pervery, is self-evident and provides constant matter for our prayer.

“Whenever encountering a troublesome person, do not identify him as being cruel or stupid or rude or anything else like that. Instead, see him as a frightened person.”  (Vernon Howard)

Thursday 9 March
ST FRANCES OF ROME

Though Frances died as a Religious, she spent most of her years as a wife and mother whose trials and sufferings led her deeper and deeper into service, both in her home setting and beyond. In her later years she founded a lay order of women mainly living in ordinary family circumstances. Her life stands as a testament to the ordinary path of learning the wholeness that is known as holiness, hallowedness, sainthood.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”  (Kenneth Blanchard)

Wednesday 8 March
WORLD WOMEN’S DAY and
ST JOHN OF GOD

International Women’s Day is being marked today for the 106th time. It’s a day for celebrating the achievements of women, but also for expressing solidarity with women who continue to experience discrimination in many cultures and situations – in the work-world, in law, in the church - in terms of opportunities, resources, and power. Look up the site: www.internationalwomensday.com

St John of God became transformed through his own traumatic experiences. Most notably, he was exposed to the rawness of a 16th century ‘madhouse’ when others misinterpreted the disorientation that accompanied his conversion. The outcome was a deep compassion for those on the margins of society. He expressed this through nursing the destitute and providing them with hospital facilities, leaving behind a congregation now popularly known as the John of God Brothers.

“Only when your memories are more important to you than your goals are you old.”  (Nido Qubein)

Tuesday 7 March
ST PERPETUA & ST FELICITY

These two nursing mothers were martyred at the start of the 3rd century in what is now Tunisia. They are now among the few women mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Perpetua was 22 and Felicitas, her slave, had given birth just two days before they were turned over to wild animals and then put to the sword. Their willingness to die in testifying to their faith is a reminder of a profound gift not-to-be-taken-for-granted.

“Confidence on the outside begins by living with integrity on the inside.”  (Brian Tracy)

Monday 6 March 2017
GHANA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

In 1957 Ghana was the first ‘black’ African country to become independent of a colonial power, becoming the forerunner in a movement that spread right across the continent of Africa. Today the ERN is represented in Ghana by several communities of Presentation Brothers and Christian Brothers, including two Novitiates.

“Experience is not what happens to you - it's how you interpret what happens to you.”  (Aldous Huxley)

Sunday 5 March
1st SUNDAY OF LENT and
THE APPROACH OF NORTHERN SPRING AND SOUTHERN AUTUMN

By this time of the year, most of the world (except places close to the equator or the poles) are picking up little signs of the coming of a change of season – our regular reminder that “all things are passing; only God is unchanging”. Perhaps reflecting on the current signs may help us get in touch prayerfully with the subtler changes we are undergoing at this time in our lives.

“There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere and leaving it behind them when they go.”  (Frederick William Faber)

Saturday 4 March
WORLD DAY OF THE FIGHT AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION and
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER

This World Day of the Fight against Sexual Exploitation is a little-established occasion with which the ERN can identify and whose concern we can bring to prayer, in solidarity with all who suffer from this evil. UNICEF estimates that over 3 million children are involved in prostitution around the world.

The first Friday of March has become established by Christian women across the globe as special day of prayer affirming “that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world” – a notion which the ERN will readily own. An internet reference is www.worlddayofprayer.net

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”  (Jim Valvano)

Friday 3 March
ST KATHARINE DREXEL

St Katharine Drexel, who lived from the mid-19th till the mid-20th century, became the second-ever American-born canonized saint. She dedicated her life and her family fortune to the needs of oppressed racial minorities in the USA – Native Americans and African-Americans – concentrating on the provision of education. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, over 60 missions and schools, and the only historically-Black University in the US, Xavier University of Louisiana.

“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all Mankind.”  (Emily P. Bissell)

Thursday 2 March
ST JOSEPH’S MONTH

Traditionally March has been associated with Saint Joseph. Scripture portrays him as a man who trusted the God of his dreams implicitly and deeply, taking on the role of foster-father to the child Jesus. Many in the ERN have found they relate to Joseph - a few because they are foster-parents themselves, but many more because they have in effect filled something of this role for children and teenagers.

“The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.”  (Jim Rohn)

Wednesday 1 March
ASH WEDNESDAY, the START OF LENT, and
INTERNATIONAL DEATH PENALTY ABOLITION DAY

‘Lent’ means Spring, and though it only partly overlaps with the early part of northern Spring, and falls in the early southern Autumn, Lent is very much a spiritual Springtime. It’s a time for new shoots, renewed growth, fresh flowering. It’s an occasion for ‘spring-cleaning’, for clearing the clutter of our lives, for ‘servicing’ and taking stock of our total humanity. Externals like the ashes and fasting and abstinence are, as the Lenten Biblical readings bluntly remind us, only meaningful if they express an internal movement of the heart, the about-turn that Jesus termed ‘metanoia’. If you Google ‘Free Lenten Reflections’, you’ll find a wealth of other resources to enrich your Lent. Here are a few selected samples:
•    www.creighton.edu – click on Ministry > Daily Reflections.
•    www.thereflection.vividas.com – click on ‘lenten booklet’ for a Lectio Divina resource.
•    www.franciscanmedia.org – offering 90-second audio reflections.

