 Reflection

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<ul><li><p> An Advent Calendar Blessing L. Bonzena lives in Bitako village, which is served by St. Monica's clinic, a CAFOD partner in Yakoko, Nigeria. The Franciscan Sisters of the Divine Motherhood, who run the clinic, delivered her twins Peace and Patience. On 28 November, click bell 28 on the calendar to begin reflecting with us this Advent on Blessing's inspiring story.</p></li><li><p> Reflection Main pageWhen her labour pains started two months early, Blessing was ready. </p><p>She walked straight to the clinic and gave birth to healthy twins. </p><p>They put me on a drip and gave me an injection to speed up my delivery. Afterwards Sr Teclar explained that I could have died if my blood pressure had gone any higher. Stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42) Stand ready!</p></li><li><p>ReflectionIf Jesus returned to judge the world today, would I be ready? Matthew 25 says hed be very interested in how I have treated the poorest and the rejected. How would I answer his questions? How do I respond when Im visited by Jesus in the person whos unpopular or difficult to get on with? </p><p>PrayerWelcoming God, help me to prepare for your coming by treating others as if they were you. Amen.</p><p> Previous slide Main pageStand ready!Action!Look up Matthew 25 and read it. </p></li><li><p>Blessing named one of her twins, Peace. She was the second baby to be born and was smaller and lighter at birth. </p><p>Despite her name, Peace lives in a place where there has been conflict as a result of poverty and of tensions between Muslims and Christians. Reflection Main pageNation will not lift up sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. (Isaiah 2:4) Peace</p></li><li><p>ReflectionIsaiah looked forward to the coming Messiah and spoke of a time of peace, yet Jesus was born into a nation occupied by the Romans. Jesus taught and lived peace-making in a time of great tension. </p><p>Am I a peacemaker? Do I try to include everyone or do I just avoid those who have different ideas? </p><p>PrayerPrince of peace, you call us to be peacemakers. Help me to be peace in this divided world. Comfort all who suffer due to conflict around the world. Amen.</p><p> Previous slide Main pagePeaceAction! Find out how you can support peace in another African country, Sudan.</p></li><li><p>SimplicityAfter her twins were delivered, Blessing was very weak and concerned at the size of her children. </p><p>She says, I was on a drip. I was very worried about my babies They were so tiny I could hold them in the palm of my hand. I bless you, Father for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. (Luke 10:21)</p><p> Reflection Main page</p></li><li><p>ReflectionJesus says God reveals his wisdom to the little ones. I need to have a childs openness so that God can reveal things that are beyond my expectations. Like Blessings tiny twins, God will never forget us. We are engraved on the palm of his hand (Isa. 49:16). </p><p>PrayerCreator of all life, you came to earth as a tiny baby. Help me remember that it is in the little ones, and to the little ones, that you reveal yourself. Amen.</p><p> Previous slide Main pageSimplicityAction! If you can, spend some time playing with a little sister or brother or helping a relative with their baby.</p></li><li><p>World AIDS DayAt St Monicas clinic in Yakoko, people are given treatment for HIV and AIDS, such as anti-retroviral drugs. </p><p>These drugs slow down and reduce the amount of HIV, greatly improving peoples quality of life. He will wipe away the tears from everyones eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. (Isaiah 25:8) Reflection Main page</p></li><li><p>ReflectionToday is World AIDS Day. 33.4 million people live with HIV and AIDS worldwide. Thirty million of these live in low and middle-income countries. </p><p>In 2008, more than 1,000 children in the world were newly infected with HIV per day. </p><p>PrayerIn a moments silence, I pray for my sisters and brothers affected by HIV and AIDS Amen.</p><p> Previous slide Main pageWorld AIDS DayAction!Buy or make a red ribbon and wear it to remind people of those affected by HIV and AIDS</p></li><li><p>TrustWhen she was four months pregnant, Blessings husband turned her out of her home. </p><p>Blessing stayed with neighbours for two months before returning to her parents. </p><p>My father was not happy when I turned up unannounced. But he let me stay with him. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to rely on human beings. (Psalm 118:8) Reflection Main page</p></li><li><p>ReflectionBlessing took refuge with neighbours, then with her parents. </p><p>Where do I take refuge in my times of need? </p><p>PrayerThank you, God, for all the people I can rely upon when I feel troubled. Help me to trust that I can always rely on you. Amen.</p><p> Previous slide Main pageTrustAction! Say thank you today to someone who has helped you. </p></li><li><p>HopeBlessing hopes that her babies future will be bright. </p><p>I hope that I can put my children through school and that they can become children of God. </p><p>Be strong,let your heart be bold, put your hope in the Lord. (Psalm 27:14) Reflection Main page</p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionTodays psalm says I can be bold, because I hope in God. </p><p>Do I hope in God? What do I hope God will do? </p><p>Am I bold enough to do whatever God asks of me? </p><p>PrayerLord of all hopefulness, give hope to those who feel abandoned by the world. Help us to be hope to others. Amen.