Each week Br. Michael Burke prepares some resources to help us remember and celebrate the feast or anniversary.
Sunday 21 January
3rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST AGNES, TEENAGER
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.)
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.
“Many people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they are 75.” [Benjamin Franklin]
Saturday 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.
“Only when we learn that our mistakes are masked as discoveries; our conflicts are cloaked as opportunities; and our failure are fuel for progress; can we move massively forward.” [Rick Beneteau]
Friday 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.
“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” [Eleanor Roosevelt]
Thursday 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.
“The heart that gives, gathers.” [Tao Te Ching]
Wednesday 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.
“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” [Brené Brown]
Tuesday 16 January
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.
“By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light. You determine the effects that you will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences of your life.” [Gary Zukav]
Monday 15 January 2018
ANNIVERSARY OF HUDSON RIVER EMERGENCY LANDING
Nine 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 in a movie called SULLY, it might turn our eyes to the unsung good news in our own experience and context.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with you one wild and precious life?” [Mary Oliver]
Sunday 14 January
2nd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
FEAST OF THE ASS
The Feast of the Ass, a 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.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Saturday 13 January
ST HILARY OF POITIERS
The feast-day 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.
“It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy.” (George Lorimer)
Friday 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.
“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” (Sally Koch)
Thursday 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.
“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.” (Josiah Gilbert Holland)
Wednesday 10 January
ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD’S OLDEST UNDERGROUND RAILWAY
In 1863, a little 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.
“The grass is greener where you water it.” (Neil Barringham)
Tuesday 9 January
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.
“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” (Tom Landry)
Monday 8 January 2018
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.
“If you wish others to believe in you, you must first convince them that you believe in them.” (Harvey Mackay)
Sunday 7 January
EPIPHANY SUNDAY and
SAN RAIMUNDO DE PEÑAFORT
Raimundo was a 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.
“A leader is a person you will follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself.” [Joel Arthur Barker]
Saturday 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.
“If you're going through hell, keep going.” [Winston Churchill]
Friday 5 January
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.
“It is love alone that leads to right action. What brings order in the world is to love and let love do what it will.” [Krishnamurti]
Thursday 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.
“What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things, instead of using people and loving things.” [author unknown]
Wednesday 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.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” [Helen Keller]
Tuesday 2 January
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 2018 diaries so we can be aware.
“With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.” [Catherine de Hueck]
Monday 1 January 2O18
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 “Migrants and Refugees: men and women in search of peace”. Look for it via the Search facility at the top of www.justpax.it
“Good friendships are fragile things and require as much care as any other fragile and precious thing.” [Randolph S. Bourne]
Sunday 31 December
HOLY FAMILY SUNDAY and
WORLD SPIRITUALITY DAY
The feast of the Holy Family is a reminder of the human community’s affirmation of the key role of family in nurturing personal potential and life-giving values, but also of God’s presence in the ordinariness of everyday domestic rhythms and routines. And an inclusive gesture to families that are not textbook-typical! The founder of the Holy Family Association, Pierre Noailles, wrote: “The Son of God came that the Holy Family might be formed” – not just in microcosm.
World Spirituality Day is described as “an opportunity for all who value spirituality in their lives to connect and unite in our wish for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world based on values grounded in our deeper spiritual connection to each other and the world around us”. It is strategically timed to coincide with the natural energy of renewal and refocusing that comes with the transition to a new year. Look it up on www.integrativespirituality.org
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” [Plato]
Saturday 30 December
END OF THE YEAR
The last couple of days of the year is an invitation to look back with gratitude and appreciation for all the goodness, truth, and beauty with which we were blessed in 2017.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” [Berthold Auerbach]
Friday 29 December
ST THOMAS BECKET
Thomas was a 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury who stood up to the power-greed of English King Henry II, and after a long struggle to defend the Church’s traditional privileges ended up being murdered in his Cathedral. With St Paul he is London’s co-patron saint. His life is a reminder of the cost so many pay as a result of standing up for principle against tyranny.
“You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” [Lou Holtz]
Thursday 28 December
THE HOLY INNOCENTS
An African proverb observes that “When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled”. The baby boys massacred by Herod’s attempt to kill the baby Jesus, remind us of the vulnerability of the powerless when the powerful act out of paranoia or personal interests. Today’s commemoration challenges us to question how sensitive we are to the effects of any power we wield, or of any power with which we are aligned or associated. The same Jesus who narrowly escaped the fate of other Bethlehem babies was later to point out: “Whatever you do to the least powerful, keep in mind that you are doing it to me”.
“Improve relationships with others by assuming that they can hear everything you say about them.” [Stephen R. Covey]
Wednesday 27 December
ST JOHN THE APOSTLE
Traditionally thought of as the friend who was closest to Jesus and as the youngest of the Apostles, John was the only one of the Twelve who stood by Jesus through his crucifixion and death – along with the women. And he was the one to whom Jesus entrusted his mother before he died. The version of the story of Jesus that comes to us in John’s name is a deeply reflective one. Reading a part of it would be a fine way to honour John’s feastday.
“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living, the other helps you make a life.” [Sandra Carey]
Tuesday 26 December
ST STEPHEN’S DAY
The traditional day on which many still celebrate the memory of the first Christian to be martyred for his faith in Jesus. Stephen’s story is found in Chapters 6 and 7 of The Acts of the Apostles.
“People are like sticks of dynamite. The power is on the inside, but nothing happens until the fuse gets lit.” [Mac Anderson]
Monday 25 December 2017
Not just the traditional birthday of Jesus, but a vivid reminder of the vulnerability of the God of surprises, a celebration of God’s stunning trust in human nature, and a landmark in the maturation of the human race. A part of the Christmas tradition that strongly connects to Edmund Rice spirituality today is welcoming the stranger.
“This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.” [Peace Pilgrim]
Sunday 24 December
4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT and
THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Poet Rainer Maria Rilke, writing in German, expressed these thoughts just before Christmas 1903:
“Why don’t you think of Him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will some day arrive, the ultimate tree whose leaves we are. What keeps you from projecting His birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don’t you see that everything that happens is again and again a beginning and couldn’t it be His beginning, since in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If He is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede Him, so that he can choose Himself out of fullness and superabundance? Must not he be the last one so that He can include everything in Himself, and what meaning would we have if He whom we are longing for has already existed?
As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence and with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him who we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as a gesture that rises up from the depths of time.
Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?
Be patient…and realise that the least we can do is to make coming into existence no more difficult for Him than the earth does for Spring when it wants to come.”
Saturday 23 December
O-ANTIPHONS LAST DAY
In their preparation for Christmas, the ancient O-antiphons climax with a focus on ‘Emmanuel’, God-with-us:
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
The hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
The first letters of each of the O-Antiphons’ seven titles, taken in reverse, makes up the Latin words ‘ero cras’ (Tomorrow, I will come).
“Life is not a problem to be solved, nor a question to be answered. Life is a mystery to be experienced.” [Alan Watts]
Friday 22 December
MOTHER FRANCES CABRINI
Born in Italy in the mid-19th Century, Francesca founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and in her late 30s was sent to New York City to minister to Italian immigrants. Within her 67 years she founded that same number of missionary institutions in service of the sick and the poor. She was the first American citizen to be canonized.
“Confidence on the outside begins by living with integrity on the inside.” [Brian Tracy]
Thursday 21 December
APPROACHING THE SOLSTICE and
Tomorrow is the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere and the shortest in the northern hemisphere – the middle of summer or of winter. The USA creatively makes this solstice its ‘End Homelessness Day’ because it brings their longest night of the year – look it up on www.betterworldcalendar.com for an outline of the problem of homelessness which affects some 100 million people round the world.
“Experience is not what happens to you - it's how you interpret what happens to you.” [Aldous Huxley]
Wednesday 20 December
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN SOLIDARITY DAY
Established by the UN ten years ago as “an initiative in the fight against poverty”, Human Solidarity Day is a reminder of the oneness of humanity globally, and a call to give practical expression to our oneness with the sorrows, struggles, and sufferings – as well as the joys, achievements, and celebrations – of other people sharing our world with us.
“Transformation occurs when existing solutions, assumed truths and past decisions are exposed as unrealistic and self-defeating.” [Peter Shepherd]
Tuesday 19 December
DAY FOR SOUTH-SOUTH CO-OPERATION
Today is set aside by the UN to focus attention on South-South Co-operation, as a complement to North-South co-operation, and as another instrument helping to achieve internationally agreed development goals.
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man's life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” [Henry Longfellow]
Monday 18 December 2017
INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS’ DAY
International Migrants’ Day is a reminder of those millions of people across the globe who have found it necessary to cross international borders in search of a better life – safety, jobs, food, freedom – and who often experience increased vulnerability away from their homeland.
“Those who enter the gates of heaven are not beings who have no passions or who have curbed the passions, but those who have cultivated an understanding of them.” [William Blake]
Sunday 17 December
3rd SUNDAY OF ADVENT and
Another example of preparation for Christmas is the ancient monastic tradition of the seven O-Antiphons, each focusing on an attribute of Christ taken from Scripture. The first is Sapientia, Wisdom:
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
Reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Look up ‘O antiphon’ (sic) in Wikipedia for an interesting outline.