More than two-thirds of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty, but a chilling chart on www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty shows how the practice persists around the globe, including a few countries where the Edmund Rice Network has a presence. Information about this world movement can be found by looking up www.hrea.org > Learning Centre > International Death Penalty Abolition Day.

“When you maximize your talents, you’re on path, on purpose, on target. When you don’t, you’re off path, off purpose, off target.”  (Kevin Hall)

Tuesday 28 February
RARE DISEASE DAY

Rare Disease Day, usually on the last day of February, is an awareness-raising occasion of interest to the ERN because it extends our concern to another part of the margins of society. The website www.rarediseaseday.org explains: “The rare disease patient is the orphan of health systems, often without diagnosis, without treatment, without research, therefore without reason to hope.”

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you ever be polished?”  (Rumi)

Monday 27 February 2017
ST GABRIEL

Not the Archangel, but the mortal man. In fact mortality struck very early for this Italian Passionist seminarian – he died at 23 - and Gabriel has become a patron of all students, youth, and seminarians. His life is a reminder that sanctity is not always linked to venerable old age.

“Books are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.”  (Barbara Tuchman)

Sunday 26 February
8th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
First day of BAHÁ’Í FESTIVAL of AYYÁM-I-HÁ and
RARE DISEASE DAY

The origin of this festival is complicated, but it has become known as the “Bahá’í Christmas” because it is a time of gift-giving, generosity, and goodwill, celebrating the oneness of God through the showing of love, fellowship, and unity.

Rare Disease Day, usually on the last day of February, is an awareness-raising occasion of interest to the ERN because it extends our concern to another part of the margins of society. The website www.rarediseaseday.org explains: “The rare disease patient is the orphan of health systems, often without diagnosis, without treatment, without research, therefore without reason to hope.”

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”  (William Channing)

Saturday 25 February
ST WALPURGA

An 8th Century English nun who together with her uncle and two brothers became a missionary to the people of the Frankish Empire. She is believed to be the first female author in the history of both England and Germany. A day, perhaps, to celebrate with gratitude the initiatives of anyone whose drive has had a positive impact on our lives.

“You can’t do it unless you can imagine it."  (George Lucas)

Friday 24 February
NATIONAL ARTIST DAY IN THAILAND

Thailand’s practice of having a special day to honour its distinguished artists is a reminder of the contribution of all artists to our society: through their insight, they share through different media such gifts as enlightenment, upliftment, vision, celebration, provocation, and challenge. This day could prompt us to pray for all artists who, without even meeting us, have affected and enriched us.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

Thursday 23 February
WORLD ISLAM DAY

Timed to celebrate the completion of the Islamic faith, this day was recently proposed for adoption and was marked for the first time 8 years ago. It provides an opportunity to pray in gratitude for the ways in which Islam has enriched the human community with its insights and with values such as justice and peace. And it is a reminder to pray for our Muslim colleagues, friends, and neighbours. See www.worldislamday.org

“I make progress by having people around me who are smarter than I am – and listening to them.  And I assume that everyone is smarter about something than I am.”  (Henry Kaiser)

Wednesday 22 February
ST LUCIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
and WORLD THINKING DAY

St Lucia is on the Edmund Rice map because of the presence of the Presentation Brothers. It also has a less-tangible connection with the African ERN through the enslaved Africans who became part of this mountainous island’s population and history. St Lucia, one of the windward islands in the eastern Caribbean on the edge of the Atlantic, celebrates today its 38th anniversary of independence from British rule. We pray today for the people of St Lucia and especially those who live and spread the values and vision of Edmund Rice.

Thinking Day is a product of the international Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting movement. Its theme this year is: “Take action together”. In our prayer today we are invited to align our hearts with this aim. See www.worldthinkingday.org

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where our thoughts take you.”  (James Allen)

Tuesday 21 February
WORLD LANGUAGE DAY

Today we celebrate the gift of human language and of the cultural diversity that language represents. It’s also an alert to the danger that 40% of our world’s 6000-odd languages may disappear in the course of this century – that’s an average of two languages vanishing every month. “Every time we lose a language”, says language authority David Crystal, “we lose one vision of the world.” Most of the languages-at-risk have no literature, so they would disappear without trace, taking with them the wisdom and values of their culture, and leaving our world poorer for their passing. Today is a day for reinforcing our appreciation of diversity and dialogue.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”  (Stephen Levine)

Monday 20 February 2017
WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

This day has special importance to the worldwide Edmund Rice community because it focuses on solidarity with all who are marginalized: people who are poor and hungry and unemployed, people who are excluded and powerless and without opportunities, people who are treated unfairly and are prevented from getting a fair share within the human community. For a succinct outline of the day’s focus, look it up on www.timeanddate.com – and for a range of applications, explore the EDMUND RICE INTERNATIONAL website.

