A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Reflecting on February

Fr Kevin Head sm

February is the month in which we begin to realise that the new year has begun in earnest. Everyone is back at work or school, and most people’s annual holiday is fading into the mists of memory. During February, there is a great deal happening in our Church, and in Aotearoa New Zealand.

6 February -- Waitangi Day

Last year on Waitangi Day, at Orakei Marae in Auckland, in two fine speeches1  that the media largely ignored, the Rt Hon Bill English said that “we are all engaged in a great enterprise of building a country based on fairness, tolerance and respect.” He went on to say, “we’ve all got better at it because of our struggles over the Treaty.” May 2018 see us getting even better at respecting one another’s cultures in our multi-cultural society, and at looking after one another.

8 February -- World Day of Prayer ... Against Human Trafficking

It was estimated that 40.3 million  people, 2  ten million of them children, were victims of slavery in 2016. Figures released in September last year by the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation, show 24.9 million people across the world were trapped in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.

Those in forced labour were working in the farming, fishing, construction and sex industries, and, according to the United Nations, only 63,000 victims of slavery were reported to the authorities last year. Most forced labourers are exploited through debt bondage and non-payment of wages. It seems that modern slavery is most prevalent in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific. The 40.3 million figure is a conservative estimate of the reality of slavery, as there is a lack of data from the Americas and from the Arab states. The article on page 16 of this issue gives information about trafficking and slavery, and tells of efforts to alleviate the sufferings of those trafficked and enslaved.

11 February -- Our Lady of Lourdes: Day of Prayer for the Sick

In his message 3  for this day, Pope Francis wrote, “We wish to entrust all those who are ill in body and soul to Mary, Mother of tender love, that she may sustain them in hope. We ask her also to help us to be welcoming to our sick brothers and sisters. ... May our prayers to the Mother of God see us united in an incessant plea that every member of the Church may live with love the vocation to serve life and health.” On this day, we pray for those who are sick. Might we not visit them too?

14 February -- it’s Lent -- repent

The door to meet Jesus is to recognise ourselves as we are, the truth. Sinners.4

It is mostly sin, failure, humiliation, and various kinds of addiction that take us to the point where we can begin to let God begin to change us. We have to get to the point of saying ‘my way isn’t working. Maybe I really do need to change.’ And then we can begin our true spiritual journey. 5

Once again, Lent gives us a chance to consider the ways in which we might help the needy, by visiting the sick, for example, and to reflect on and repent of our sinfulness.

Once more, we ask God to give us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

1  thespinoff.co.nz 9 Feb 2017

2 The Guardian Australia 19 Sept 2017

Vatican, 26 November 2017

4 Pope Francis, 21 September 2017

Richard Rohr, The Power of Powerlessness,
16 Nov 2015



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