Rolled into a sphere,
Packaged in sunshine,
Gift-wrapped in love,
Given to us,
||Women form over half of the world’s population yet there are very few women in decision-making positions. Women are also most often the members of the community who are directly involved in the land. Many women are farmers and yet often cannot own the land, which they farm because of patriarchal (male dominated) systems of land ownership and access to credit. By giving women more rights and decision-making powers, they will be able to have more say in creating more sustainable lifestyles and improving the quality of life for themselves and their families. In South Africa, women and youth are specifically identified as being significant role-players in sound environmental management. Increased environmental awareness, opportunity and environmental education for youth and women are direct means of improving environmental quality in South Africa, and of ensuring greater action to improve the quality of the existing environment.
Prayerfully reflect on this
||“The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God…We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
Romans 8. 19,22 &23
||Heavenly Father, we praise You and we thank You for the gift of our mothers, through whom You give us life and through whom we experience love. We thank You for Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, a mother so gracious and a woman of example in motherhood for all of us.
||People are often unreasonably illogical and self-centred
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
What you may spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
- We pray for many women involved in conservation, scientific research, social upliftment and environmental awareness education.
- We give thanks for these women
- We pray that they may be blessed and strengthened in their work
- We pray for their protection (many are on the front lines of poaching control and in turbulent areas
- We pray that the funding required for their important work will be made available
“We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.”
(Poet and Author)
Prayer of Blessing in honour of Women
God of Sarah and Hagar, Naomi and Ruth, Esther and Deborah,
God of Mary and Elizabeth, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lydia,
and all the unnamed women of scripture,
As you anointed these women with the oil of faith and calling,
so anoint women everywhere.
As you blessed these women with finding the courage and strength, persistence and perseverance within them, so bless women everywhere.
As you transformed the world through the vision and work of these women,
continue to transform the world through the vision and work of good women everywhere.
Across the world,
may women continue to form and build community in ways that birth justice, love and peace among us.
In gestation and through the labouring, keep them focused, strong, steadfast and unwavering.
God, bless the women who continue to work tirelessly, often unnoticed,
but full of beauty and power, for all manner of good.
Continue to make them vessels of your sustenance; instruments of your peace; an inspiration to all.
World Lion Day
Today is World Lion Day, and as the years pass, the celebration of this day becomes bittersweet as the magnificent cat species faces greater threat. With less than 100 000 lions left on the planet, it is important that we look at conservation and preservation of the few big cats left. Lion populations across the Continent has shrunk by massive 75% in the past two decades. Lions are currently listed “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species.
Trophy hunting, human encroachment, poaching, lion poisoning, illicit trade in lion bones and human/lion conflict have become a grave concern, prompting educational and awareness campaigns to save the king of the jungle.
Captive breeding and the canned hunting of lions is an unethical and cruel treatment of these magnificent creatures. The ‘trophies’ won by canned hunters represent a brutal end for cubs’ hand-raised for a bullet in captive breeding facilities. By allowing these industries to thrive in South Africa, the Department is facilitating a culture of exploitation that places financial reward over ethical principles.
Reintroduction for captive bred lions into the wild is an onerous and costly exercise with poor results it is far better to protect the naturally occurring ones.
Have we ever thought what we will do when we realise the last lion has been shot or poisoned? It will be a sad day indeed when we sit in the African bush and not hear the lion roar?
Pray that all efforts from Conservationists in this regard are truly blessed.
World Elephant Day
After years of being regarded as an unassailable haven for wildlife, South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park has been hit by elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade – and this is expected to increase dramatically in the Kruger Park
The various criminal syndicates involved in poaching are likely finding their niches, with foreign and smaller syndicates finding lower-risk elephant ivory a worthy goal, while other syndicates, some operating from within South Africa, are finding new targets to acquire the low-risk, high-reward rhino horn.
Thankfully, co-operation between the Kruger National Park authorities and bordering communities are bearing fruit and have reported that there has been a steep decline in elephant poaching.
Pray that this success may continue.
SDG Goal #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.
Prayerfully reflect on this
Read Matthew 15:21-28
“Woman, you have great faith.”
“I have always loved the story of the Canaanite woman – a feisty and loving mother who is going to find a cure for her daughter in any way possible. She is prepared to ask for help from someone she would never normally approach – a Jewish teacher – but she has heard of his miracles and power and is determined her daughter is going to be cured, no matter what it takes.
She tackles Jesus head on, shouting out her request, and hears Jesus saying quite sternly that his mission is for the Jews only. The Canaanite woman comes straight back at Jesus with the retort that anyone can eat the scraps which are lying around the table.
Now it is Jesus’ turn to be nonplussed – she opens his eyes to the reality of his mission which is for everyone, not just the Jews. She gets the cure for her daughter and her stance is paid off. Jesus in his turn is startled by her faith and love which is more than that of many of his chosen people.”