“One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”  (Sigmund Freud)

Sunday 19 February
7th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ETHNIC EQUALITY DAY

Expanding the Black History Month, Ethnic Equality Day sees the month of February as “a time to honour all peoples and their positive traditions, a time to meditate on the equality of all peoples, on the respect due to them”, and on the Divine Presence dwelling in all of them.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road ... unless you fail to make the turn.”  (source unknown)

Saturday 18 February
THE GAMBIA: INDEPENDENCE DAY

Although the Christian Brothers interrupted their presence in The Gambia some years ago, and a visit to explore re-establishing ties appeared to meet an unfriendly response from church authority, the West African District – which includes Gambian-born brothers – would like to return. In colonial days, The Gambia was marked out as roughly a canon-ball’s range on both sides of the River Gambia. This day celebrates independence from Britain, attained half a century ago. Let us pray today for the people of this tiniest nation on the African continent, and especially for those who have been drawn into the Edmund Rice community.

“We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.  You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.”  (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr)

Friday 17 February
2006 MUDSLIDE IN THE PHILIPPINES

The eleventh anniversary of the massive mudslide that killed upwards of 1100 people in the Philippines may be an occasion for praying for all who have lost their lives in natural disasters during our lifetime, and for all whose lives are forever scarred by the losses they sustained in such events.

“Every memorable act in the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.”  (Og Mandion)

Thursday 16 February
ST ELIAS & COMPANIONS and ST JULIANA

Elias and Juliana are among the lesser-known saints martyred for their Christian faith in the early 4th Century. The term ‘martyrdom’ conjures up images of physical violence and cruelty. We might reflect today on who is undergoing martyrdom in our own time. Today’s forms of martyrdom tend to be subtler and less easily recognized; yet, though the violence and cruelty are less likely to be physical, they are just as brutal and destructive.

“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass... It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  (Viviane Greene)

Wednesday 15 February
NIRVANA DAY and
INTERNATIONAL CHILDHOOD CANCER DAY

Also called ‘Parinirvana’, and sometimes observed a week earlier, this Mahayana Buddhist holiday is widely honoured. Celebrating the death of the Buddha as an achievement of total freedom and transcendence, it underlines the Buddhist vision of the impermanence of physical life, an idea with resonances in many different faith-views.

International Childhood Cancer Day raises our awareness of children with cancer. With early detection and proper treatment, 70% of childhood cancers can be cured (see www.icccpo.org). Today let us join in praying with the parents and communities of children suffering from cancer, and for access to the necessary medical attention.

“The greatest good we can do for others is not to share our riches with them, but to reveal their own.”  (Benjamin Disraeli)

Tuesday 14 February
ST VALENTINE’S DAY

Just who St Valentine may have been is lost in a blur of multiple martyrs of Rome by that name. The origin of the day may relate to these legends, or to the start of the mating season among birds, or to the baptizing of a pagan festival involving a primitive kind of pairing/dating agency. Though no longer on the Catholic calendar, the irrepressible popularity of St Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love and intimacy suggests a need for feastdays that are relevant to our lived experience. Realistically, how much enthusiasm is generated for the Way of Jesus by creaky churchiferous observances such as the ‘Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica’? Already the Church has baptized or endorsed certain World Days, and started a new generation of ‘feastdays’ such as its World Day of Peace (1 January). Imagine the Church replacing some its dustier Doctors and pallid Pastors and vapid Virgins with feastdays to honour childhood and old age, justice and inclusion, parenting and service, artists and creativity, faithfulness and friendship, courtesy and kindness, masculinity and femininity. Imagine how it might ground and re-energise our gatherings for liturgy.

“One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power of lighting one’s own fire.”  (John Foster)

Monday 13 February 2017
WORLD RADIO DAY

Radio, because it is inexpensive and widely accessible, has a special role in communication and access to information. It reaches the poor, the vulnerable, and the remote. Today we celebrate this gift and ponder how we might better use this medium in service of the marginalized. See www.worldradioday.org

“The foundation of confidence in virtually every field is preparation.”  (Brian Tracy)

Sunday 12 February
6th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
DARWIN DAY and
RED HAND DAY

Charles Darwin was born on this day just over 200 years ago. The day celebrates all the ways in which science has enriched our lives, and Darwin’s contribution in particular, notably the opening up of awareness of the wonders of evolution.

Red Hand Day is a United Nations day drawing attention to the fate of child soldiers. The utterly perverted practice of forcing children to ‘serve’ as soldiers in armed conflicts is still widespread, and the aftermath in their lives is devastating, efforts at rehabilitation varying “from inadequate to non-existent”.