“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” (Anthony J. D'Angelo)
Saturday 16 December
START OF ‘SHELTER-SEEKING’ NOVENA
Shelter-seeking is a tradition in Mexico which has spread to parts of Latin America. The nine days before Christmas are observed as a remembrance of Joseph and Mary’s long search for lodgings (‘Las Posadas’). The novena was adopted and adapted in the Philippines where it is known as ‘Simbang Gabi’ (Dawn Mass), referring to the custom of Churches opening their doors very early, before harvest-work began, to allow the faithful to participate in Mass in the lead-up to Christmas. The message of this novena is about spiritual preparation for Christmas in the midst of the secular seasonal flurry.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” (Viktor Frankl)
Friday 15 December
Named after the founder of Esperanto, an attempt at creating an international language, Zamenhof Day might remind us of the importance of communication in our lives and the need to make efforts at improving the effectiveness of how we hear others and get across to them - efforts such as learning other people’s language or developing our listening skills.
“Building a better you is the first step to building a better World.” (Zig Ziglar)
Thursday 14 December
ST JOHN OF THE CROSS
A 16th Century Spanish mystic and a partner of Teresa of Avila in the work of Carmelite reform, John of the Cross was experienced as a threat and became imprisoned by his Order. Before escaping, he wrote one of his few major works that distinguish him as one of the foremost poets in the Spanish language. He remains one of the great guides to mystical prayer, and his feastday is a reminder of the call to a deep and committed prayer-life.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” (Leo Buscaglia)
Wednesday 13 December
One of the few women named in the Canon of the Mass, Lucy (or Lucia) suffered the loss of her eyes and then her life for her Christian faith in the early 4th Century, becoming the patron saint of blind people. A day, perhaps, to celebrate the role women play in planting and strengthening faith.
“Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success.” (John Hays Hammond)
Tuesday 12 December
KENYA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Though Nairobi was the gateway through which the Christian Brothers brought the heart of Edmund Rice to East Africa, the first community in Kenya began three years later, in 1991. There are now seven communities of Christian Brothers in that country, two of them being international houses of study for the African Province, and the Brothers minister in a number of centres. Kenya today celebrates the 54th anniversary of becoming independent in 1963.
“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” (Alan Alda)
Monday 11 December 2017
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY
International Mountain Day originated in a North Eastern American students’ custom of mass bunking of classes to head for the mountains and enjoy the colourful leaves of Fall/Autumn. The day has become dignified by the UN “to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development”.
“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” (Christopher Reeve)
Sunday 10 December
2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT and
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the two international covenants of human rights: that of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and that of Civil and Political Rights – see www.awarenessdays.com for information. Also see the website of our own advocacy arm www.edmundriceinternational.org which maintains a special focus on human rights.
“You will either step forward into growth or step backward into safety.” (Abraham Maslow)
Saturday 9 December
ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY and
TANZANIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
International Anti-Corruption Day is a UN initiative to promote “integrity, accountability, and proper management of public affairs and public property”. Let us pray today for the conditions necessary for the cultivation of such values, conditions such as the spread of healthy kinds of religious faith in the hearts of humankind.
Tanzania came on to the Edmund Rice map in 1988 when the first community of Christian Brothers settled in this land. There are now two communities of Brothers in Arusha, as well as the Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School (see www.edmundricesinon.com for more), and a growing community of Edmund Rice people in Tanzania.
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” (Captain Jack Sparrow)
Friday 8 December
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY
Coming nine months before the traditional birthday of Mary, 8 September, today’s feast celebrates that point in human evolution where such a person as Mary became possible, someone of Mary’s extraordinary openness to God. The Immaculate Conception is not about how Jesus was conceived – a common misunderstanding grounded in a distorted view of sex as something stained (or ‘maculate’) – but marks that moment in the human race’s maturation when a Mary could come into existence, could be conceivable.
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a nation.” (Nelson Mandela)
Thursday 7 December
INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION DAY
Civil Aviation Day is a UN-sponsored observance to strengthen worldwide awareness of the importance of civil aviation for development and to promote safety and efficiency in international air transport.
“We need a variety of input and influence and voices. You cannot get all the answers to life and business from one person or from one source.” (Jim Rohn)
Wednesday 6 December
The multiplication of legends around this Greek saint of the 3rd/4th Centuries is testimony to the impact that one person’s life can have on others. Arising from these legends, Nicholas has been adopted as the patron saint of a startling variety of groups, including children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, students, broadcasters, pharmacists, pawnbrokers, the falsely accused, the city of New York, prostitutes, and even thieves – repentant ones. He is specially associated with secret gift-giving, and the Dutch Santa Claus tradition has been secularized into Father Christmas.
“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” (Thomas Edison)
Tuesday 5 December
INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY
The International Volunteeer Day for Economic and Social Development celebrates the global asset of volunteerism and the way “it can bring positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all” (Ban Ki-moon). It is a day for honouring all our Volunteers within the Edmund Rice Network and the way God shines through their loving service.
“Time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose.” (Lance Armstrong)
Monday 4 December 2017
ST JOHN OF DAMASCUS
John of Damascus, a monk who lived in the 7th/8th Centuries, is remembered as a scholar and theologian, a reminder of the Church’s deep tradition of scholarship and of those engaged in this ministry in our own time.
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” (James Michener)
Sunday 3 December
1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT and
ST FRANCIS XAVIER and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Francis Xavier was one of the original Jesuits, in the 16th Century. He is remembered as a missionary on the grand scale, ministering in Goa, South East Asia, and Japan. His life is a reminder that Christianity is never a closed club, and that Christ and his vision are for sharing.
About 10% of the world population, or 650 million people, live with the challenge of disabilities. This UN day asks us to become involved in promoting their dignity, rights, and well-being. Wikipedia’s page on ‘Disability’ provides a window on a very broad subject.
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr)
Saturday 2 December
END SLAVERY DAY and
WORLD COMPUTER LITERACY DAY
The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is a reminder of the UN’s 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of Others. These things are still happening, particularly to women, and out-of-sight can remain out-of-mind unless deliberately brought to mind and to prayer.
Computer Literacy has become in our time a significant part of empowerment, essential across a broad range of the job market, yet inaccessible to vast numbers of our world’s poor. It poses a challenge to a community of people inspired by Edmund Rice who, in his context of two centuries ago, faced an equivalent challenge.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” (Alan Lakein)
Friday 1 December
WORLD AIDS DAY
The Wikipedia page on World AIDS Day gives a good introduction to the day and the disease, plus a listing of other relevant sites. We are invited to keep in our prayers throughout the AIDS month of December all those who are either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS with its stigma and many burdens, as well as all those in danger of becoming infected through various forms of vulnerability, including ignorance and inequality.
“Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” (Abraham Lincoln)
Thursday 30 November
ST ANDREW and
CITIES FOR LIFE DAY
Andrew, brother of Peter, is well known in the story of Jesus as one of The Twelve. It was in the faith of these Apostles that ‘the Church’ in all its complexity was grounded. The story of Andrew’s call can be found in John 1:35-44.
A growing number of cities around the world identify themselves as Cities for Life and today affirm their commitment to life and their opposition to the death penalty. See the website www.nodeathpenalty.santegidio.org
“You gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. You must do that which we think we cannot.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Wednesday 29 November
ST BRENDAN OF BIRR, IRELAND and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Brendan, one of the earliest Irish Saints and among what people call ‘the twelve apostles of Ireland’, studied at a hugely influential monastic school and went on to found a monastery in central Ireland in the 6th Century. His life is an illustration of how God raises up the right people in every age of history to respond to the needs of their time and place.
The UN’s Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people is a reminder of the lower-profile side of the complex and painful struggle to realise conflicting aspirations in the volatile part of the world where Jesus lived his short life and died a violent death.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” (Sam Walton)
Tuesday 28 November
ST CATHERINE LABOURÉ
Catherine, a 19th century Sister, ministered as a nurse in France. Anonymously, she was the messenger who was instrumental in introducing the much-loved “Miraculous Medal” into Catholic piety. The essential message of this token of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the availability of God’s Grace for the asking.
“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” (Phillips Brooks)
Monday 27 November 2017
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE MONTH
November has been chosen as Alzheimer’s Disease Month to raise awareness of this degenerative terminal senile dementia, first diagnosed at the start of the 20th Century. The signs, symptoms, and stages are well decribed in a Wikipedia entry on the subject. Our prayer today might embrace all those who suffer from, or because of, Alzheimer’s Disease.
“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” (Brian Tracy)
Sunday 26 November
CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY and
ST JOHN BERCHMANS and
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE MONTH
“The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car, a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.” (Ben Sweetland)
Saturday 25 November
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The Day of Elimination of Violence against Women is a United Nations observance. It is briefly introduced on the website www.timeanddate.com
“One half of life is luck; the other half is discipline - and that's the important half, for without discipline you wouldn't know what to do with luck.” (Carl Zuckmeyer)
Friday 24 November
EVOLUTION DAY and
BUY NOTHING DAY
Evolution Day marks the anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s breakthrough text The Origin of Species 155 years ago. It can be taken as a day for celebrating the common bond between all of Creation.
Buy-Nothing Day, observed immediately following the USA’s Thanksgiving Day, is described as “a global holiday from consumerism”. It invites us to reflect on over-consumerism and to review our own excesses.
“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” (Stephen R. Covey)
Thursday 23 November
ST CLEMENT and
BAHAI FEAST OF QAWL (SPEECH) and
THANKSGIVING DAY IN USA
Clement, one of the earliest successors of St Peter, is usually depicted in art with an anchor, symbolising perhaps his role in affirming orderly procedures in regard to authority in the Church.
Qawl celebrates the gift of speech. The Bahai faith holds that all God’s messengers brought the same message embodied in different languages and cultures – for example, ‘the Golden Rule’.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November – and by a number of other countries on different days. The North American celebrations took their lead from traditional harvest festivals in Europe. Even if we have our own national days, we might turn our thoughts and prayers to gratitude today in a spirit of solidarity.