Like you, Jesus, we are often astounded by the faith and courage of others. We ask that you strengthen our faith, especially in these days of austerity, to plead on behalf of the poor and the marginalised in our world. May they be given the help they need to live a life of dignity. Amen.
This reflection and prayer were written by Sister Bridgetta Rooney of Saint Joseph and Peace. This congregation is dedicated to bringing peace and justice to the world by their work and prayer.
Pope Francis – Laudato Si
183. “Environmental impact assessment should not come after the drawing up of a business proposition or the proposal of a particular policy, plan or programme. It should be part of the process from the beginning and be carried out in a way which is interdisciplinary, transparent and free of all economic or political pressure. It should be linked to a study of working conditions and possible effects on people’s physical and mental health, on the local economy and on public safety. Economic returns can thus be forecast more realistically, taking into account potential scenarios and the eventual need for further investment to correct possible undesired effects. A consensus should always be reached between the different stakeholders, who can offer a variety of approaches, solutions and alternatives. The local population should have a special place at the table; they are concerned about their own future and that of their children and can consider goals transcending immediate economic interest. We need to stop thinking in terms of “interventions” to save the environment in favour of policies developed and debated by all interested parties. The participation of the latter also entails being fully informed about such projects and their different risks and possibilities; this includes not just preliminary decisions but also various follow-up activities and continued monitoring. Honesty and truth are needed in scientific and political discussions; these should not be limited to the issue of whether or not a particular project is permitted by law.”
Prayerfully reflect on this
||We return thanks to our mother,
the earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines
for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn,
and to her sisters, the beans and squash,
which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air,
has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given us their light
when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
who has given to us his rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth
with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit.
in whom is embodied all goodness.
and who directs all things,
for the good of his children.
An Iroquois Prayer
in Powerful Prayers for Everyday Living by Mark Linden O’Meara
||Research published in Nature has reviewed data from the last 50 years showing that when temperatures rise, GDP and other economic measures fall in most nations, due to factors including labour productivity, agricultural output and health. The conclusion reached is that if the world meets the 1.5°C target set in the Paris Agreement, nations representing 90% of the global population would benefit economically by some $30 trillion, representing 3% growth in GDP by the end of this century. The world’s biggest economies – the US, China and Japan – would benefit, as would Australia and South Africa, but the biggest winners would be Middle Eastern countries which would otherwise be threatened with extreme heat waves beyond the limit of human survival. Professor Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University said: “The exact size of the benefit will depend, for example, on whether new technologies are created that help societies adapt to global warming, such as clean, cheap air conditioning, or whether climate change tipping points are passed, bringing more severe damage such as rapid sea level rise.” http://www.greenchristian.org.uk
Pray that all nations will all do their part in meeting the Paris Agreement targets.
||“Now, O son of God, set in the valley of true humility, walk in peace without pride of spirit, which, like a precipitous mountain, offers a difficult, or near-impossible, ascent or descent to those who attempt to scale it, and on its summit no building can be built. For a person who tries to climb higher than he can achieve possesses the name of sanctity without substance, because, in name alone without a structure of good works, he glories in a kind of vain joy of the mind.”
Hildegard of Bingen,
letter to the Monk Guibert, 1176
World Mosquito Day
It might seem strange to ‘celebrate’ the mosquito, given their role in the spread of many infectious diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, West Nile Virus and the recent global health emergency created by the Zika virus. However, the relationship between mosquitoes and the spread of disease was not always known. World Mosquito Day celebrates the discovery of the role mosquitoes play in malaria transmission. On this day in 1897, Sir Ronald Ross made a breakthrough that would later earn him a Nobel Prize in Medicine when he found malaria parasites in dissected mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. By identifying mosquitoes as the agents that spread the parasite from person to person, Ross opened the way for us to reduce the risk of malaria infection by controlling the mosquito itself.
Despite successes in research and the war against Malaria, over 3 billion people are still at risk of contracting the disease. There were nearly half a million malaria deaths in 2015, and many of these were children under the age of five.
“Whilst World Mosquito Day is an opportunity to appreciate the fascinating biology of these creatures, we can also reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in monitoring and controlling mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.” – Dr Frances Hawkes, Research Fellow and Entomologist
- Continued breakthroughs in research involved with mosquito-borne diseases
- For the many people affected by and infected with these diseases
- For the necessary funding to be available for combating this problem
Kinship with All Life
Joanna Macy vividly reconnects our seemingly separate selves with nature, both present and past:
The conventional notion of the self with which we have been raised and to which we have been conditioned by mainstream culture is being undermined. What Alan Watts [1915-1973] called “the skin-encapsulated ego” . . . is being replaced by wider constructs of identity and self-interest—by what philosopher Arne Naess [1912-2009] termed the ecological self, co-extensive with other beings and the life of our planet. It is what I like to call “the greening of the self.” . . .