“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”  (Calvin Coolidge)

Saturday 11 February
OUR LADY OF LOURDES and WORLD DAY OF THE SICK

The fascinating story of Lourdes goes back a century and a half, 11 February being the date of the first appearance of “the lady” to 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous. Whether regarded with faith or skepticism or ridicule, the Lourdes story cannot be ignored. And its message urging prayer and penance “for the conversion of sinners” is clearly in harmony with the message of Jesus, which is why it is among the very few apparitions to have been given official recognition by the Church. The compelling cures associated with Lourdes, since Bernadette was led to uncover a spring of water, have led to the naming of this day as the World Day of the Sick.

“Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

Friday 10 February
ST SCHOLASTICA

Not much is known about Scholastica, the twin sister of St Benedict, who headed a monastery of nuns a few miles from Monte Cassino, except the legends of her faith and devotion to God. Her feast day reminds us to pray for the Benedictine family around the world.

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.”  (source unknown)

Thursday 9 February
ST MAROUN

A 4th-5th Century mystic monk, Maroun spent his days on a mountain in Syria. His enthusiasm for Christ attracted many in Syria and Lebanon to discipleship and gave rise to the Maronite movement within the Catholic Church.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Wednesday 8 February
SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA, PATRON OF THE SUDAN and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER & AWARENESS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Born in the Darfur region of Sudan, and kidnapped into illegal and brutal slavery at the age of 9, Bakhita ended up in Italy. When her ‘owners’ came to fetch her and their daughter from the care of the Canossian Sisters, the newly baptized Josephine refused to leave the Convent. Her rights were upheld by Italian law, and she joined the Sisters, remaining in Italy with them till her death 50 years later in the mid-20th Century. Her memoirs have been published. She is the first African to be canonized (in 2000) for many centuries. Her feast day gives us a special occasion to pray for the victims of the widespread trafficking of women and children in our own times, and for the people of newly created South Sudan and the Yambio community of Christian Brothers who represent the ERN among them.

A Catholic initiative tied to St Bakhita’s day, this annual day of prayer and awareness against trafficking began only recently, in 2015. Trafficking, described on the website www.zenit.org as “one of the worst examples of slavery in the XXI Century”, is reported to affect some 21 million people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, in a variety of forms: “sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging, illegal organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation”. We are invited to join in a worldwide counter-force of prayer and care.

“Love without action is meaningless and action without love is irrelevant.”  (Deepak Chopra)

Tuesday 7 February
GRENADA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY

Grenada is on the ERN map because of the presence of the Presentation Brothers (see www.presentationbrothers.com and type ‘Grenada’ in the Search slot). This Eastern Caribbean nation, consisting of three islands, the Grenadines (the largest being the mountainous Grenada with its forests and mangrove and coral reef, the second the hilly Carriacou, and the smallest Petit Martinique), grows the world’s highest concentration of spices including a third of all our nutmeg. On this 41st anniversary of their independence from Britain, let us remember in prayer the circles of Grenadians around the Presentation Brothers.

“People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives.”  (Stedman Graham)

Monday 6 February 2017
NEW ZEALAND’S WAITANGI DAY and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ZERO TOLERANCE TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Waitangi Day, commemorating the signing of a now-controversial treaty 170+ years ago in New Zealand, remains a focus of the pain and ambivalence of a colonial past. The solemnity of the day’s celebration in New Zealand is in amusing contrast with the more flamboyant tradition of a Kiwi pubcrawl via the London Underground. But this day serves as an occasion to hold in prayer all the people of New Zealand, and in particular the country’s remarkable Edmund Rice Network.

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is an annual UN-sponsored day to promote the eradication of this practice. The slogan originated in Nigeria over a decade ago and spread to an international awareness.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”  (Joseph Campbell)

Sunday 5 February
5th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST AGATHA

The core of St Agatha’s story is the consecration of her virginity to Christ. The strength of her faith enabled her to endure sustained sexual assault and humiliation, and finally martyrdom. Instead of getting lost in pious peripherals (like St Agatha loaves – based, apparently, on a mistaken interpretation of what her portrait shows her carrying on a platter), our prayer today could focus on all who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and all who are being treated as sexual objects or slaves, especially those who have no one to turn to except God.

“It is the familiar that usually eludes us in life. What is before our nose is what we see last.”  (William Barrett)

Saturday 4 February
WORLD CANCER DAY

World Cancer Day focuses our attention on a disease that currently kills more people than AIDS, Malaria, and TB combined. The energy is around knowledge – to minimize the risk, enable early detection, and help manage the disease – and also around advocacy, to make treatment available. Over 40% of cancers are potentially preventable – by attention to diet and exercise, by avoidance of smoke and of excessive exposure to sun and alcohol. Of special interest to the ERN is the fact that the world’s poorest countries are the ones hardest hit by cancer: two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in countries where cancer-control resources are scarcest. Among various symbols used in consciousness-raising is the daffodil, a token of hope looking towards a day when cancer is no longer life-threatening. Let us not only pray for that day but for all who are threatened by the disease in our time, especially those who lack protective knowledge and resources.

“Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.”  (Arthur Schopenhauer)

Friday 3 February
ST BLAISE’S DAY and
“WIND OF CHANGE”

St Blaise was a Bishop in the early Church, and also a physician, who was brutally martyred for his Christian faith. He became famous for healing problems of the throat, and is still invoked for throat diseases – a traditional practice on his feastday (coming the day after Candlemas) is the blessing of throats with crossed candles.

On this day in 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan used the now-famous phrase “wind of change” as a prelude to the era of decolonization that was about to unfold across the continent of Africa. His speech in Cape Town, a more-publicised repeat of that given in Accra the previous month, also sent out a clear challenge to South Africa’s apartheid policies of the time. As we thank God for all the good that the “wind of change” has blown, let us also be open to the changes needed at this time.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”  (John Lubbock)

Thursday 2 February
PRESENTATION OF THE BOY JESUS IN THE TEMPLE and
WORLD DAY FOR CONSECRATED LIFE and
WORLD WETLANDS DAY

The Presentation in the Temple is also known as ‘The Purification of Mary’ – 40 days after the birth of Jesus, Jewish Law had Mary attend a ritual purification and then present her first-born son in the Jerusalem Temple. The feast is also known as ‘Candlemas’ – the day on which candles are traditionally brought to be blessed in Church and taken home, reminding us that we need to allow the light of Jesus to penetrate our minds and hearts and take that light ‘home’, into our everyday lives. Incidentally, this is not the day from which the Presentation Sisters and Brothers take their name – the Presentation of Mary (‘Presentation Day’) is celebrated in November.

World Day for Consecrated Life is a day to celebrate and pray for those who have consecrated themselves to God by the vows traditionally known as Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. Within the Edmund Rice Network we have two such groups, the Presentation Brothers and the Christian Brothers; and many of us have ties with several other congregations of men and women: let us keep them all in our prayer today.

World Wetlands Day is intended to raise our awareness of the value and importance of wetlands – see the website www.ramsar.org

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  (Carl Sandburg)

Wednesday 1 February
ST BRIGID, BISHOP and
BLACK HISTORY MONTH

St Brigid of Kildare is one of Ireland’s patron saints. Today she comes to us wrapped in many layers of legend, but the general drift is that she was a woman of extraordinary power in 5th/6th Century Ireland, founder and leader of monasteries which were nodes of learning and of Christian faith and influence. A persistent legend holds that she was a Bishop, an intriguing thought in the context of the current Church debate (and non-debate) about the ordination of women.

Black History Month is observed in North America during the month of February; in the USA it is called African American History Month. In the UK it is observed in October. It celebrates the story of the world’s African diaspora – all that has been endured and achieved by people of African origin who have become scattered around the globe both by force and by choice.

“The height of your accomplishments is determined by the depth of your convictions.”  (William F. Scolavino)

Tuesday 31 January
ST JOHN BOSCO

Don Bosco, a 19th Century Italian Priest, had a special gift for attracting disadvantaged youth to a healthy and holistic lifestyle. He saw education as “a matter of the heart” and the three watchwords of his ‘preventive system’ were reason, religion, and kindness. Founder of today’s Salesians and co-founder of their sister-congregation, the Salesian Sisters, he also started a lay movement of Salesian Cooperators, way ahead of most similar developments in other charism-based families. There is a striking resonance between the vision of John Bosco and that of Edmund Rice, which serves as a reminder of the gospel roots of our mission.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.”  (Benjamin Franklin)

Monday 30 January 2017
MARY WARD, FOUNDER OF THE LORETO SISTERS

Mary Ward was declared ‘Venerable’ just over five years ago, at the time of the 400th anniversary of the Congregation she founded, the Loreto Sisters (IBVMs). Her Institute was suppressed in 1631, and it was only in 1877 that it was recognized by the Church. Mary Ward could not be called ‘Foundress’ until 1909, some two and a half centuries after her death. Her ‘sin’ was that she dared to found a congregation of non-enclosed, apostolic women. Now she is being praised by the Church for her ‘heroic virtue’. Something comparable happened to other visionary women founders, such as Catherine McAuley (who founded the Sisters of Mercy in 19th Century Ireland) and Mary MacKillop (the Josephite Sisters’ Australian founder, excommunicated by the 19th Century Church, and canonized in 2010). Indeed our own Edmund Rice was subject to vicious vilification and rejection in his time. The lesson may be to look at who is being rejected in our time.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”  (Arthur Ashe)

Sunday 29 January
4th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST JUNIPER’S DAY and
WORLD LEPROSY DAY

A contemporary and follower of St Francis of Assisi, Brother Juniper had extraordinary patience, simplicity, and generosity. Known as ‘the jester of the Lord’ for his playfulness, he seems to have been quite a character. Francis said of him: “Would that I had a whole forest of such Junipers”.

Leprosy, though still a significant disease in many countries, may well become eradicated through medical advances. Air-borne rather than caught by skin-contact as was previously believed, it isolated sufferers. As Mother Teresa pointed out, today’s more common equivalent might be “the feeling of being unwanted”. On this awareness-raising day we might keep in mind all who suffer any kind of isolation, as well as those scientists who are working towards eliminating diseases that isolate people.

