Easter Sunday

Somalia

The image show members of the education committee, the Head teacher and pupils of the primary school in Belet Amin, in the Gedo region of Somalia. The school is funded by Trócaire and is helping over 170 children to build a brighter future.

Belet Amin camp is just one of many camps in the Gedo region of Somalia where people forced from their homes have fled to seek refuge from armed conflict. There are a total of 11 primary schools in the region assisted by Trócaire. The agency also works with local partners in the Gedo region to provide food, access to clean water and medical supplies within the camps.

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Palm Sunday

Reflection

The reading of the Passion sometimes reduces us to the passive role of spectators. This may mirror how we are in life, when we maintain observer status at the risk of getting involved. Those people we have seen in our photographs are real and they need us to move from being voyeurs in some reality show to become people of action for justice. We are watching the passion again in their lives as we see Christ suffering in them and we are called to help them carry their cross in life.
The significance of wearing a cross and chain or a lapel cross is not always appreciated in a spiritual context. A formal blessing before the end of Mass could be preceded briefly by some words that point beyond the merely cosmetic wearing of a cross:

Blessing

May the Cross of Christ protect your from danger and harm
May the Cross of Christ guide you on the path of selfless love
May the Cross of Christ give you the power to always speak the truth.

IDP Camp Somalia

The humanitarian mission of Trócaire is to contribute to the saving of lives, the alleviation of suffering, and the protection of human dignity. Trócaire actively speaks out on behalf of the vulnerable individuals and communities we seek to assist, bearing witness to the injustice and suffering.
Reflecting on the phases of displacement (flight, displacement short or long term and return or secondary displacement), Trócaire works at community, national and international level. Trócaire focuses on conflict prevention and protection against displacement, humanitarian assistance and the search for solutions, development and rebuilding of conflict –affected countries.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent B

Reflection

The image of the seed in the Gospel reminds us of the process of death that comes before new birth. Sometimes our contribution to the work for justice seems so small in comparison to the changes that need to take place in the world of disadvantage.

The important step is taken when we begin to die to our selfishness and look beyond our needs to those of others. In this way we plant seeds of hope for a better future.
A thought attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, who gave his life in the service of justice and his people in El Salvador, places our contributions in perspective:

‘We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete…
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water the seeds already planted,
Knowing that they hold future promise.’

The Lenten prayer space could have plants at different stages of development to reflect the reality of the work of development. The spirit of the Eucharist could be extended by offering some hospitality using tea/coffee and other products from fairly trading companies.
Baskets of seeds could be also passed through the Church inviting people to take one and plant it as a sign of commitment to the work of development with the following prayer printed as a card:

As this seed dies in the ground to allow its fruit to blossom and grow, may the energy we spend on our own needs be channelled to help others. Let new life be born in us and may we emerge this Easter sprouting leaves of justice, truth, forgiveness and peace.


 

Abaniya Awet (16 years old)

Abaniya’s family fled to Barrarut in 1998. They did so because they were very scared of the Militia who used to raid the villages, burn homes, kill and abduct the children. Life in Barrarut was very difficult at first. Initially, they were put up with relatives. Now that they have returned to their home Majaga (Abaniya’s mother) is much happier as she can feel more selfrelianthere. To support herself and her children she grows a little of her own food and works for other farmers. Her husband is living in Barrarut. He has two other wives.
It is very common in the post-war situation in South Sudan for women to be the head of a household. Abaniya gets up at 6am every day and sweeps and fetches water. She then washes, takes some tea and comes to school which is very close by.
Her favourite subjects are Maths and English. She would like to be a nurse when she finishes school.

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Fourth Sunday of Lent B

Reflection

Light and darkness are the strong visual images that stand out from the readings. Exile is also a very powerful image in the Word of God. This links with the Trócaire programme to draw our attention to the needs of displaced people. If there is someone in your community who has the experience of displacement they could be invited to give a testimony.

 

Who are they?

This photograph above shows the Mohammed family from Somalia. Sacid (8), Farhan (10) their father Arab, Dollar (7)and Faysal (9). Their mother Qaali is carrying Ayan (6).

Why were they displaced?

Arab and Qaali used to live in Baidoa city. They had a good life there, lived on a farm with 5 cattle and Arab had a job repairing watches and radios. Then in 1991, the government of the country collapsed. Since then there has been no central functioning government to make decisions about running the country. Fighting between rival clans since 1991 has forced ten per cent of the population, over 1 million people, to leave their homes. Arab and his wife had to leave their home when the fighting started. They had to escape to a refugee camp in Kenya in 1992 when fighting broke out in Belet Amin and lived there for four years.

Where do they live now?

They live in Belet Amin, a settlement for displaced people in Somalia beside the border with Kenya. Life is very hard for the family. They get some food aid but not enough to feed the whole family. They try to make some more money by washing clothes, gathering firewood or begging. They have to walk 3km to the nearest source of water. They feel they will never be able to return to their home because it is more dangerous than ever. Arab said “God knows the future; we don’t know what will happen. I’m staying here; I don’t have any intention to move from here, where security is good.”

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Third Sunday of Lent B

Jesus got really angry with those who were taking advantage of others in the temple area. The injustice in the world today should make us so angry that we get actively involved in highlighting particular causes and looking for solutions to them. Many ask the question ‘where is God in all this?’ During the week this might be a question that can be circulated to all groups in the parish for some discussion so that ideally the whole community is ‘buzzing’ with the topic.

You may seek an opportunity to sign a petition to be sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission or the United Nations Organisation to encourage those in authority to lobby more on behalf of the displaced people throughout the world but particularly in Somalia and South Sudan. You might also make a small donation to Trócaire or to an aid agency at the same time.

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Second Sunday of Lent B

Wilfrid Owen an English Poet, was killed in action at the end of the First World War in 1918. Benjamin Britten set to music some of Owen’s incisive anti-war texts alongside the Latin texts of the Requiem Mass in his challenging War Requiem. One of the poetic extracts is a re-telling of the Abraham/Isaac story, the first reading today:

…An angel called out of heaven, Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, Neither do anything to him. Behold, A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns; Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him. But the old man would not so, but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one. As a Church, as a society and as a family, we ask forgiveness for failing to act in time and in an effective manner to prevent or acknowledge the abuse of children. By our failure to sacrifice the ‘Ram of Pride’, more children suffered abuse and further pain was inflicted on some when they came to tell their story. The effects of this will continue to influence the lives of those caught up in the ripples of this social sin as they find themselves in a prison of memory that they wish to escape. We can also interpret this piece in the light of our failure to act with energy on behalf of the displaced people of Somalia and South Sudan where abuse of women and young girls is prevalent. The extract from the Owen poem and the scripture reading from Genesis 22 might be set side by side with the Trócaire picture of Khalid (above) behind the barbed wire so that the real challenge of making sacrifices might become evident to us.

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First Sunday of Lent B

In God’s Word today, the rich image of the rainbow is a symbol of hope and trust in the loving God who is faithful and constant.

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Who is feeling the pinch most?

  The present world economic turmoil is like that biblical mourning veil in Isaiah covering all peoples since there is such an air of gloom about.

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