Among those who are shedding these old constructs of self . . . is John Seed, director of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia. One day . . . I asked him: “You talk about the struggle against the lumber companies and politicians to save the remaining rain forests. How do you deal with the despair?”
He replied, “I try to remember that it’s not me, John Seed, trying to protect the rain forest. Rather, I am part of the rain forest protecting itself. I am that part of the rain forest recently emerged into human thinking.” This is what I mean by the greening of the self. It involves a combining of the mystical with the pragmatic, transcending separateness, alienation, and fragmentation. It is . . . “a spiritual change,” generating a sense of profound interconnectedness with all life. . . .
. . . Unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible. . . .
By expanding our self-interest to include other beings in the body of the Earth, the ecological self also widens our window on time. It enlarges our temporal context, freeing us from identifying our goals and rewards solely in terms of our present lifetime. The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception. Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first splitting and spinning of the stars.
Thus the greening of the self helps us to reinhabit time and our own story as life on Earth. We were present in the primal flaring forth, and in the rains that streamed down on this still-molten planet, and in the primordial seas. In our mother’s womb we remembered that journey, wearing vestigial gills and tail and fins for hands. Beneath the outer layer of our neocortex and what we learned in school, that story is in us—the story of a deep kinship with all life, bringing strengths that we never imagined. When we claim this story as our innermost sense of who we are, a gladness comes that will help us to survive.
From Richard Rohr’s daily meditations
||“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.”
The Story of the Hummingbird
“We are constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed.
The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So, it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can.
In the meantime, all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, they are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little, and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’
But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’
And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird, I will do the best I can. “
Environmental activist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
||“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.”
||“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
An African Blessing
May the call of the Hadedahs awaken you to God’s presence.
May the exquisite beauty of the Lourie open your eyes to the wonder of God’s magnificent creation.
May the scurrying and busyness of the Guinea Fowls inspire you to walk as Jesus walked.
May the evocative call of the Fish Eagle point you to the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit.
May the rising of the sun bring to your mind the mighty resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May the clear blue skies stir you to praise the Lord of heaven and earth.
May the heat of the noon-day sun cause you to bend the knee in prayer for our continent.
May the shade of the acacia trees remind you that the Lord will walk with you through the shadows.
May our lofty mountains point you again and again to the Lord Jesus who is the ‘rock that is higher than I’.
May our rivers and streams lead you to drink ever more deeply from the well of life.
May our dry parched landscapes cause your heart to pant for the cooling steams of God’s Spirit.
May the brightness of the moon at eventide so lighten your spirit that you may know the peace and serenity of contentment in Christ Jesus.
May the plaintive call of the Night-jar open your ears to God’s cry of the needy.
May the twinkly of the stars in the Milky Way, and the poise of the Southern Cross, cause you to fall on your knees in adoration of the One who was lifted up on the cross for you.
And to him be praise and glory in Africa and indeed in every continent for ever and ever
Bishop Eric Pike: Waymarks for the Way.2017 NISC Grahamstown.
(Please acknowledge the source should you wish to use this Prayer.)
SDG Goal #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- About two thirds of countries in the developing regions have achieved gender parity in primary education
- In Southern Asia, only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. By 2012, the enrolment ratios were the same for girls as for boys.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and Western Asia, girls still face barriers to entering both primary and secondary school.
- Women in Northern Africa hold less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The proportion of women in paid employment outside the agriculture sector has increased from 35 per cent in 1990 to 41 per cent in 2015
- In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.
Prayerfully reflect on this Prayerfully reflect on this
“Then the devil led Jesus up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Covetousness and envy are complicated and difficult emotions. Theologians across the centuries have written about the damage that they cause both to the person who envies and the person who is the object of envy. From a pastoral perspective, our society is a complicated place when it comes to covetousness and envy for the simple reason that there is so much advertising designed to make us covet. As Jesus taught, being tempted in this way is a dangerous thing.
||Creator God, we thank you for the beauty of the earth, for the diversity of land and sea, for the resources of the earth. Give us the will to cherish this planet and use its riches for the good and welfare of all. God of life
hear our prayer.
God our Creator, we thank you for the warmth of the sun, the light of the moon,
the glory of the stars and the clean air we breathe. Save us from wasting or abusing the energy upon which all life depends. God of life
hear our prayer.
God of grace, we thank you for the gift of life you give us pray for those who work to care for creation: those preserving forests and oceans, air and water, animals and plants. Help us to protect the environment so that all life may flourish.
hear our prayer.
create in us such a sense of wonder and delight
in the gifts in Creation,
that we might receive them with gratitude,
care for them with love
and generously share them with all your creatures,
to the honour and glory of your holy name.