“Maybe you can't change the whole world, but if you have love in your heart you can make small differences every day, which really does change the world, one life at a time.”  (Kristina Koncz)

Saturday 28 January
ST THOMAS AQUINAS and
DATA PRIVACY DAY

Thomas of Aquino was a hugely influential 13th Century Dominican philosopher and theologian. A mystical experience towards the end of his 49 years caused him to view all his learned writings as “straw”. In his lifetime, his work became subjected to Church condemnation, but in due course it became building-blocks of mainstream Church teaching – a lesson worth remembering!

Data Privacy Day is described as “a celebration of the dignity of the individual expressed through personal information”. With all their blessings, today’s communication technologies also put personal privacy at risk, which calls for vigilance. See the website www.dataprivacyday.org

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  (Lao Tzu)

Friday 27 January
INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE

This UN day stands as a bastion not only against genocide and persecution, but also against all forms of racism - and against anti-Semitism in particular. As we remember the Holocaust and the millions who perished in this unthinkable yet undeniable low in humanity’s history, we could pray for the healing of this and all other breaches of world wholeness, starting with our own pet prejudices. (A wonderful and widely-available piece of music capturing the unspeakable sadness of the Holocaust is the theme composed by John Williams for the movie SCHINDLER’S LIST.)

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”  (Denis Waitley)

Thursday 26 January
AUSTRALIA DAY  and  INDIA’S REPUBLIC DAY

This year India marks the 66th anniversary of the adoption of its Constitution. On the same day, Australia holds its biggest annual celebration. We pray with and for the people of these two nations - hugely-populous India with its sparkling diversity and painful contrasts, and vast Australia with its awesome wide-open spaces and bustling urbanised edges - struggling with the legacy of the past and the challenges of the future. Very specially we pray in gratitude for the exciting vitality of the Edmund Rice Network in these two countries, and for a blessing on its members and all whom their life touches.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. As with all matter of the heart you’ll know when you find it.”  (Steve Jobs)

Wednesday 25 January
FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL and
end of THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

The story of the intolerant persecutor Saul, and how he was zapped by a God so much bigger than his blind religiocioushood could imagine, is told in Acts 9. It is the same uncontainability of God that strikes Saul’s companions dumb and his hearers with amazement, and that shakes him into asking “Who are you, Lord?” – a question that opens Part 2 of his life, under his new name Paul. It is a question we can usefully ask again and again. This feastday was specially selected as one of the bookends of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, reminding us that God bursts unstoppably out of all our boxing-in, and desires that we burst out of our own confining boxes too.

“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”  (Keith Ferrazzi)

Tuesday 24 January
ST FRANCIS DE SALES

Francis de Sales was a 16-17th Century Bishop noted for his simplicity, with a great talent for communicating and for gently and thoroughly encouraging reform in the ways of Christ’s disciples. His life and teaching remind us to focus on God’s love as the heart of the Christian message.

“The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot.”  (Guy Kawasaki)

Monday 23 January 2017
ST MARIANNE OF MOLOKA’I

Marianne Cope, born in Germany and raised in the USA, gave her life as a Franciscan Sister serving those living with leprosy on the island of Moloka’i, Hawai’i, for half a century. She died aged 80 just as World War II was coming to an end, having been amazingly preserved from the disease with which she had so much contact. In October 2012, she was officially named a Saint.

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.  Help someone’s soul heal.  Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”  (Rumi)

Sunday 22 January
3rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

“Do not judge by appearances.  A rich heart may be under a poor coat.”  (Scottish Proverb)

Saturday 21 January
FEAST OF ST AGNES, TEENAGER

Agnes, born near the end of the 3rd Century, was martyred as a young teenager for resisting a forced marriage. Her death was part of a purge to get rid of Christian resistance to the conformity demanded by Rome. (Yes, even then!)  She is regarded as a patron saint of girls, virgins, those who suffer rape, engaged couples, chastity, and gardeners. She is one of the 7 women named in the Roman Canon of the Mass. Google her story, and if you x-ray through all the flowery legends you will meet a teenager of immense strength of character rooted in an unshakeable faith.

“Appreciation can make a day – even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”  (Margaret Cousin)

Friday 20 January
FORMAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS

On the feast of the Holy Name, 20 January 1822, the Christian Brothers accepted the Vatican 1820 Brief offering pontifical status. It was a controversial decision, and it marked a parting of the ways with the Cork-based group who became the Presentation Brothers, but it enabled a freedom to think and move internationally – an advantage that the Presentation Brothers also claimed later.

“Don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.”  (Marian Wright Edelman)

Thursday 19 January
WAXING & WANING OF THE MOON

The monthly cycle of the moon, so important to cultures prizing the connection between human life and the universe of which we are part, happens virtually unnoticed by many of us. Yet even those who relegate the moon to clichés and corny lyrics sometimes have moments of being mesmerized by its serene presence. Last week’s full moon, climax of the moon’s monthly cycle, might invite us to take a moment to pay attention each evening for the next month. Doing so has the power to connect and to context us, to put us in touch with the less-overt rhythms of our own lives, and to remind us of simple but profound truths that are part of our human heritage.

“Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are always defeated by faith. Having faith in yourself, in the process of change, and in the new direction that change sets will reveal your own inner core of steel.”  (Georgette Mosbacher)

Wednesday 18 January
START OF WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

This started over 100 years old and used to be called Church Unity Octave because it actually lasts eight days. If you Google it, you’ll find lots of resources for prayer, once you scroll past screeds of background info – look out for references starting with www.vatican.va and www.oikoumene.org because the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have made this their joint project.

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”  (Dale Carnegie)

Tuesday 17 January
ST ANTHONY THE ABBOT

St Anthony of Egypt is known as ‘the Father of All Monks’: though he was not the first monk, he is remembered as taking monasticism into the desert, an instinct that found widespread resonance.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”  (John Wooden)

Monday 16 January 2017
COLDEST/HOTTEST MONTH OF THE YEAR

As January is Northern hemisphere’s coldest month and the Southern hemisphere’s hottest month, it could serve as a reminder of the role of rhythms and cycles in our lives, with their lessons of balance, decay-and-renewal, change, and constancy – the latter quality being associated with January’s birthstone, the garnet.

“Focusing on what we already have and are grateful for right now is one of the most powerful things we can do to alter our life in a positive way.”  (Mike Robbins)

Sunday 15 January
2nd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ANNIVERSARY OF HUDSON RIVER EMERGENCY LANDING

Eight years ago, a flight that had just taken off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, and all aboard survived. One of the most internationally celebrated good-news stories in recent memory, celebrated recently in a movie called SULLY, it might turn our eyes to the unsung good news in our own experience and context.

“If you want to conquer fear, don't sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”  (Dale Carnegie)

Saturday 14 January
FEAST OF THE ASS

This Medieval observance, pinned to the donkey in the nativity story, involved having a donkey stand beside the altar during the sermon and the congregation ‘hee-hawing’ their responses to the celebrant. Suppressed since the 15th Century, it remains a reminder of just how far religion can wander from its centre. We might reflect today on how some religious practices of our own time stray from the focus of Jesus.

“Life is the sum of all your choices.”  (Albert Camus)

Friday 13 January
ST HILARY OF POITIERS

The feastday of a 4th Century married Bishop, Hilary of Poitiers, is a reminder that not all-that-is always was that way or will always remain that way! It might prompt us to reflect on our own resistance to change and to pray for openness to Spirit-driven change.

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

Thursday 12 January
INDIA’S YOUTH DAY

Youth have always had a very special place in the heart of followers of Edmund Rice. India’s National Youth Day invites us to hold in prayer the young people of a country where the Christian Brothers have served youth for over 170 years.

“Difficulties in life are intended to make us better not bitter.”  (Dan Reeves)

Wednesday 11 January
ANNIVERSARY OF RED-FLAGGING OF SMOKING

On this day in 1964, a landmark report was published by the US Surgeon-General warning that smoking may be a health-hazard. The ensuing half-century has seen a growing sensitizing to the impact of lifestyle on health. In our prayer today, we could focus on the sacredness of our bodies and the responsibility of self-care.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire.  It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.  it is loyalty through good and bad times.  It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”  (Ann Landers)

Tuesday 10 January
ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD’S OLDEST UNDERGROUND RAILWAY

In 1863, just over a century and a half ago, the London Underground opened, the first of its kind: the first stretch connected London Paddington Station and Farringdon Station. Perhaps this anniversary might prompt us to reflect with wonder on our world’s vast communications networks – the human values embodied and all that is made possible… right down to reading these lines.

“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.”  (Dr Steve Maraboli)

Monday 9 January 2017
THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Protestant scholar William Barclay in his commentary on the story of Jesus’ baptism by John sees Jesus as drawn into identifying with a Godward movement of people. Mark and Luke tell the story as a turning-point in the life of Jesus, a moment of personal insight into God’s direction for his life, a watershed moment for him. If we take the Incarnation seriously, that Jesus was not God-dressed-up-in-a-human-body, then we accept that he had to discover his path and depend on God’s breaking through to him in special moments, just as we do. We’ve all had our own watershed moments – some use religious language like ‘vocation’ and ‘revelation’, others speak in metaphors of guidance or insight or recognition, others are wary of naming the experience but just ‘know’ that it was real. Today’s feast invites us to identify with Jesus in honouring these moments as touchstones of our personal authenticity.

“Today, let us swim wildly, joyously in gratitude.”  (Rumi)

Sunday 8 January
THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD and
OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOUR

The story behind the quaint title ‘Our Lady of Prompt Succour’ comes from early 19th Century New Orleans, but its message is for all times and places: that the Mother of Jesus cares deeply about the affairs of the community gathered around the vision and values of her son, and is a reliable ally in all that serves the reign of God.