“The moment you commit and quit holding back, all sorts of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, will rise up to help you. The simple act of commitment is a powerful magnet for help.” (Napoleon Hill)
Wednesday 22 November
St Cecilia is traditionally the patroness of music, which has been called the language of God. Perhaps our prayer today might involve listening and responding to this transcendent language.
“Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.” (Harriet Rubin)
Tuesday 21 November
PRESENTATION DAY and
WORLD TELEVISION DAY
From the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, two Congregations take their name:
• Nano Nagle’s Presentation Sisters – see their website www.presentationsistersunion.org
• Edmund Rice’s Presentation Brothers – their website is www.presentationbrothers.org
Television, though it is only one among many media, and not one of those most accessible to the world’s poorer people, is nevertheless a gift to celebrate and a powerful influence to acknowledge.
“Some see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” (George Bernard Shaw)
Monday 20 November 2017
UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY and
AFRICA INDUSTRIALISATION DAY
Universal Children’s Day is a celebration of childhood held in dozens of countries around the globe. Children have always had a central place in the Edmund Rice world, and the uncovering of the ugly phenomenon of child abuse in a less-aware past has led to the strengthening of our contribution to honouring children’s rights and protecting the innocence and vulnerability of childhood.
Africa Industrialisation Day is a UN effort to “mobilize the commitment of the international community to the industrialization of Africa. It also reminds that more than 30 of the world's 48 least developed countries are part of Africa continent.”
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” (Albert Einstein)
Sunday 19 November
33rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
INTERNATIONAL MEN’S DAY
Celebrated in over a dozen countries, Men’s Day celebrates their contributions to society, highlights male health issues, and stresses the need for good male role models especially for the sake of young people.
“Gratitude is the open door to abundance.” (Yogi Bhajan)
Saturday 18 November
NOVEMBER: MONTH OF ‘THE HOLY SOULS’
A mid-month reminder that, since the sixteenth century, the Church has observed November as a month to specially pray for those who have died and are still growing in their capacity to experience God’s presence. The traditional term ‘holy souls’ suggests that they are on their way to sainthood, and perhaps their state of need of our prayers is captured by the image in Jn 9:4 (‘the night when no one can work’).
“We are what we repeatedly do.” (Aristotle)
Friday 17 November
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ DAY
Originating in a 1939 uprising of students in Prague against Nazi pervery, this Students’ Day continues to be observed mainly as a day of students standing up against oppression in its many guises. The day brings a reminder that the young are often clear-sighted about those evils to which their elders have become accustomed and insensitive.
“The difference between extraordinary people and ordinary people is a simple as the difference between the two words. Extraordinary people are committed to doing the extra things that ordinary people won’t.” (Christine Kinney)
Thursday 16 November
Though mere tolerance may seem rather ungenerous and patronizing, it is certainly a starting-point in the perennial struggle to rise above racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and other manifestations of crude intolerance. And our prayer and accompanying action for justice do not need to stop at tolerance, but can embrace more positive values like respect and inclusion and affirmation.
“The most critical thing I think business leaders and future business leaders need to understand is to stay focused on the things that you can control and influence, and then execute, execute, execute.” (John Chambers)
Wednesday 15 November
Recycling Day is an initiative from the USA, a country that has doubled its recycling efforts in the past decade to achieve a rate of almost one-third of all its ‘trash’. We are encouraged to get involved practically both by making the effort to recycle our own waste and by buying recycled goods.
“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
Tuesday 14 November
WORLD DIABETES DAY
World Diabetes Day is a UN day that draws attention to the need for education, prevention, and management in regard to a disease that affects 285 million people currently and appears to be alarmingly on the increase. Becoming aware of the risk factors (like lack of exercise and unhealthy diet) and of the warning signs (like excessive thirst, hunger, or tiredness) is a starting-point. For more, visit the very informative site www.worlddiabetesday.org
“Profound commitment to a dream does not confine or constrain: it liberates. Even a difficult, winding path can lead to your goal if you follow it to the end.” (Paulo Coelho)
Monday 13 November 2017
Kindness Day, described as “a day that encourages individuals to overlook boundaries, race, and religion”, is an initiative from the east that resonates strongly with Edmund Rice spirituality. Look up the website www.worldkindness.org.sg
“All progress begins with a brave decision.” (Marie Forleo)
Sunday 12 November
32nd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
Josaphat, a monk who was ordained Archbishop and died a martyr, is remembered for leading the regeneration of Church life among the Ruthenians – Belarusians and Ukrainians. He is greatly venerated by Eastern Europeans and people of Polish origins.
“The capacity to learn is a gift;
the ability to learn is a skill;
the willingness to learn is a choice.” (Brian Herbert)
Saturday 11 November
COMMEMORATING THE END OF WORLD WAR ONE
Known variously as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Poppy Day, and (as broadened in USA) Veterans’ Day, this was the day in 1918 when ‘The Great War’ was signed to a close at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. One of the oldest rituals marking this event is the observance of a Two Minute Silence at this hour. About 9 million combatants lost their lives in WWI, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured; countless others died of war-time starvation and of the famines and diseases that flowed from the war.
“One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.” (Archibald Rutledge)
Friday 10 November
ST LEO THE GREAT
A 5th Century Italian Pope, Leo is remembered as the one who decisively established the primacy of the Bishop of Rome among his fellow-Bishops. Centralised authority has developed into a highly nuanced practice in the Church over the years. While strong centralization has its weaknesses, to downplay the value of its checks-and-balances would be to overlook its worth to the ultimate fidelity of the community of Jesus.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Thursday 9 November
ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL and
The USA is among the several countries that celebrate a national freedom day, but also celebrates today as World Freedom Day to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall 27 years ago. It could serve as an occasion to treasure one of those gifts that is most sharply appreciated where it is absent: freedom.
Several countries celebrate an Inventors’ Day to remember, honour, and appreciate the contribution of inventors to our everyday lives and to the progress of our world. We may like to join the three German-speaking countries – Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – in doing so today. There’s a saying that reminds us: “It is true that ordinary people keep the wheels turning; but never forget that it took an extraordinary person to invent the wheel.”
“Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.” (Harvey Mackay)
Wednesday 8 November
WORLD URBANISM DAY
Celebrated in 30 countries on four continents, World Urbanism Day is intended to raise awareness of the environmental impact of the development of cities, and “to recognize and promote the role of planning in creating livable communities”.
“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
Tuesday 7 November
MONTH OF THE HOLY SOULS
November is, in Catholic tradition, the month highlighting prayer for the dead, an ancient Biblically-based practice. One way of seeing ‘the Holy Souls’ is as those whose vision is still in the process of being clarified to enable them to see ‘the face of God’. Another is to see them as those still in need of prayer for reconciliation with God. The tradition is a reminder of the power of prayer and also of the invitation to participate in God’s loving nurturing of all.
“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” (Ralph H. Blum)
Monday 6 November 2017
ALL SAINTS OF AFRICA
Around the time of the feast of All Saints, Africa celebrates today its own array of saints, sometimes known as ‘our ancestors in the faith’. Reverence for ancestors is a strong element in many African cultures, resonating with the Christian tradition of celebrating those on whose spiritual shoulders we stand.
“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” (Og Mandino)
Sunday 5 November
31st SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” (T.S. Eliot)
Saturday 4 November
ST CHARLES BORROMEO
Charles Borromeo was a leading 16th Century church reformer. Believing that ignorance and poor education were the source of many of the Church’s problems, he put emphasis on learning, including adequate preparation of future priests. He became Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, dying at age 46.
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases from being shared.” (Buddha)
Friday 3 November
ST MARTIN DE PORRES and
DOMINICA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Martin lived four centuries ago but the authenticity of his life’s message about combining prayer and service to the poor and the powerless - as Edmund Rice did - continues to ensure the popularity of this Dominican mulatto saint right up to the present.
Dominica was the first Caribbean island where the Christian Brothers established a community (in 1956, followed by Antigua in 1958 – see above). The community continues to serve at St Mary’s Academy in the capital Roseau. A second community served for some years in Portsmouth.
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” (Henry David Thoreau)
Thursday 2 November
ALL SOULS’ DAY
All Souls Day is an occasion for commemorating all those who have died and who may still be in need of our prayers in their personal progress towards readiness and capacity for God’s presence. Some of the rusty practices associated with this day in the past – like celebrants circling altars as they ended one Mass to begin another, and then another – may be liturgically insensitive and humanly unimaginative, yet the day’s call to pray for ‘the faithful departed’ remains perennially valid and valuable.
“What’s the good of dragging up sufferings which are over, of being unhappy now just because you were then.” (Seneca)
Wednesday 1 November
ALL SAINTS’ DAY and
WORLD VEGAN DAY and
ANTIGUA’S NATIONAL DAY
All Saints Day celebrates all who have died and entered lasting union with God, not just canonized saints. So it is the feast-day of those not-officially-acknowledged saints we have known and lived with. It is celebrated as a holiday in over two dozen countries; in some other countries, it is transferred to the following Sunday.
Veganism is a philosophy of avoiding all exploitation of animals, leading to the avoidance of all animal-derived products whether for food (e.g. meat, eggs, seafood) or clothing (e.g. fur, leather, wool) or other purposes (e.g. candlewax, lanolin). Because the emphasis is on principle, not rules, some practices remain open to debate (e.g. the consumption of honey).
