February message from Margaret Ann Jacobs, National President
February is typically the month when the winter blahs set in. Those lofty goals and resolutions we made for the New Year may have lost their luster. Knowing that this is a feeling that many people experience should inspire us to revisit ways to boost our morale, build our confidence and improve our productivity.
Did you know that if you google national days in February that there is a day dedicated to almost everything (check Canadian sites as well). So you can have a chuckle as you plan special menus and activities for your family this month.
But don’t forget those days with special religious significance. Parents and grandparents can find ways to inform, educate and enthuse family values by paying special attention to these.
On February 2 we celebrate the feast of The Presentation of the Lord which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus. This is when Mary and Joseph presented the Christ child in the temple and Simeon and Anna acknowledged the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. It is also known as Candlemas Day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today’s liturgy. Maybe you could ask your parish priest to bless the candles that you will be using on your home altar this year or have a family procession.
Encourage and participate in the blessing of throats that takes place on February 3, the feast day of St. Blaise. He was a physician, a bishop and a martyr. Often depicted with crossed candles which are used in the blessing of throats, St. Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses.
But the most special day in February for me is February 11. I belong to Our Lady of Lourdes Church and taught at Our Lady of Lourdes School and so celebration of this day is very significant. Keeping alive the story of Bernadette Soubirous and the apparitions of Our Lady at the grotto in Massabielle is extremely important. It is a story with which all people but particularly children can identify.
Originally I was a little disappointed when the World Day of the Sick was celebrated this same day. But … I encourage each of you to access Pope Francis’ message for 2017 World Day of the Sick. Now this celebration makes so much more sense.
“Instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992 and first celebrated at Lourdes on 11 February 1993, this day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and more generally of all those who suffer… give thanks for God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters … serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalized.” (Text of Pope Francis’ message for 2017 World Day of the Sick)
The Pope speaks about being spiritually present at the grotto in Massabielle and encourages all of us to see in Mary the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will and the strength needed to love God even in the experience of illness.
Bernadette, through prayer was able to turn her frailty into support for others. We are encouraged likewise to ask our Mother Mary for this same grace to relate to the sick as persons in need of assistance.
So encourage a special parish celebration on this day and integrate into your family, activities of prayer, visitation and/or remembrance for those who suffer, those who heal and those who simply offer support for others.
To lift your own February blahs, it is helpful to think of others. So send a thinking of you card or perform a random act of kindness. During this heart month find ways to integrate the sacred with the secular. Make special plans for Family Day (February 20) and find ways to celebrate “The Joy of Love” experienced by families.
“… All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this constant impulse … May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.” (325, Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love)
“Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call”