Letter: Children praying for peace
Aleppo, 27 November 2016
First Sunday of Advent
To all the friars of the Order of Friars Minor
to the Poor Clares,
to the sisters to the brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order,
and to all women and men of good will
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Matthew 18: 10).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the Lord give you peace!
For a long time, as Friars Minor, we have been concerned about the situation that our brothers are experiencing together with the Christians and the entire population of Syria. Not long ago, we called on the international community to intensify its efforts to stop the war and the suffering of the civilian population and to make every effort to achieve peace.
Now, at the beginning of Advent, a time in which the Lord Jesus invites us to insistently watch and pray, we want to propose to all our communities the “Children praying for peace” initiative. It began as an idea from the “Aid to the Church in Need” project, and we wish to join it as the Order of Friars Minor, and to relaunch it on an international level on a monthly basis. This initiative comes from the awareness that the King of the Universe, the King of Peace, is the true source of all peace. Our Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, which has been strongly affected by the tragedy of war and which has been tenaciously anchored to its hope for peace, has already joined the initiative. From Aleppo, we are now sending out our invitation to the whole world.
Starting in Advent 2016, we wish to join this initiative as the Order of Friars Minor and we want to encourage all of the communities, parishes and schools entrusted to our pastoral care and to all of the organizations close to us [to join in the initiative]; and we also encourage them to spread the word to other ecclesiastical and religious communities in the areas in which the Friars Minor as live and operate. We believe that the Lord hears the cry of the “little ones” and that their prayer their will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are “big.”
We are asking each community to dedicate their children's mass, or the mass most frequented by children, on the first Sunday of every month, to prayer for peace, according to what is locally possible. The same thing can be done in a celebration during the Oratory or by involving the schools, thus, in this way giving an ecumenical and interreligious spirit to the initiative.
If a community does not have a children's liturgy or if it does not have a ministry for Oratories or a school, it can make the gesture during the communal Praises or Vespers, or on an occasion created especially for this initiative.
Here are some practical suggestions so as to unify the form of the celebration, taking from the example of how it is done in Aleppo: after the initial greeting and the introduction of the celebration by the priest, some children will process in with a lighted candle, which will be placed near the altar, in a visible place, while all sing, or while they recite the “simple prayer” for peace.
In addition to this, different intentions from the Prayer of the Faithful will be dedicated to peace in people's hearts, peace for the families and peace in Aleppo and all around the world. The songs should also be dedicated to the theme of peace.
If the prayer is carried out outside of the Eucharistic celebration, it can always be adapted to the celebration, maintaining the symbol of the candle lighting, along with the simple prayer and songs for peace (remembering to always explain to the children that this prayer is in communion with all of the children of the world for peace in Syria, especially in Aleppo and for peace in the world).
Simple prayer for peace
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is error, Truth;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sadness, joy;
where there is darkness, light.
O Divine Master, grant That I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving That We receive,
it is in pardoning That we are pardoned,
and it is in dying That we are born to Eternal Life.
We ask all those who take heed to our proposal, to report it on to our Facebook page: bambiniinpreghieraperlapace.
God bless every effort for peace and may he listen to the cry and the prayer of His children.
Fr. Michael A. Perry OFM
Fr. Francesco Patton OFM
Custos of the Holy Land
Held on November 12, 2016, in Shkodra (Albania).
The new National Minister is Florinda Sterkaj and the international councillor is Lazer Gega.
Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis
FAMILY COMMISSION Silvia Diana - OFS
Translation: Mary Stronach OFS
CONCLUSIONS OF THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY OCTOBER 2015
Chapter IV presents Family, affection (emotions) and life. We continue to integrate the richness of the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Lætitia (AL) and sharing our local realities, and reflecting on the beautiful treasure that is the family. We propose questions that help us to share, and we propose reading some points of the documents that we quote in the text.
Share in fraternity:
1. The Importance of a Life of Affection (Emotions)
1- How is the dialogue in our marriage and family life?
2- What are our strengths and what are our weaknesses?
3- What aspects are necessary or conducive -- to live, express and communicate better --with the purpose of making the mutual love of spouses more mature?
30. […] The Church’s challenge is to assist couples in the maturation of the emotional aspect of their relationship and in their emotional development through fostering dialogue, the life of virtue and trust in the merciful love of God. The commitment to full dedication required in Christian marriage is a strong antidote to the temptation of a person’s living an existence exclusively turned inwardly upon himself.
Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life. […] ( AL 136 )
Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say. . […] ( AL 137 ) .
[…] Love surmounts even the worst barriers. […] ( AL 140 )
2. Formation in Self-Giving
QUESTIONS: as parents:
1- Do we responsibly assume, as a challenging and exciting mission entrusted by God, the education of our children to help them grow as humans, emotionally, morally and spiritually?