Antigua has been on the Edmund Rice map since the start of 1958 when the Christian Brothers established a pioneer community of four in St John’s, to teach at St Joseph’s Academy. In 1971, the American Province passed responsibility to the Canadian Province. The school developed into the premier grammar school in Antigua. Shortage of manpower caused the Brothers to withdraw from the school’s administration in 2001, when the first Lay Head took over. The Brothers left the island in 2003. Two years later, the Western American and Canadian and Eastern American Provinces merged into a single Province called Edmund Rice Christian Brothers of North America. (Source: Brother Raph Bellows.)
“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” (Charles Dickens)
Tuesday 31 October
Halloween – the eve of All Hallows Day (All Saints) – has become tied to ancient beliefs about the presence of spirits at summer’s end in the northern hemisphere, as the light part of the year gives way to the dark. A southern equivalent, as the darker part of the year gives way to the light, has yet to be defined: perhaps it is a good time to lay-to-rest old ghosts and burdensome memories.
Reformation Day commemorates the most prominent watershed in the Church’s story and highlights the challenges with which division faces us today. An encouraging scholarly ‘take’ on the differences between today’s mainstream Christian denominations, though, is that they are much less significant than the differences between ‘the churches’ in the century following the lifetime of Jesus.
“Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn’t always have to be their top priority.” (William Arthur Ward)
Monday 30 October 2017
anticipating LATIN-AMERICAN MONTH (November)
The Edmund Rice Network is represented in five countries of Latin America: Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Perú, and Uruguay. This includes about forty Christian Brothers. To find out more about them, see their website www.familiaedmundorice.org
“He who knows most, knows how little he knows.” (Thomas Jefferson)
Sunday 29 October
30th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
WORLD PSORIASIS DAY
The skin-disorder of Psoriasis has become a world health challenge, affecting 3% of people. Though it is not contagious, it often involves stigma in addition to the discomfort of the disease itself. As yet there is no cure – see www.worldpsoriasisday.org
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” (Brian Tracy)
Saturday 28 October
BREAST-CANCER AWARENESS MONTH and
After skin-cancers, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer afflicting women. October has become the month that highlights this, prompting early detection and calling to mind those affected.
Make-a-Difference Day is celebrated on the 4th Saturday of October. Today is the 26th anniversary of this USA tradition of having a rallying day for community service. Though it is not an international observance, it will surely resonate with Edmund Rice people throughout the thirty-or-so countries where his spirit is making its mark.
“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” (Les Brown)
Friday 27 October
DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH
Another American initiative pinned to the month of October is a call to reaffirm commitment to equal opportunities. In particular this involves taking account of the employment needs – and acknowledging the contributions – of people living with all kinds of disabilities.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” (Winston Churchill)
Thursday 26 October
FAMILY HISTORY MONTH
The North American practice of highlighting family history in the month of October, like the honouring of ancestors in many ancient cultures, reminds us of the shoulders on which we stand and of the mystery of our interconnectedness.
“All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.” (Kabir)
Wednesday 25 October
The week of 24-30 October is Disarmament Week, a UN reminder of the need to reverse the dangerous arms race. On top of the threat posed by the very existence of nuclear weapons, an average of 2000 people die each day as a result of armed conflict, while landmines continue to maim people and to make huge areas unsafe and unusable.
“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” (Mark Twain)
Tuesday 24 October
UNITED NATIONS DAY and
WORLD DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION DAY and
ZAMBIA’s INDEPENDENCE DAY
United Nations Day helps to make known the UN’s aims and achievements and to attract broad-based ‘buy-in’ to caring about ‘the bigger picture’ and the voiceless in our world.
World Development Information Day coincides with United Nations Day to draw attention to the need for international co-operation in addressing the world’s development problems.
Zambia, celebrating its independence today, is a significant country in the Edmund Rice world. Christian Brothers from the USA and then from Ireland pioneered making the influence of Edmund felt in scattered and remote parts of this sparsely populated country. Some years ago their number was overtaken by Zambian-born Christian Brothers, and today the country has a growing network of Edmund Rice people. Western Zambia was chosen as the site for the Christian Brothers’ first new cluster of communities at the spearhead of a Congregation-wide plan called “Our Way into the Future”.
“Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.” (Epictetus)
Monday 23 October 2017
DIVERSITY AWARENESS MONTH
Diversity embraces all aspects of human life, from ethnicity and culture, to faith and sexuality, to gifts and needs, to style and taste. The month of October reminds us of our need for respectful appreciation and handling of differences, for the simultaneous acknowledgement of common ground, and for the spiritual movement to include rather than exclude.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” (Mark Twain)
Sunday 22 October
29th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
STUTTERING AWARENESS DAY and
BLESSED JOHN PAUL II
International Stuttering Awareness Day turns our attention to the challenges faced by the 60 million people who stutter – prejudice, discrimination, and even isolation. See www.isastutter.org
John Paul II, the Polish-born Pope who played the role of global Catholic bridge-builder (‘Pontiff’) for over 26 years, was beatified on 1 May 2010, so this is only the seventh time his feast day occurs. Like Edmund Rice, his life’s witness now awaits the official confirmation of canonization as a Saint.
“As you breathe right now, another person takes their last. So stop complaining, and learn to live your life with what you have.” (source unknown)
Saturday 21 October
Though historical details about St Ursula are vague – various traditions place her in four different centuries! – yet multiple legends and ways of honouring her demonstrate her lasting impact. In our prayer today we might remember Angela Merici’s Ursuline Sisters and their work in the education of girls.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” (M. Scott Peck)
Friday 20 October
BIRTH OF THE BÁB (BAHAI TRADITION) and
The Báb, the teacher and law-giver honoured as one of the forerunners of the Bahai faith, was executed at the age of thirty in 1850. His story, a classic tale of prophetic boldness and institutional reaction, can be read on Wikipedia.
Osteoporosis can be the underlying cause of a fracture, and often remains undiagnosed. See the website www.worldosteoporosisday.org
“Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations.” (Albert Einstein)
Thursday 19 October
THE NORTH AMERICAN MARTYRS and
CONFLICT RESOLUTION DAY
Eight Jesuit missionaries, killed in the mid-17th Century in Canada and upstate New York, often named as ‘Isaac Jogues and his Companions’, have become the patron saints of Canada, where their feast day is celebrated a week later than generally. This day is a reminder of the sacrifices that so many have made to share the light of Christ with people of other cultures.
Conflict Resolution Day, celebrated on the 3rd Thursday of October, promotes the use of peaceful means of resolving conflict in all spheres, from families to schools to governments. The website www.crnet.org/crday offers information and resources including a poster (i.a. in English y español).
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each guest has been sent as a guide from beyond.” (Rumi)
Wednesday 18 October
Luke the Evangelist, apparently a medical man, is credited with writing not only one of the four Gospels but also the Acts of the Apostles. One feature of his Gospel is its feminine emphasis – its special interest in the female characters in the story of Jesus and the ‘feminine side’ of Jesus himself. Recalling this is also a reminder of the strong feminine influences in the life of Edmund Rice – his mother Margaret, his wife Mary, his daughter Mary, Nano Nagle, St Teresa of Avila, and of course Mary the mother of Jesus. It may also be a day to celebrate the distinctive contribution of women to the whole ministry tradition that has grown out of Edmund’s spirituality – from extraordinary teachers working in schools founded by Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers, to women of all ages involved in the spectrum of the Edmund Rice world today.
“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” (Napoleon Hill)
Tuesday 17 October
SAINT MARY MacKILLOP
Mary MacKillop was formally recognized five years ago today as Australia’s first Saint. Her fascinating story includes a crippling experience of excommunication (later lifted), the real ‘reason’ for which is becoming clearer – and more revealing – in our time. She founded the Sisters of St Joseph, or Josephites, who focused upon the education of the children of the poor, whom they followed to remote locations. Explore the story on the excellent website www.marymackillop.org.au
“To respond is positive, to react is negative.” (Zig Ziglar)
Monday 16 October 2017
anticipating tomorrow’s END POVERTY DAY
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is intended as a strategy to make the voice of the poor heard. See www.overcomingpoverty.org for a variety of resources.
“All progress occurs because people dare to be different.” (Harry Millner)
Sunday 15 October
28th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST TERESA OF AVILA and
GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY
St Teresa was a 16th Century Spanish Carmelite who is remembered as a mystic and a reformer. It is significant that this saint had a special attraction for Edmund Rice… the contemplative dimension of Edmund Rice spirituality continues to challenge his followers to this day.
Handwashing with soap, so taken for granted in the developed world, remains a challenge in developing lands; yet it is a simple and effective strategy for preventing the spread of many dangerous and ‘killer’ diseases. Whichever part of the globe we find ourselves in, remembering that it is the same globe, we can take part in today’s campaign either by prayer or direct action.
“The vision we have of our jobs determines what we do and the opportunities we see or don’t see.” (Charles Koch)
Saturday 14 October
WORLD STANDARDS DAY
The purpose of World Standards Day is to raise awareness of the importance of standardization to the global economy. The focus in 2017 is “Standards make cities smarter” – see the website www.iso.org
“Find something positive to think about and don’t let the conversation in your head end with a negative comment. Always end on a positive comment.” (Dr Tomi Bryan and Dr Jerry White)
Friday 13 October
OUR LADY OF FATIMA
100 years have passed since the famous appearances of Mary on the 13th day of several months in Portugal. Look up ‘Our Lady of Fátima’ on Wikipedia for a detailed account.
“Imagination grows by exercise and, contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” (Paul McCartney)
Thursday 12 October
COLUMBUS & THE AMERICAS
Today is the day when, 525 years ago, Christopher Columbus’ expedition party first came upon an island of the Americas, somewhere in the Bahamas. The term ‘discovery of America’ is controversial because its Eurocentric perspective can be interpreted as arrogant, yet 1492 remains a significant breakthrough in human history because it spanned a huge ocean and irreversibly linked continents.