</p><p>HopeAction! Find and read a story of hope on CAFODs website. </p></li><li><p>GenerosityThe generosity of our supporters pays for St Monicas clinic where Patience and Peace were born. </p><p>Blessing says, Thank you for giving money to this clinic. We are so grateful for your help. My babies would have died without medical treatment. You received without charge, give without charge.(Matthew 10:8) Reflection Main page</p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionSt Ambrose said, It is not from your own possessions that you give alms to the poor, you are just restoring to them what is theirs by right.</p><p>Do I really think that what I have is mine and mine only? Is there anything I have that didnt involve someone along the way giving something up? Do I always expect a return for my generosity? </p><p>PrayerFather, you did not count the cost when you sent your Son for us. When I give, help me not to count the cost. Amen.</p><p>GenerosityAction!Be radical! Perform a random act of kindness today. </p></li><li><p>Preparation Reflection Main pageBlessing says,I gave birth to my babies at St Monicas health centre when I was just seven months pregnant. I had decided not to give birth at home in case there was an emergency, but had no idea I would go into labour so early. A voice cries in the wilderness: prepare a way for the Lord. (Matthew 3:3) </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionJohn the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Mary prepared for his birth. </p><p>How am I preparing to celebrate Jesus birth at Christmas? </p><p>PrayerGiver of all good things, help me to prepare to make this Christmas a time of giving, more than one of receiving. Amen.</p><p>PreparationAction!Buy a World Gift yourself or suggest that your class or a group of friends club together to buy one. </p></li><li><p> Reflection Main pageIn many parts of Blessings country, Nigeria, people struggle to get enough water. </p><p>In Mabudi village, in an area called Langtang South, our partners provide tanks to catch rainwater and filters to keep water clean.Let the wilderness and the dry lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom. (Isaiah 35:1)Water for life</p></li><li><p>Water for life Previous slide Main pageReflectionEvery year during the dry season we have the same problem. It is like waking up in the middle of a nightmare that doesnt end, says Simi Martin, 22, from Mabudi. </p><p>Due to poverty and climate change, 864 million people in our world have no access to safe drinking water. What am I doing to help? </p><p>PrayerLife-giving Spirit of God, may my actions help to make streams flow in dry lands. Give me determination to do all I can to combat climate change, for the sake of the poorest in our world. Amen.</p><p>Action! Walk or cycle somewhere instead of taking a bus or asking for a lift. </p></li><li><p>Protecting life Reflection Main pageBlessing says, Without this clinic I would not have survived childbirth Other women that have gone into early labour have not been so lucky. </p><p>In Nigeria, 94 in every 1,000 children die in the first year of life compared to four in the UK. </p><p>Sometimes this happens because people cant get medical care. It is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost. (Matthew 18:12) </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionTwo thousand years ago giving birth was dangerous. In many countries it still is. In the Millennium Development Goals, the UK, and the rest of the world, promised to improve the health of mothers and babies by 2015. These goals are not on track to be met. Like Elizabeth and Mary, all mothers should be able to wait in joyful hope (not fear) for the arrival of their babies. This Advent, how can I help the UK stay faithful to our Millennium promises?</p><p>PrayerMary our mother, be close to all who nurse mothers and babies in the developing world. Pray with us that world leaders will do everything needed to fulfil their promises. Amen.Protecting lifeAction!Find out about Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.</p></li><li><p>Thanksgiving Reflection Main pageBlessing says, I will never be able to tell Sr Teclar how grateful I am for her help. She has given me faith in people again. Bless the Lord, my soul, and remember all his kindnesses.