Monday, December 4, 2017

Human Rights Day - 10 December

Fasting Guide
Our understanding of fasting is to abstain from something voluntarily, in this case we are primarily talking about not eating, either for the entire day or at least for one meal.  There is no right or wrong way to fast. 
Please be sure to still drink lots of fluids; and if at any time you begin to feel lightheaded or weak, you should eat something right away. 

Who should not fast?
You shouldn’t fast if you are pregnant, less than 12 years old, diabetic, or suffer from an eating disorder.

How can you participate if you can’t fast from food?
You can still fast from activities that contribute to violence in our world (thoughts, words, and actions). 

What intentions should I include in my prayer?
·       For the prevention of nuclear war and all wars.
·       For the grace to grow in virtue, that will help us to live Jesus’ model of Gospel nonviolence.
·       For the comfort and relief of those suffering from violence, especially those who have lost a loved one to violence.
·       For the Church and our Congregation that we may be a prophetic voice and witness in transforming the world to uphold the values of just peace and nonviolent conflict resolution. 

Prayer and Reflection Guide for the Fast
If you are alone and/or working, we encourage you to take some time – especially during the meal you are fasting – in silence with God reflecting on the scripture and questions below.  If possible, we encourage you to also take some time with your family or community to share about your experience and answers to the reflection questions below. 

Biblical Texts
We know that violence and war permeate our world and our lives today.
·       Psalm 120:6-7 “I have lived too long with those who hate peace.  I stand for peace, but when I talk of peace, they want war!” 
·       Psalm 140:1-2 “Deliver me YHWH from evildoers; protect me from those who are violent, who plan evil thing in their hearts, and start new wars every day.” 

We can be strengthened through prayer and practice with the peace that comes from the Prince of Peace. 
·       Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace…”
·       John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; but the kind of peace I give you is not like the world’s peace.” 

We are called as followers of Christ, and children of God, to continue this work as peacemakers in the world.
·       Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
·       Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor – but hate your enemy.’ I say to you, ‘love your enemies and pray for your persecutors.  This will prove that you are children of God.’”
·       Romans 12:18,21 “Do all you can to be at peace with everyone.  Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by doing good.” 
·       1 Corinthians 7:15 “God has called us to live in peace.” 
Inspired by a new imagination rooted in the love and peace of God, we are called as peacemakers to help realize God’s kindom here on earth as it is in heaven. 
·       Romans 12:2 “Don’t conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you can judge what God’s will is – what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” 
·       Isaiah 11:9 “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the YHWH as the waters cover the sea.”
·       Romans 14:17 “For the Kindom of God is a matter not of eating and drinking, but of justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 

Reflection Questions:
How can we change?
“Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39)… Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”. To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” (Pope Francis’ Message for World Day of Peace 2017)

Personal Level 
·       What stirs in me as I participate in this day of prayer and fasting?  What thoughts or feelings arise?
·       How is my hunger today connected to those who hunger every day for peace, safety, and comfort? 
·       What do I need to change in my own heart and mind in order to cultivate peace within myself and in turn the world?
·       For what do I need to ask God’s forgiveness and for what do I need to forgive others? 
Community/ Family Level
·       What kind of world do we want to be actively creating right now and in the future? 
·       Why might the whole of creation need us to work for peace and justice? 
·       How is the call to peace and nonviolence connected with responding to the cries of the earth and the cries of the poor? 
·       How can we incorporate the work for peace into our daily prayer lives? 
·       How can I continue to educate myself and take action to prevent further violence in my community and prevent the spread of wars internationally? 

Closing Prayer: (by Sr. Lyz Szymkiewicz, CSJ)
God of Great Love, we commit ourselves to living in the most sincere, true and profound humility so that we might give voice to your gospel of peace. Empower us with your grace of union and reconciliation so that we might be impelled to give our whole lives for those deprived of bread, peace and love. Allow us the courage to give voice to the cries of the poor, to the terror of those at war, to the humiliation of the many who are disenfranchised. May your healing and unifying love flow through us in such a way that it honors every neighbor on Earth, without distinction, in a manner that glorifies you as the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of all life. Amen

Additional Prayer Resources and Educational Materials:

·       SONG: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace:
·       SONG/VIDEO: Let there Be Peace on Earth:  

·       Recommended Websites:  
o   Pax Christi:
o   Catholic Nonviolence Initiative:
o   Pace E Bene:

·       VIDEO: The Church must recommit to Gospel nonviolence

·       VIDEO:  Fighting with Nonviolence

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