“The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality.” (John Quincy Adams)
Wednesday 11 October
POPE JOHN XXIII and
DISASTER REDUCTION DAY
Beatified 17 years ago, John XXIII was the first Pope in 100 years to make pastoral visits in his Diocese of Rome. Though his appointment as Pope was seen as just a stop-gap, he had the vision to summon the Second Vatican Council, which has had such far-reaching consequences. His writings include these words which we might use in our prayer today: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.”
The International Day for Reduction of Natural Disasters, celebrated on the second Wednesday of October, turns the world’s eyes to the need for proactive efforts to prevent disasters, or at least reduce the risk of disaster, and to become alert and ready to respond when natural disasters happen. People who are poor are particularly vulnerable to such disasters – for example, it is estimated that each year up to 175 million children are affected by disasters. See the website www.unisdr.org
“Non performers focus on obstacles. Performers focus on results.” (Nido Qubein)
Tuesday 10 October
WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
In addition to its official purpose as “a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy”, today serves as a reminder of the importance of ‘mental hygiene’ – of all practices that promote good mental health: spiritual practices such as stillness and meditation, physical practices such as exercise and getting fresh air, and all those practices that sustain and enhance emotional well-being and stimulation of intellect and imagination…
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” (Margaret Mead)
Monday 9 October 2017
WORLD POST DAY and
JOHN HENRY NEWMAN and
CANADA’s THANKSGIVING DAY
World Post Day is an occasion to appreciate the gift of connectedness – the way the postal system evolved in response to this human need, and the way that telephones, e-mail, and internet-calls have enhanced our ability to be in touch with one another.
Cardinal Newman stands as a major figure in 19th Century Christianity, who like Edmund Rice now awaits canonization. When we sing “Lead kindly light” and “Praise to the holiest in the height”, we are singing his words.
Celebrated on the second Monday of October, Canada’s Thanksgiving Day was timed to give thanks to God at the close of the harvest season. We remember the Edmund Rice Network in Canada on this special day in their calendar.
“Obstacles cannot bend me. Every obstacle yields to effort.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
Sunday 8 October
27th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
“Opportunity is something more people would recognize if it didn't come disguised as hard work.” (source unknown)
Saturday 7 October
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY
The repetitive rhythm of the Rosary is echoed in other forms of prayer in other traditions. Perhaps this suggests a naturalness to this form of prayer – a support for concentration and for focusing. Certainly many have found repetitive prayer invaluable in times of illness, pain, and other forms of stress and distress. The late John Paul II developed an additional set of ‘Mysteries of Light’ to complement the Rosary’s traditional 3 sets of 5 mysteries, and further creativity with the form is always possible.
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” (Sir Winston Churchill)
Friday 6 October
anticipating the 54th ANNIVERSARY OF THE START OF VATICAN II (on 11 October)
The significance of the Second Vatican Council continues to unfold half a century later. It is the boldest illustration within living memory of the fact that the Church is a work in progress, a learning community whose understanding of itself and of God’s wisdom needs to keep growing.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” (Nelson Mandela)
Thursday 5 October
WORLD TEACHERS’ DAY
A day to remember with gratitude those Teachers who meant most to us and all true Teachers whose invaluable contribution to the world is largely made in humble obscurity. For those of us who are Teachers ourselves, perhaps today is also a reminder to pray for all those we have taught.
“Creating abundance is not about creating a life of luxury for everybody on the planet; it’s about creating a life of possibility.” (Peter Diamandis)
Wednesday 4 October
ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI and
WORLD ANIMALS DAY
The story of how Francis gradually came to understand his call to “repair my house which is falling into ruins” resonates for all who are responsive to signs of the Church straying from the way of Jesus. Francis is the patron saint of animals and of the natural environment. In addition to founding the Franciscans, his spirituality has inspired a large number of other congregations and groups – as has been happening with the spirituality of Edmund Rice in our time.
World Animals Day obviously arises from the feast of St Francis – a day for celebrating what Francis might have called “our little brothers and sisters” and perhaps specially for appreciating the unconditional love, forgiveness, and ‘bounce-back’ that our domestic dogs and cats model for us.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” (Charles Darwin)
Tuesday 3 October
anticipating WORLD SPACE WEEK
Starting tomorrow, the UN’s World Space Week – 4-10 October – is observed “to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”. See the website www.worldspaceweek.org
“Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.” (Mary Lou Retton)
Monday 2 October 2017
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF NON-VIOLENCE and
WORLD HABITAT DAY and
The International Day of Non-Violence commemorates Gandhi’s birthday (“Gandhi Jayanti”). The day serves to renew the challenge of finding constructive alternatives to violence, not just on the macro-scale, but in little everyday ways in our lives.
World Habitat Day, celebrated on the first Monday of October, is a UN invitation “to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.” See the website www.unhabitat.org
Though Guardian Angels may seem to belong to the faith of childhood, many of us have stories to tell in which we use this term to identify a pivotal presence or character that we have experienced. Perhaps we might acknowledge this day by getting in touch with all that is childlike in our faith, and hearing anew the affirmation that Jesus had for this.
“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big. Because to them it has always been big stuff.” (Catherine M. Wallace)
Sunday 1 October
26th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX and
WORLD SENIOR CITIZENS DAY and
Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a 19th Century Carmelite nun who died aged only 24, has inspired and encouraged many Christians with her way of simple trust in God. She is honoured as co-patron of Missions (along with St Francis Xavier) as an affirmation of the contribution that prayer can make to the work of spreading and sharing God’s Word.
The UN’s International Day of Older Persons is a reminder firstly to treasure our elderly and to honour the contribution they have made, and secondly to be aware of issues affecting them, such as the trial of failing faculties and the horror of elder-abuse.
Vegetarian Day is an annual invitation to consider embracing the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. The day celebrates “the joy, compassion, and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism”. See the website www.worldvegetarianday.org
“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. You can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price.” (Vince Lombardi)
Saturday 30 September
ST JEROME and
INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION DAY
St Jerome’s special role in the development of the Church was his translation of the Bible into Latin. “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, he said, and he spent his best years making the Scriptures more accessible to Christians of his day. A fitting memorial might be to affirm the role of Scripture in our lives by reviewing how it features in our spiritual practice.
International Translation Day marks the significance of a growing profession. It also symbolizes the way globalization has multiplied links across old barriers and called upon all of us to think and interact globally. The day is of course linked to St Jerome’s groundbreaking work.
“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” (Sam Levenson)
Friday 29 September
Today is the traditional feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, known in some parts of the world as Michaelmas, a name sometimes given to the first term of the academic year which starts around this time in those places. As Scripture portrays angels as messengers of God, today might be a good day for remembering those who have been God’s messengers in our lives.
“A person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.” (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche)
Thursday 28 September
WORLD RABIES DAY and
GREEN CONSUMER DAY
Every ten minutes someone in the world dies from the preventable disease of Rabies, usually as a result of a dog-bite; and nearly half of these deaths are children under the age of 15. World Rabies Day is a global initiative to raise awareness of this, and to move towards making the disease history through control, prevention, and education.
Green Consumer Day is an invitation to re-think what we buy and the impact this has on our environment. Though our individual choices may make only a negligible difference by themselves, together with others they can become a global shift in a healthier direction for our world.
“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.” (Rollo May)
Wednesday 27 September
ST VINCENT DE PAUL and
WORLD TOURISM DAY
Vincent de Paul was a French priest of humble origins whose life of dedication to the poor continues to highlight this key aspect of the mission of Christ and of his Body in the world today. There is a special resonance between the charisms of Vincent and Edmund.
The purpose of the United Nations World Tourism Day is “to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide”. The theme this year is sustainable tourism.
“Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud. Any of us will put out more and better ideas if our efforts are appreciated.” (Alexander Osburn)
Tuesday 26 September
REFLECTING ON PROGRESS
On this day in 1973 the Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time. Progress is typically marked in this kind of bigger/higher/wider/further/faster way, but it may set us pondering whether more is always an enhancement. The frequency with which we invoke the saying “Less is more” suggests that there is another way of evaluating things. And that is the kind of paradox to which Jesus so often pointed, in regard to the different way God sees things.
“Stop asking if the glass is half full or half empty. Instead ask: What's in it? How did it get there? What can I do with it?” (David Kaufman)
Monday 25 September 2017
Finbarr was an Irish monk who lived in an island hermitage before founding a monastic settlement and centre of learning that eventually grew into the city of Cork. He is the patron saint of this city with its strong connections to both the Presentation Brothers and Christian Brothers.
“Unrest of spirit is a mark of life; one problem after another presents itself and in the solving of them we can find our greatest pleasure.” (Karl Menninger)
Sunday 24 September
25th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
OUR LADY OF MERCY
The story behind the title ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ (also known as Our Lady of Ransom) goes back to the ransoming of slaves in the Middle Ages, an act of mercy with which Mary became associated. We might pray today for release from all forms of slavery which we encounter both in our own lives and in others – from addictions and unhealthy dependencies to abduction and trafficking.
“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping-stones out of stumbling blocks.” (Jack Penn)
Saturday 23 September
Padre Pio was an Italian Capuchin Priest who died in 1968 and whose practical spirituality continues to hold great appeal. He became famous – and controversial – because of his stigmata experience.
“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.” (Dr Wayne Dyer)
Friday 22 September
THE EQUINOX and
On this pivot day of Spring in the southern hemisphere and of Autumn in the northern hemisphere, the equinox, our prayer might embrace the connectedness of the globe and all the opposites and contrasts that it holds together.