31. The dynamic of family relations has a primary impact on the formation of younger generations. The speed of changes occurring in present-day society makes the work of accompanying a person’s emotional formation in sound growth and development more difficult. This process requires appropriate pastoral action which is abundantly equipped with a knowledge imbued with Scripture and Catholic doctrine and provided with suitable educational tools. A proper knowledge of the psychology of the family will serve as an assistance in ensuring that the Christian vision might be effectively transmitted. Such an effort might already begin with the catechesis of Christian Initiation. This formation is also meant to highlight the admirable character of the virtue of chastity, since the virtue of chastity is understood to mean the integration of emotions which fosters self-giving.
It should also take place inductively, so that children can learn for themselves the importance of certain values, principles and norms, rather than b y imposing these as absolute and unquestionable truths. […] ( AL 264 )
3. Weakness and Immaturity
As parents or concerned adults according to the "family" situation:
1- Do we assume the resposibility, as a mission entrusted by God, to help them mature humanly, emotionally, morally and spiritually in the fragility of its (the family’s) development and growth?
2- What aspects of contemporary culture today and the lifestyle of adolescents and young people hinder Christian education for love?
3- What could we do as adults to educate and help the younger generation to mature in their sexuality?
32. Many cultural tendencies exist in today's world whose goal is to impose a sexuality without any limits and where all emotional aspects are explored, even the more complex ones. The idea of emotional weakness is very timely; a narcissistic, unstable and changing affectivity does not help a person to achieve greater maturity. The following cultural tendencies need to be firmly denounced: the prevalence of pornography and the commercialization of the body which is promoted by a distorted use of the internet, forced prostitution and exploitation. […]
The Second Vatican Council spoke of the need for “a positive and pruden t sex education” to be imparted to children and adolescents “as they grow older”, wit h “due weight being given to advances in the psychological, pedogogical and didactic sciences […] ( AL 280)
4. Technologies in Human Procreation
1- Is parenthood a gift of God or a human right?
2- To what extent are the new technologies, that allow procreation and fertility beyond the natural limits, a right of parenthood or are they a gift from God?
3- Is being a parent, at any cost and without any limit, only because science permits it, for me today?
4- The position of Bishops is that "everything that is scientifically possible is not scientifically permitted." What is your opinion?
33. The technological revolution in the field of human procreation has introduced the ability to manipulate the reproductive act, making it independent of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. In this way, human life and parenthood have become a modular and separable reality, subject mainly to the wishes of individuals or couples, who are not necessarily heterosexual and properly married. This phenomenon has occurred recently as an absolute novelty on the stage of humanity and is increasingly becoming more common. This situation has profound implications in the dynamics of relationships, in the structuring of social life and in legal systems which intervene to attempt to regulate practices already in place and various situations. In this regard, the Church feels required to speak a word of truth and hope…[…]
The family is the setting in which a new life is not only born but also welcomed as a gift of God. […] (AL166)
5. A Pastoral Challenge
1- Without diminishing the Christian ideal of marriage and family, what gestures of mercy and pastoral closeness have we had as a Church and personally to the new realities of family?
2- What (gestures) should we be offering?
34. […]In formation for conjugal and family life, pastoral care is to take into account the diversity of real-life situations. If, on the one hand, we must promote pathways to ensure the formation of young people for marriage; on the other, we must
accompany those who live alone or, without forming a new family, who frequently remain connected to their family of origin. Even couples who cannot have children should be given special pastoral attention by the Church to help them discover God’s plan in their situation which is in service to the whole community. Everyone needs to be understood, bearing in mind that situations far from the life of the Church are not always desired; oftentimes, they are created, and, at times, simply endured. From the vantage point of faith, no one is excluded: all are loved by God and are important in the Church’s pastoral activity..
In a word, we are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us [ …] (AL 310).
[…] . Instead, it sets us in the con text of a pastoral discernment filled with merciful love, which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate (AL312).
INTEGRATION QUESTIONS ON THE TOPIC:
1- The family is the birthright of humanity, a sanctuary of life, a treasure -- which aspects have we experienced and witnessed that these are true statements about the family reality, both rich and simple at the same time?
2- Lists words -- such as for example: to integrate, to involve, to accept, to accompany etc. (Offer, hope, time, patience,) What other words would be helpful for some of the situations described above, considering that the Church seeks to find ways to become more inclusive?
3- How does our charism help (us) to learn and mature in the "pedagogy of love that is marriage and family?”
We finish our encounter praying together: THE PRAYER OF THE HOLY FAMILY.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Lebanon held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister our brother Youssef el Turk and as International Councillor oursister Marise el Chami. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Papua New Guinea held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister our brother Erwin Maritua and as International Councillor our sister Sabina Masiri. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Uruguay held their national elective Chapter on the 5th and 6th of November 2016. The elections were as follows: as National Minister and International Councillor our brother Fabrizio Martinez. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The Secular Franciscan Order belongs to the Franciscan Family and is "formed by the organic union of all the Catholic fraternities, whose members, moved by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves through profession to live the Gospel after the manner of St. Francis in their secular state following the Rule approved by the Church" (Const. 1,3).
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Franciscans International is a non-governmental organisation that voices concerns at the United Nations, with and on behalf of the most vulnerable, about justice, poverty and the planet.