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February, 2015 – Migration, Refugees and the Displacement of Peoples


1) Introduction:

Untitled-2As people connected in some way to the event of La Salette and our Weeping Mother, we know well from her example at La Salette that we are called as reconcilers to respond compassionately to the needy as she did with the two children, Maximin and Melanie. The following are prayerful reflections titled, La Salette 2015 – Justice, Peace, Reconciliation: Let Us Respond to the Cry of the Poor.

They are offered in seven languages so that all La Salette Missionaries, and those laity connected with us, can celebrate the wisdom and challenge of our Catholic Social Teaching during this year. These materials can be used – as a whole or in part – for personal prayer or in our ministries or communities to begin meetings, prayer groups, or in gatherings for religious education.


2) Faith Sharing:

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-14 (the flight into Egypt)

When Mary and Joseph had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”


Reading: Message of Pope Francis for 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees (Sept. 24, 2013)


From the Christian standpoint, the reality of migration, like other human realities, points to the tension between the beauty of creation, marked by Grace and the Redemption, and the mystery of sin. Solidarity, acceptance, and signs of fraternity and understanding exist side by side with rejection, discrimination, trafficking and exploitation, suffering and death…

Untitled-3The Venerable Paul VI described the aspirations of people today in this way: “to secure a sure food supply, cures for diseases and steady employment… to exercise greater personal responsibility; to do more, to learn more, and have more, in order to be more” (Populorum Progressio, 6)…

Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history. As the Church accompanies migrants and refugees on their journey, she seeks to understand the causes of migration, but she also works to overcome its negative effects, and to maximize its positive influence on the communities of origin, transit and destination…

Finally, in considering the situation of migrants and refugees, I would point to yet another element in building a better world, namely, the elimination of prejudices and presuppositions in the approach to migration… I think of how even the Holy Family of Nazareth experienced initial rejection: Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew what it meant to leave their own country and become migrants: threatened by Herod’s lust for power, they were forced to take flight and seek refuge in Egypt (cf. Matt 2:13-14). But the maternal heart of Mary and the compassionate heart of Joseph, the Protector of the Holy Family, never doubted that God would always be with them. Through their intercession, may that same firm certainty dwell in the heart of every migrant and refugee.


Quiet Reflection


Reflection Questions:

• Have you or someone you know experienced the situation of having to move or migrate from one place to another? What was one of the challenging parts of that experience?

• “Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history.” Does this statement seem to be verified by your own experience?

• Do you have any other comments?


3) Concluding Prayer:


General Intercessions for all Refugees and Displaced People

Leader: For all people who are homeless,
that they may find shelter and nourishment today,
and soon find secure and safe housing, we pray:
All: Save your people, O Lord.

Untitled-4Leader: For all people who are unemployed,
that they may find consolation and support in their time of need,
and stable and dignified work, we pray:
All: Save your people, O Lord.

Leader: For all children living in poverty,
that they may never again have to go to bed hungry,
and that these children will live in communities
that provide nutritious food for all, we pray:
All: Save your people, O Lord.

Leader: For all people living in poverty, that their daily struggle
to secure the basic necessities of life
for themselves and their families
will be met by a loving community that believes
that all people should have a dignified life, we pray:
All: Save your people, O Lord.

(Other intentions shared freely)

Leader: Let us pray together the Lord’s Prayer:
All: Our Father….

Leader: Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners,
All: Pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you.


4) Learning More… (optional) 

More About Catholic Social Teaching


a) Does Catholic Social Teaching propose a particular model for organizing social life?


Pope Saint John Paul II answers this question by saying:


“The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political and cultural aspects. For such a task the Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation, a teaching which... recognizes the positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to be oriented towards the common good. (Centesimus Annus, #43)”


b) How can we proceed prudently to respond to the needs and crises of others, in response to Catholic Social Teaching?


Untitled-5One successful approach in social ministry is the “See – Judge – Act” methodology (commonly known as the “Pastoral Cycle”). It comes from Joseph Cardijn, (1882-1967), a Belgian priest and cardinal and the founder of the Young Christian Workers in the 1920s. His methodology, now used by social action and church groups around the world, was formally endorsed by Pope Saint John XXIII in his 1961 Encyclical Letter, Mater et Magistra (#236-237).


It is a simple method which helps people in ministry to stop, stand back from a situation and reflect on it before they commit to a course of action. This process helps them to develop critical judgment about situations, events and structures. Often the three stages overlap and intermingle.


It includes:


a) See: examine the concrete situation; that is, see, hear and be sensitized by the lived reality of individuals and communities:

• What is happening?
• Who are the people involved?
• Who gains from this situation? Who loses?
• What is the situation doing to people?
• Why is it happening? Why does it continue?


b) Judge: analyze the situation and make an informed judgment about it:

• How do you feel about this situation?
• Have you ever behaved or acted like anyone in the situation? If so, what happened? Why? How did you or those involved feel?
• What do you think should be happening?
• What does your faith or Catholic Social Teaching say about it?


c) Act: plan and carry out actions aimed at transforming the social structures that contribute to suffering and injustice:

• What can you do to bridge the gap between what is happening (the reality) and what should be happening (the ideal or what your faith says)?
• What action are you going to take?
• Who can you involve in your action?


Reflection Questions:

• Can you think of any events in the life of Jesus that show his concern for the poor and needy?
• Which of the following themes of Catholic Social Teaching do you consider most important and why?


a) The Dignity of Every Person and Human Rights 

b) Solidarity, Common Good, and Participation 

c) Family Life

d) Subsidiarity and the Proper Role of Government

e) Property Ownership in Modern Society: Rights and Responsibilities

f) The Dignity of Work, Rights of Workers, and Support for Labor Unions 

g) Colonialism and Economic Development 

h) Peace and Disarmament

i) Option for the Poor and Vulnerable



Other comments?

Sources for:
3: General Intercessions from: Prayer Service for All People Living in Poverty: Poverty Awareness Week, Office of Justice and Peace, Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Nov. 2011.
4b (See–Judge–Act methodology):

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN):
Vincentian Community


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