Yesterday was also World Alzheimer’s Disease Day so let us keep in our prayers all those affected by this disease and its distressing effects. For information about the disease, see www.alz.co.uk
“Within our dreams and aspirations we find our opportunities.” (Sugar Ray Leonard)
Thursday 21 September
ST MATTHEW and
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE
Matthew, to whom one of the written gospel traditions is attributed, was a tax collector. In calling him to be a disciple, Jesus broke through a strong social taboo and simply waived aside religious prejudices about who was acceptable to God. One meaningful way to mark Matthew’s feastday might be to identify who is burdened by similar prejudices within us today.
The International Day of Peace invites us to creative acts of peace, and to strengthening the ideal of peace across the globe. See the websites www.internationaldayofpeace.org and www.peacebeginswithme.eu
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Wednesday 20 September
THE KOREAN MARTYRS
Over 8000 Koreans died in 19th century persecutions, and over 100 were canonized together in the 1980s. We might pray today for all who are restricted in any of the freedoms we take for granted.
“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of others, without being crippled by your own judgment.” (Ralph Marston)
Tuesday 19 September
This (frivolous) international observance, born of a pirate-like gutterance in reaction to a sports injury, might serve to focus our gratitude on the lighthearted side of life – on the gift of fun, on the leaven of parody and playfulness.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)
Monday 18 September 2017
WORLD WATER MONITORING DAY
Water Monitoring Day aims at involving and empowering citizens all over the world in the vital responsibility of monitoring the quality of our water. This is done by means of a simple test-kit that checks on a number of water-quality parameters. A recent aim was to extend participation to a million people in 100 countries.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” (John F. Kennedy)
Sunday 17 September
24th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
HILDEGARD OF BINGEN
A visionary mystic and artist, Hildegard, a German Benedictine Abbess, was a creative interpreter of theology. Among other forms, she wrote poetry and letters, composed music and songs, and devised the first surviving morality play. She is commonly, though not formally, regarded as a saint.
“The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing.” (Michael E. Gerber)
Saturday 16 September
WORLD OZONE DAY and
PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Surrounding the earth at a distance of about 25 km, the ozone layer offers protection from some harmful radiation. Its depletion by man-made chemicals became a popular concern in the mid-80s, and 2010 was set as the target date for eliminating all ozone-depleting substances. Efforts at raising awareness of other forms of environmental damage have continued to broaden, inviting the support of our hearts and hands.
Papua New Guinea appeared on the radar of the Edmund Rice community in 1950, and today there are a number of Christian Brothers communities and associates around the country. Let us pray for them as they celebrate 40 years of PNG’s independence.
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” (M. Scott Peck)
Friday 15 September
OUR LADY OF SORROWS and
Our Lady of Sorrows is a title highlighting the sufferings that Mary experienced in relation to her son Jesus – something with which mothers in particular might readily identify. This is one of a thread of monthly Marian feastdays that keep before our eyes the first Christian, who features so strongly in the spirituality of Edmund Rice.
Democracy is described by the UN as “a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life”. This international day is a reminder of this ideal, so varied in its expressions and so difficult to move beyond oversimplification to maturity. A day to pray for the attainment of life-giving human systems and for the lifting of all oppressive systems.
“Mastery is not perfection, it is journey, and the true master must be willing to try and fail and try again.” (George Leonard)
Thursday 14 September
EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
One of several days focused on the Cross upon which Jesus died, today is a reminder of the sacrifice and suffering inherent in following the way of Jesus. Though it tends to take most of his followers by surprise, and to leave us kicking and screaming in resistance, yet he warned us clearly to expect it. His life demonstrated what he meant, and his death on a cross was the final stamp of it. It’s also a day to pray for the Holy Cross Sisters whose kindness and collaboration we have enjoyed in parts of the Edmund Rice world.
“Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations.” (Albert Einstein)
Wednesday 13 September
ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
St John Chrysostom’s name means ‘golden-mouthed’ and his fame was particularly related to his gift for speaking. A day, perhaps, to express gratitude for all those whose words have inspired and energized us, those who have been Good News to hear.
“If you gave your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you would be light years ahead of where you now stand.” (Alan Cohen)
Tuesday 12 September
FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF MARY
This feast, celebrated for five centuries, is an expression and reminder of the Christian community’s sense of Mary’s extraordinary openness to God’s action. As Mary’s feasts all direct our attention to Jesus and his message, perhaps the most profound way to celebrate this day is to renew the openness of our hearts to God’s leading in our lives and our times.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” (Joseph Chilton Pearce)
Monday 11 September 2017
ST JEAN-GABRIEL PERBOYRE
Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the ‘Nine-Eleven’ attacks in New York and Washington, USA. Today we might keep in our prayer not only the 3000 people who died and the wider circle of those bereaved, but all the open sores of our world.
A French Catholic missionary in the first half of the 19th century, St Jean-Gabriel was martyred at the age of 38 after five years in China, strangled on a cross. His feast-day might remind us to pray for mutual acceptance between people of different faiths, for Christians in China, and for all who are persecuted or restricted because of their religious faith.
“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all!” (Michelangelo)
Sunday 10 September
23rd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY and
GIBRALTAR’S NATIONAL DAY
Suicide accounts for about 3000 deaths every year, and there are about twenty times that number of attempted suicides annually. Today’s international observance offers not only a reminder to do whatever we can do to help prevent such desperate action within our own circles of influence but also to pray for those who find themselves pulled down to this level of despair.
Gibraltar features in the story of Edmund Rice’s Brothers from as early as 1835. After a rocky start, they departed a couple of years later but returned in 1878 and maintained a presence for virtually 100 years until 1977. Let’s include the people of Gibraltar in our prayers on this their national day.
“True humor is fun - it does not put down, kid, or mock. It makes people feel wonderful, not separate, different, and cut off. True humor has beneath it the understanding that we are all in this together.” (Hugh Prather)
Saturday 9 September
ST PETER CLAVER
A Spanish-born Jesuit, Peter Claver spent forty years ministering to slaves in a port where they arrived after being transported across the Atlantic in horrifying conditions that killed a third of them and left many ill and terrified. We might pray for all those who died in this hard-to-imagine chapter of human history, and for those who suffer comparable dehumanization to this day.
“Gloom we have always with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending.” (Barbara Holland)
Friday 8 September
TRADITIONAL BIRTHDAY OF THE MOTHER OF JESUS and
INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY
Coming nine months after the feast of her Immaculate Conception, this feast of Mary’s birthday has been celebrated since the 5th century. Maybe we can say that it is one of countless traditional ways of acknowledging the level of spiritual evolvement that Mary represents for the human race, and how that played its role in the loving design of God.
International Literacy Day reminds us to treasure the gift – and power – of being able to read, while drawing our attention to the millions who do not have this as a result of poverty and prejudice. One in five adults is effectively illiterate, two-thirds of these being women, and over 70 million children are not in school. The worst literacy levels are in South & West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Arab States. This year the day focuses upon the theme of Literacies for the 21st Century. See www.unesco.org/en/literacy for more information.
“I can have peace of mind only when I forgive rather than judge.” (Gerald G. Jampols)
Thursday 7 September
THREATENED SPECIES DAY
Observed in Australia since 1996, Threatened Species Day reminds us of the vulnerability of creation, particularly to rash human practices. The growing international ‘red list’ of threatened species includes about 20% of all amphibians, about 10% of all mammals, and over 5% of all birds. Taking a lead from Australia, we might bring to our prayer today a concern for raised awareness and sensitivity.
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” (Muhammad Ali)
Wednesday 6 September
STILLBIRTH REMEMBRANCE DAY
Officially marked in much of North America, this day honours the thousands of babies who are stillborn, and is sometimes broadened to include other better-understood forms of pregnancy-loss and infancy-loss. In many cultures the days of “just not talking about it” have gone, and most people have some close experience of death during pregnancy or birth. In our prayer today we might join in this remembrance of children whose childhood was cut off before it began, and of the lasting grief of their mothers and those around them.
“People no not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” (F.M. Alexander)
Tuesday 5 September
TERESA OF CALCUTTA
Mother Teresa died 19 years ago at the age of 87, leaving a legacy of several groups devoted to hands-on service of the world’s poorest: her Sisters (the Missionaries of Charity, and their contemplative branch), a congregation of Brothers, three Lay groups, and a movement for Priests. Her style drew its share of criticism, but the authenticity of her wholeheartedness is unquestioned.
“Never forget that it is the spirit with which you endow your work that makes it useful or futile.” (Adelaide Hasse)
Monday 4 September 2017
CLEAR DAY (IN SCIENTOLOGY)
Scientology speaks of ‘Clear’ as that state of mind attained when a person has overcome the influence of unwanted emotions and is in control of mental energy. One of many models of human development, it might serve as a reminder to appreciate and welcome the progressive stages of growth we can see in ourselves and those around us. The birthstone of September happens to be the sapphire, standing for clear thinking.
“I looked for God in all the temples, mosques, and churches and found Him in my heart.” (Rumi)
Sunday 3 September
22nd SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST GREGORY THE GREAT
Gregory is remembered for his particularly vigorous thirteen-or-so years as Pope, during which he seems to have left very few thoughts unpublished. Born in Rome and coming to the papacy from a monastic background, he is seen as standing on the border between East and West, and between the ancient and medieval worlds. He is a reminder for us of the awesome growth the Body of Christ through the ages has undergone.
“Now never returns to us. Now is the only place we can be truly alive. Take care of now and you take care of your future.” (Shifu Yan Lei)
Saturday 2 September
A NEW ACADEMIC YEAR APPROACHES
One of the starts associated with September is the new academic year in many parts of the world. As this approaches, we might pray for increasingly holistic values in our world’s education systems.
