International Day of Families on May 15 was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution in 1993 and reflects theimportance the international community attaches to families.
The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.
Our colleagues at the Justice and Peace Commission of religious men and women have put together a prayer in 18 languages for everyone to use.
This is a reflective prayer accompanied by symbolic action. Take it slowly using background music. If possible create a space for a spiral. Mark off 9 positions for candles to be lit as the reflection proceeds.
Begin with a time of silent reflection on the word ‘FAMILY’. Light a first candle and place it in the middle of the spiral centring all in God.
God as FAMILY, Relationship, Life-Giver, Eternal Love (pause)
Prayer: God of Life and Love, from all eternity your Word has been spoken. You in whom we live and move and have our being, open us to your voice deep within each of us, your voice in and beyond the greatest wonders of creation; open us to the mystery of being family with and in you.
Candle 2. Think about:
The universe family, gift of God’s creating love – the billions of galaxies, planets, stars; their amazing formation over billions of years; the gifts of light and darkness, life and death that hold the universe in being. (pause)
Prayer: For the wonders of the universe, the explosions, the chaos, the movement, the perfect balance; for “the work of your hands”, we praise you O God.
Candle 3. Think about
The family that is our galaxy with its billions of stars, its brilliant planets and our sun, our moon, our home Mother Earth. (pause)
Prayer: We thank you Loving God for Earth’s place in the vast universe and for the web of relationship that maintains life on Earth. Open us to the mystery of all being.
Candle 4. Think about:
The Earth family which has gone through so many stages of growth and challenge – tiny organisms in the oceans opening up new possibilities; millions of species of plants and animals and after a long and loving process, us humans. (pause)
Prayer: Let all that lives and breathes give praise. What marvels you have done, O God of Life! May our respect for one another lead us to rejoice in our differences and celebrate our interconnectedness, our oneness.
Candle 5. Think about:
The human family gifted with consciousness, with the ability to choose, to wonder, to celebrate life with all beings. From this family our saviour Jesus, your son, came, belonging to a small family within a struggling people, showing us how to live differently as one human family, listening to the family of nature and the heart of God. (pause)
Prayer: God of mercy and compassion, our human consciousness is your gift. Many of the choices we have made have not appreciated the wonder of the sacredness and fragility of the life we share with all beings. Open us to your way of life and love for which Jesus lived and lives through the Spirit in us and among us.
Candle 6. Think about:
The family of all Christians scattered throughout the world as church, called to live in the light of Christ, celebrating God’s unconditional, all inclusive love by living as kin with respect and love for all. (pause)
Prayer: Our Christian living over the past 20 centuries has often caused pain and suffering in our world. Lead us self-giving God, so perfectly manifest in Jesus, to see more clearly the depths of his message and to live more radically a love that heals and frees. Let us live at one with believers and non-believers alike, with our lives as well as our words as gift for our hurting world.
Candle 7. Think about:
Your own family, your ancestors, all your living blood-relatives, all the different paths different members have taken; connections maintained or lost; family widening out and the formation of new families and communities. (pause)
Prayer: God of love, we celebrate with thanks and acceptance all the loving and giving, all the suffering and change, the dying and new life that is part of family systems. We hold in tender care those forced apart by war and poverty, those separated, wounded by misunderstanding and lack of forgiveness.
Candle 8. Think about:
Parents and children and the challenges that are a reality in family life today, the love that enables constant self-giving and sacrifice so that a new generation might have life and have it justly, freely, safely. (pause)
Prayer: Our Father-Mother God, our future as your family is held in your creating love. It also depends on the way we live love in the simplest of ways as well as in the big choices that affect our lives as members of the human and the earth family. Open us to your wisdom and light and may we learn from your life of unconditional self-giving love to BE FAMILY.
Spontaneous prayer of gratitude and intercession or sharing on the reflection above.
Conclusion: a reflective version (as below or other) of the family prayer Jesus taught: Our Father, Our Mother, may your name, your presence in all beings, be held holy, Your kin-dom come. May we live in a way that is mutually sustainable for all, aware of and caring for one another within the human and the earth family.
Forgive us for the selfish choices we have made and help us to forgive ourselves and those whose self-centred choices have affected the way life is for so many within our home, Mother Earth. Attune us O God to your life and love and make us strong in being family. Amen
For copies of the prayer in 18 languages go here