“To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”  (Mohandas K. Gandhi)

Saturday 7 January
SAN RAIMUNDO DE PEÑAFORT

Spanish Dominican remembered for his 13th Century codifying of Church law, which served for the seven centuries preceding the present Code of Canon Law. Saint Raymond is a reminder of the Church’s tradition of scholarship and of the contribution of this hidden ministry to human progress.

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”  (Rabindranath Tagore)

Friday 6 January
THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD   (celebrated on the following Sunday in some countries)

Major manifestations of God’s glory are landmarks. Landmarks help us to see where we are and where we are going without being confused by all the fast-changing details of our experience. Special moments where God is revealed, both in Scripture and in our own stories, are intended to develop eyes that can see God’s presence in the everyday and the ordinary. The Christmas name ‘Emmanuel’ means God with us, God in our midst, God immersed in the messiness of our lives. The feast is known in Eastern Christianity as ‘Theophany’ and in Ireland as ‘Little Christmas’, and it marks the start of the Carnival season which continues until Lent.

“The secret of success in life is to be ready for one’s opportunity when it comes.”  (Benjamin Disraeli)

Thursday 5 January
TWELFTH NIGHT

Twelfth Night, ending the celebration of Christmas, is a celebration coincided with an even older time of Roman revels. Though only vestiges of this tradition have survived – like the taking down of Christmas decorations – it can serve us as a reminder of the importance of celebration in human life. Nietsche once observed that “the problem is not how to celebrate but having something to celebrate”. The key is noticing what we have that is worth celebrating – from the simplest personal things to the most sweeping movements of God’s energy – for these things are our spiritual core, and they call out to be expressed – whether in established rituals or in spontaneous ways, but always engaging our creativity. It’s often lamented that so much preparation goes into a wedding and so little into preparation of the couple for lifelong bonding. Yet sometimes we do the same with Eucharist: the energy goes into choosing songs and designing visuals, and little is done to prepare the consciousness with which we enter liturgy. And sometimes we ‘use’ Mass quite uncritically as the channel for every occasion of celebration, missing the opportunity of entering the occasion more actively by creating something more ‘custom-built’. So let Twelfth Night invite us to notice what in our lives calls out to be celebrated during this coming year.

“The foundation of confidence in virtually every field is preparation.”  (Brian Tracy)

Wednesday 4 January
ST ELIZABETH ANN SETON

Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born American to be canonized. There are several interesting parallels between her life and that of Edmund Rice. She was married, became a parent, was widowed, and started an apostolic congregation dedicated to faith-integrated education. Unlike Edmund, she was a convert to the Catholic faith and died relatively young, at 46.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”  (George Bernard Shaw)

Tuesday 3 January
BACK TO WORK in many parts of the world

In many parts of the globe, this week is a time of returning, or preparing to return, to our routine activities. Let those of us who have work or studies to return to, in a world heavy with unemployment and thin in educational opportunities, hold our graced situation in gratitude.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.”  (Harold Geneen)

Monday 2 January 2017
NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

Most of you reading this live in situations where the globe slows down in acknowledgement of what Christmas means to Christians. In countries where Christians are the minority, this is not so, and the occasion can only be celebrated in the heart as the world goes about its everyday business. Imagining this can help us Christians understand how our Muslim and Jewish and Hindu sisters and brothers may feel when their holy days pass unnoticed in a Christian-orientated world – a sad irony in the lives of followers of the Jesus who was at pains to include the stranger, the outsider, the foreigner, “those who are not against us”, and all “those who do the will of the Father”. Let us take a few moments to mark these holy days of other faiths in our 2017 diaries so we can be aware.

“Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it.”  (Jim Rohn)

Sunday 1 January 2017
FEAST OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD and
NEW YEAR’S DAY and
WORLD DAY OF PEACE

The very first day of the calendar year is traditionally dedicated to Mary as Mother of God (‘Mater Dei’). The first of a monthly thread of Marian days, this one highlights her role of willing and active participation in bringing God’s dream to birth. This is something all of us are called to do in our own place and time and circumstances. Notice that the person God calls to this blueprint-of-all-calls is a member of an oppressed race (under Roman occupation), a woman (in a man-centred society), and an obscure young teenager of undistinguished education and achievements. Clearly this is not a God made in our own image and likeness – and the God who comes to birth is notably subversive of what is called (in old-fashioned English) “man’s way, not God’s way”.

New Year is traditionally a day for setting personal resolutions. Stephen Covey’s book 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE suggests a lifegiving direction: scheduling time to honour the really-important-yet-not-urgent things in our life which so easily get crowded out by the demands of urgent-yet-actually-less-important activities. Think: prayer and reflection, quality-time for relationships and family, physical exercise and its mental equivalent of reading, exposure to art and beauty and ideas…

Today is also World Day of Peace.  The theme this year is “Fraternity, the foundation and pathway to peace”. Look for it via the Search facility at the top of www.justpax.it

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.  If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened.  But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”  (Frederich Nietzsche)

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random