“One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
Friday 1 September
START OF SOUTHERN SPRING & NORTHERN AUTUMN and
START OF THE NEW LITURGICAL YEAR IN EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
The start of the ‘in-between seasons’, Spring and Autumn, in the different hemispheres, is pinned to 1 September. These seasons of change and adaptation might call us to review what changes are befalling or calling us and to respond with openness, energy, and grace.
As the last third of the year begins, bringing signs of seasonal change, Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church begin a new liturgical year – earlier than the tradition that takes Advent as the cycle’s new start. Today might prompt us to pray for the millions of Christians who have been brought up in this distinctive tradition.
“Keep away from 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 31 August
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – INDEPENDENCE DAY
We remember today the people of the Caribbean nation, Trinidad and Tobago, on the Edmund Rice map since 1948, as they celebrate their independence from Britain in 1962.
“It may be possible to incorporate laughter into daily activities, just as is done with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.” (Michael Miller)
Wednesday 30 August
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE DISAPPEARED
This is a day to bring to mind people who have disappeared, imprisoned in undisclosed places and conditions – and their loved ones who are left in suspension and pain. In addition to secret imprisonment, estimated to be practiced in some 30 countries including the Philippines and Latin American nations, there are those who have disappeared and are presumed dead, whose families have never had the chance to bury them or reach closure.
“If you’re open to altering your plans a bit, you might achieve even better results than you'd anticipated.” (Peggy McColl)
Tuesday 29 August
EDMUND RICE’S ANNIVERSARY OF DEATH and
THE BEHEADING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Edmund Rice died on this day in 1844. In our prayer today, we might thank God for his life – a life that extends to this day through the countless groups and individuals who resonate to his spirit.
The story of the beheading of John is told in Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29, and this feastday is one of the earliest in Christian tradition. The fate of John illustrates the violence prompted by the fear that attends vested interests when confronted by courageous voices. We might pray today for all such courageous voices and for the gift of that same courage.
“You never regret being kind.” (Nicole Shepherd)
Monday 28 August 2017
ST AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
Augustine, famous as much for his conversion from a life of ‘debauchery’ as for his huge influence on Christian thought and theology, became a Bishop in the Roman Africa of the 4th/5th Centuries. His teachings are seen as landmarks in the history of the Church’s theology. Perhaps today we might pray for all who lead the intellectual vitality of our faith communities and for the energy to participate personally in this dimension of our faith.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who have made a difference in our lives.” (Dan Zadra)
Sunday 27 August
21st SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
St Monica was the mother of St Augustine, whose feast day follows tomorrow. Born in what is now called Algeria, her character and her prayer were instrumental in the Christian transformation of both her husband and her son. Her story continues to be a light in the life of many distressed mothers, and perhaps today invites us to join them in their prayers for their children.
“The darkest hour has only sixty minutes.” (Morris Mandel)
Saturday 26 August
ST DAVID LEWIS
David Lewis was an Englishman martyred for practicing his priesthood in 17th Century England where fear of ‘a Popish plot’ was the bogeyman of the day. His feast might remind us to pray for all those who in our time are threatened and intimidated because of the practice of their religious faith.
“Leadership is no longer about your position. It's now more about your passion for excellence and making a difference. You can lead without a title.” (Robin Sharma)
Friday 25 August
ST JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS and
URUGUAY’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
José de Calasanz, as he is called in Spanish, lived in C16-17th, spending the latter two-thirds of his 90 years in Rome. He is seen as the founder of free public education in Europe, at a time when education was inaccessible to most people, and started a religious order for this ministry. His schools were notable for their inclusiveness, welcoming Jewish and Protestant children alongside Catholics. The curriculum was broad, holistic, and practical. In regard to discipline, Joseph pioneered the preventive approach, later developed by Don Bosco. Tragically the enterprise was ruined by child sexual abuse committed by a member of the Order, who used his family’s influence and ecclesiastical power to perpetrate his crimes with impunity, frustrating Joseph’s efforts to deal with the damage and blackmailing him with the threat of suppression of his Order. This is in fact what happened near the end of Joseph’s life; he died in disgrace and it was only eight years later that the name of his Order was cleared.
The Edmund Rice Network has a presence in Uruguay: Montevideo’s Colegio Stella Maris. This is the day Uruguay celebrates its independence from Brazil, which came as far back as 1825.
“Never forget that it is the spirit with which you endow your work that makes it useful or futile.” (Adelaide Hasse)
Thursday 24 August
Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus, is often identified with Nathanael (of John’s Gospel). Tradition holds that his mission took him to India and that he died a martyr.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” (Mark Twain)
Wednesday 23 August
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE SLAVE TRADE & ITS ABOLITION
and ST ROSE OF LIMA
A day designated by UNESCO to memorialize the transatlantic slave trade. The horror of this chapter in human history may have been blunted by the passing of time, but its millions of abused souls can still enter our prayer today, as can the consequences that are playing out even now.
Rose of Lima became the first canonized saint of the Americas. Remembered for her combination of prayer and love for the poor, she only lived 31 years, spending the second half of her life as a Dominican. Her country, Perú, has an Edmund Rice Network including four Christian Brothers communities, two of these in Lima itself.
“I expect to pass through this life but once. If, therefore there can be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do for any fellow being let me do it now... as I shall not pass this way again.” (William Penn)
Tuesday 22 August
THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY
This title for the mother of Jesus attempts to acknowledge her unique role in God’s plan. Though Queenship may not speak to a modern world, it remains strongly based in Catholic tradition, occurring in classic prayers and hymns like Salve Regina, Ave Regina Coelorum, and Regina Coeli. Perhaps in our time we can find new freshness in the metaphor by focusing on its unfolding meaning rather than its dated reference.
“Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that you never miss the opportunity to give encouragement.” (George Adams)
Monday 21 August 2017
ST PIUS X
Pius X was a Pope who shared with Edmund a heart for the poor and compassion for the plight of poor people. This is the day he died, after eleven years in office.
“He who gives when he is asked has waited too long.” (Seneca)
Sunday 20 August
20th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
Bernard of Clairvaux, a leading figure in the history of monasticism, spent forty years as a monk. It was from this relatively peaceful state of life that he was called in to help settle controversy and strife in the Church. He became the first saint of the Cistercian Order. We could pray today for all who embrace the monastic life.
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” (source unknown)
Saturday 19 August
WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY
Being marked this year only for the ninth time, the UN-sponsored World Humanitarian Day commemorates the sacrifice of all who have spent or lost their lives responding to humanitarian crises. We are invited to bring to prayer the whole range of those who could be described as humanitarians, past and present, known and unknown to us, especially those who have made ‘the supreme sacrifice’ of their lives.
“Only one thing makes a dream impossible: a fear of failure.” (Paulo Coelho)
Friday 18 August
ST ALBERTO HURTADO
Chile’s second saint, Alberto Hurtado, was a Jesuit who lived in the first half of the 20th century. His energetic ministry to the poor of Chile focused especially on the needs of youth and on bringing the social teachings of the Church to oppressed workers. The questions and challenges he posed earned him labels from ruffled fellow Catholics. His practical sense of justice and his love for young people both have a clear resonance with Edmund Rice and his followers.
“If the earth were only a few feet in diameter, floating a few feet above a field somewhere, people would come from everywhere to marvel at it, declare it sacred and protect it.” (Joe Miller)
Thursday 17 August
Commemorated on his birthday, Jamaican Marcus Garvey rose to prominence as a leader within the African diaspora. His vision was of a solidarity and unity that transcended boundaries and dispersion. Perhaps our prayer today might embrace that ideal, in our own ways and contexts.
“The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won’t wait while you finish the work.” (Pat Clafford)
Wednesday 16 August
GOZAN NO OKURIBI (DAIMONJI)
The culmination of the festival of Gozan No Okuribi in Kyoto, Japan, involves the synchronized lighting of five giant mountainside bonfires to mark the departure of visiting ancestral spirits. Perhaps, in solidarity with this particular honouring of ancestors’ role in our lives, we might remember and reverence our own ancestors on this day.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in the quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” (Mary Jean Iron)
Tuesday 15 August
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY and
INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
The Assumption is the Jesus community’s understanding of what became of the very first Christian: that she was taken up into Christ’s state of fullness of life, as God’s promise of our destiny. It was on the feast of the Assumption that Edmund and his first Brothers made their first vowed commitment in 1808, and their permanent commitment the following year.
India today celebrates its independence as a nation, established in 1947. The Edmund Rice Network is very strongly represented in India – there are over two dozen communities of Christian Brothers around the country and a growing network of colleagues and associates and groups also taking their founding inspiration from Edmund Rice. Let us hold them all in our prayers on this day.
“Each moment contains a hundred messages from God.” (Rumi)
Monday 14 August 2017
ST MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
In the week after Edith Stein is remembered, comes the feast day of another Polish-born victim of Nazi madness: Maximilian died at Auschwitz just a year before her. A Franciscan priest, who had sheltered 2000 Jews at his friary as the Nazi persecution gathered force, he volunteered to take the place of a family man chosen to starve to death in the camp authorities’ petulant pouting about the apparent escape of a prisoner. He continued to celebrate the Eucharist in the death cell, and to maintain his inner peace, and finally died by injection, aged 47.
“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” (Lao-tzu)
Sunday 13 August
19th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
INTERNATIONAL LEFT-HANDERS’ DAY
Lefthanders live in a predominantly right-handed world. Today is intended to raise awareness of this particular minority experience, one among many such.