(Psalm 103:2) </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionI have so much, but am I as thankful as Blessing? </p><p>PrayerThank you, Lord, for the many gifts youve given me and the many people who help me every day. Amen.ThanksgivingAction! Think of ten things to thank God for. Then thank God! </p></li><li><p>Solidarity Reflection Main pageBlessing says, My home is run down, we dont have a water hole and I have no business. I cant count on much in my life, but I can rely on the clinic. I, the Lord, will answer the poor and needy, I, the God of Israel, will not abandon them. (Isaiah 41:17)</p></li><li><p>ReflectionSt Teresa of Avila said, God has no hands on earth but ours. </p><p>If God cares for the poor, it is through my hands that God will express that care. </p><p>PrayerJesus, present in my heart, help me to be open-hearted, ready to notice other peoples problems and to respond. Amen. Previous slide Main pageSolidarityAction!Ask your parents to buy a World Gift as one of your Christmas presents. </p></li><li><p>Guidance Reflection Main pageBlessing says, I hope to get a business and look after myself. As you can see, my greatest wish is not to get free treatment. I need a business so that I can pay for my childrens health care.I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you; I lead you in the way that you must go. (Isaiah 48:17) </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionI resist being led. I like to choose my own way. But maybe I dont always know best. </p><p>Where is God leading me in my life choices? </p><p>Blessing wants to help her children. Will my choices help others? </p><p>PrayerGood Teacher, make me open to be led by you. Help me to make good choices so that, through my life, the world will be a better place. Amen.GuidanceAction!Take two minutes to think about what you will study, or what career to follow. Ask God to lead you. </p></li><li><p>Saying sorry Reflection Main pagePoverty is an injustice. It is real people like Blessing and her family who experience the every day reality of this injustice. We shall never turn from you again; our life renewed, we shall invoke your name. Psalm 80:18 </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionAdvent is a time to repent for the ways Ive hurt people. But who repents for the hurts experienced by those living in extreme poverty? I may not be conscious of it, but I am part of a world system that ensures the worlds resources are not fairly shared. I may not feel rich, but Im part of the richest 25 per cent of the world. </p><p>PrayerLord, Im sorry for not appreciating the luxuries I enjoy. Im sorry for not putting in more effort to win justice for those who dont have even the basic things that they need. Give me a heart that strives for justice. Amen.Saying sorryAction! Find out the date of your school or parish Advent service and put it in your diary. </p></li><li><p>Patience Reflection Main pageBlessing named the first-born of her twins, Patience. You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lords coming will be soon. James 5:8 </p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionIt feels like Christmas will never come! And its not helpful when someone says have a bit of patience! </p><p>How must Mary have felt as she waited nine months for Jesus birth? But Marys waiting bore fruit, as the child grew within her. Will my waiting this Advent bear fruit in faith and love? PrayerMary, some things are worth waiting for. Pray that I will patiently await good things to come, but never stop working to help good things become reality. Amen.PatienceAction!Be patient with someone today. </p></li><li><p> Reflection Main pageBlessing says, I farm on somebodys land to buy clothes for my children I leave here at 5am and get home at 1pm. It takes about 45 minutes to walk to the farm. We dont rest because we must work all day. If there is no money for food I take my babies to the farm with me and I breastfeed them. A hero arises from their stock, he reigns over countless people. (Numbers 24:7 )Heroism</p></li><li><p>Heroism Previous slide Main pageReflectionIn todays reading, the prophet Balaam points towards Jesus birth. Born in a borrowed room, in a poor town and an oppressed nation. Strange birth for a hero! But he changed the world. </p><p>Who are the real heroes in this world? Are they people like Blessing who works tirelessly for her childrens sake? PrayerJesus, unlike fictional superheroes, you really are a Saviour. Your life makes a real difference to people. Help me to be a hero like you. Amen.Action!Read one of the info sheets from our World hero resource.</p></li><li><p>God of the poor Reflection Main pageBlessing agrees that God is close to her in her need: I pray to God every day. I hope that he sees the condition that we live in and provides an answer to our poverty. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted; he helps those whose spirit is crushed. (Psalm 34:18 )</p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionThe Church teaches that first place should be given to the poor and vulnerable. This is called the option for the poor. </p><p>Do I give first place to the poor or less visible people around me? </p><p>PrayerFriend of the poor, help me to seek out the people who are ignored and to remember that you chose to spend your time with them. Amen.God of the poorAction!Spot the person who is feeling left out (in the playground, the lunch hall, the youth club) and invite them in. </p></li><li><p>Faith Reflection Main pageBlessing says, God is taking care of my family. Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else? (Luke 7: 18)</p></li><li><p> Previous slide Main pageReflectionTodays reading shows that even Jesus cousin, John the Baptist, had times of doubt. My faith is often weak. But Blessings faith, in the face of the difficult life she leads, can inspire me....</p></li></ul>