“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.” (Jim Rohn)
Saturday 12 August
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY
This UN sponsored Youth Day has as its theme this year “Youth building peace”. The Edmund Rice Network has over two centuries of experience of young people and dedicated involvement in the needs and strivings of youth. Though young people are always in our prayer, today’s international observance invites solidarity with youth globally.
“Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Harold Whitman)
Friday 11 August
ST CLARE OF ASSISI
St Clare’s story is intertwined with that of St Francis whose spirituality and ideals she embraced. It seems she was the first woman to write a Rule of Life for a congregation, a Rule whose radical demands she had to defend continually against the homogenizing pressures of Rome! Let us pray for her followers, known today as the Poor Clares.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” (Michaelangelo)
Thursday 10 August
Lawrence of Rome was a 3rd century deacon whom Pope Sixtus II placed in charge of the administration of the Church’s goods and care for the poor, a very telling combination of responsibilities and a reminder of a thread of best practice running through the Church’s history. He followed Sixtus to martyrdom at age 33.
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Carl Bard)
Wednesday 9 August
INDIGENOUS DAY and
Indigenous people, according to Wikipedia, “have historically formed and still currently form the minority/non-dominant sectors within majority-culture societies. The UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is an invitation to reflect on their aspirations and struggles.
Edith Stein, a philosopher, was born into a Jewish family, but became an atheist. She found Christianity through the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, and became a Carmelite. Moved by her Order to the Netherlands to escape the perveries of Hitler, she was nevertheless arrested as a Jewish convert and gassed at Auschwitz at the age of 50, a victim as much of the Holocaust as of the Christian opposition to the Nazis.
“The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” (Ken Hudgins)
Tuesday 8 August
ST DOMINIC and
ST MARY MacKILLOP and
WORLD HAPPINESS DAY
Today Dominicans around the globe celebrate the feastday of their founder Dominic de Guzman, a great champion of truth and authenticity. His Order of Preachers took as its motto the words “to praise, to bless, to preach”. Today invites us to pray for all Dominican men and women, especially those to whom we have special reason to be grateful.
Mary MacKillop was formally recognized in October 2010 as Australia’s first Saint. Her fascinating story includes a crippling experience of excommunication (later lifted), the real ‘reason’ for which is becoming clearer – and more revealing – in our time. She founded the Sisters of St Joseph, or Josephites, who focused upon the education of the children of the poor, whom they followed to remote locations. Explore the story on the excellent website www.marymackillop.org.au
World Happiness Day is noted in www.betterworldcalendar.com as a day to celebrate happiness globally. Incidentally this site was founded to honour a young woman who was murdered six years ago.
“We can’t change the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” (source unknown)
Monday 7 August 2017
Forgiveness Day is described as “a day to forgive and be forgiven … a chance to set things right”, to “put aside old differences, move beyond grievances and hurts and start afresh”. An interesting website on this theme is www.forgivenessalliance.org
“Wisdom is knowing what path to take next... Integrity is taking it.” (source unknown)
Sunday 6 August
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS and
NO-NUKES DAY (HIROSHIMA DAY) and
BOLIVIA’s NATIONAL DAY
The story of the Transfiguration of Jesus prompts us to reflect on shifts in our consciouness, on the mountaintop experiences of our lives, and the call to live in the ordinary with awareness of the extraordinary.
Hiroshima was atom-bombed 70 years ago today. In a past message for this day on the website www.wagingpeace.org the President of the Nuclear Age Foundation, David Krieger, points out that “The world currently spends more than $1,5 trillion annually on weapons, war and the preparation for war, while spending only a small portion of this on efforts to meet human needs and achieve social justice” – a cameo negatively illustrating what Jesus meant by “the Kingdom of God”.
Bolivia is one of the Latin-American countries in which the Edmund Rice Network has a presence. See the Latin American Region’s website www.familiaedmundorice.org which frequently features the Christian Brothers community in Cochabamba.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy that is translated through you; and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.” (Martha Graham)
Saturday 5 August
INTERNATIONAL BEER DAY
International Beer Day, only nine years old, comes as a reminder of the importance of relaxation and fun.
“Every positive change - every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness - involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.” (Dan Millman)
Friday 4 August
ST JOHN VIANNEY and
COOK ISLANDS: CONSTITUTION DAY
More correctly named Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, this humble French parish-priest has become the much-loved patron of all priests. It is well known that he was a struggler academically, but he proved to have a particular gift for helping penitents open up in the confessional. His feast-day may prompt us to pray for all the priests in our lives.
The Cook Islands came on to the Christian Brothers’ map in 1976, eleven years after the establishment of self-government. Let us hold the islanders in our prayer as they honour their Constitution today.
“If successful people have one common trait, it's an utter lack of cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission; they're driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing on the positives.” (Mike Zimmerman)
Thursday 3 August
John’s Gospel mentions Nicodemus in chapters 3, 7, and 19. He was a Pharisee who broke out of the straitjacket of complacent religious righteousness. What does his story have to say to those of us who have lived all our lives in a neat religious framework?
“Experiment with this mental model: It is my duty and privilege to be of service. I will do whatever I can to make life easier for all people who cross my path.” (Srikumar Rao)
Wednesday 2 August
Remembering SWISS NATIONAL DAY (yesterday)
Switzerland is on the Edmund Rice Network map because of the presence of our advocacy NGO, Edmund Rice International, in Geneva. See their website www.edmundriceinternational.org
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” (T.S. Eliot)
Tuesday 1 August
ST ALPHONSUS LIGUORI
Alphonsus was an 18th Century Italian Priest (later made Bishop) with a special zeal for marginalized youth. In addition to this resonance with the Edmund Rice tradition, we had a Christian Brother from the same family – the late Dominic Liguori of South Africa. Let us keep in our prayer today the Congregation founded by Alphonsus, the Redemptorists.
“There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” (Mohandas Gandhi)
Monday 31 July 2017
ST IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Ignatius, the name of the Spanish founder of the Society of Jesus, was chosen by Edmund Rice as a symbol of his vowed consecration to God as a Brother in 1808. We pray today in thanksgiving for the continued fruitfulness of that consecration, and we include in our prayers the Jesuits and other Ignatian groups around the world.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)
Sunday 30 July
17th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ST PETER CHRYSOLOGUS
Peter was a 5th Century Bishop known for brief inspired talks – hence the description ‘chrysologus’, golden-speech. Legend holds that his brevity came from a fear of boring his audience, a form of respect that many of us would appreciate, and a reminder that less is often more.
“If people are coming to work excited... if they're making mistakes freely and fearlessly... if they're having fun... if they're concentrating doing things, rather than preparing reports and going to meetings - then somewhere you have leaders.” (Robert Townsend)
Saturday 29 July
The two best known Gospel stories in which Martha appears are in Luke 10 and John 11. Christian spirituality has tended to caricature her as an over-busy workaholic whom Jesus had to chide. But closer examination of Luke’s story might find a more three-dimensional person: someone Jesus loved and appreciated and whom he invited to move beyond her comfort-zone into a fuller life. John’s story portrays a woman of strong faith, forthright and on close terms with Jesus – and it seems significant that on this occasion both Martha and Mary greet him with the same statement.
“Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.” (Greg Anderson)
Friday 28 July
PERÚ’S INDEPENDENCE DAY and
WORLD HEPATITIS DAY
The Edmund Rice Network was planted in Perú by the arrival of the Christian Brothers in 1967. There are about twenty Brothers there today, living in four communities: two in Chimbote and two in Lima (Canto Grande and Las Flores). Let us pray today for the members and ministry of the ERN in Perú.
Hepatitis Day aims to raise awareness of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and encourage prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These diseases affect 1 in 12 people. Left untreated, they can lead to serious and fatal diseases of the liver.
“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” (Henry Van Dyke)
Thursday 27 July
STRESSDOWN DAY and
From LifeLine Australia comes an invitation to consciously take note of the stress in our lives and to do something about it – even a token action like “wear your slippers, dress up or dress down”. See the dedicated website www.stressdown.org.au
The month of July was named in honour of Julius Caesar, whose birth-month it was. In Christian tradition Caesar has come to symbolize the claims of the state (“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar…”), July might prompt us to pray for the legitimate needs and strivings of the states where we live or have our origins.
“The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.” (Sir John Lubbock)
Wednesday 26 July
ST JOACHIM & ST ANNE
Nothing reliable is documented about the parents of Mary, mother of Jesus – even their names come to us only via legend. But however obscure they are, they were the couple who formed in Mary that receptive simplicity: “Be it done to me as you are saying”. So whatever their names were, let us join in the tradition of honouring them in our prayer today.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” (Zig Ziglar)
Tuesday 25 July
St James and his younger brother John, the sons of Zebedee, were among the first disciples to join Jesus, and were known as “sons of thunder”, possibly a reference to volatile temper or maybe just to energy. They were two of the three that Jesus chose to be with him on the occasion of what we now call ‘the Transfiguration’ and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“By your choices you reveal your commitments.” (Marlene Chism)
Monday 24 July 2017
anticipating St CHRISTOPHER’S DAY tomorrow
Long popular as the traditional patron saint of safe travel, Christopher was – according to legend – particularly tall and strong, and took up a hermit’s challenge to serve Christ by transporting people safely across a river. Though he no longer features in our liturgical calendar, his story teaches us to use our personal abilities for the good of others knowing that whatever is done to our neighbour is as good as done to Christ.
“Doing what's expected of you can make you good, but it's the time you spend going above and beyond what's required that makes you great!” (Josh Hinds)
Sunday 23 July
16th SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME and
ALL EARTH DAY
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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)