Friday, May 7, 2010

First Friday of May - Pope Benedict's Intentions - Ottawa's TULIP Festival

NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION TULIP FESTIVAL begins; blooms ahead of schedule With the warm weather some weeks back, the tulips are early this year.

Some of my relatives will be in Ottawa to view them this weekend. A photo taken earlier this week:

Tulips on the Gatineau shore of the Ottawa River

* * * * * *

Today is the First Friday of the Month, a day traditionally devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a good occasion to mention the Holy Father's General Prayer Intention for May (text from, website of the Apostleship of Prayer [USA]):

General Intention

Human Trafficking. That the shameful and monstrous trafficking in human beings, which sadly involves millions of women and children, may stop.

The world's poor are easy prey for those who wish to profit from the slave market. Many in rich countries like our own purchase women and children to exploit. Slaves are raped, tortured, put to hard labor, and even forced to have babies who are also sold as slaves. The Pope asks us to hear the cries of the millions and pray for the end of this shameful and monstrous trafficking in human beings.

The problem is especially difficult because those who are enslaved sometimes cannot or do not understand that they are victims. Desperate because of poverty, war, or disaster, they seek to escape the hardship and danger of their circumstances. They are fooled by promises of adoption, marriage, and employment. Once sold, they are typically isolated, afraid, ashamed, unable to speak the language of their captors, and ignorant of laws and social services that would rescue them and allow them to live in freedom.

As many as 17,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. The U.S. State Department reports that they are exploited for prostitution, pornography, domestic servitude, sweatshop labor, and migrant agricultural work.

In her book, The Sacred Bath: An American Teen's Story of Modern Day Slavery, Theresa Flores tells how at 15 she was drugged, raped, and tortured for two years in an upper-class suburb in Detroit. After 20 years of silence, she began telling her story to help others. Now a licensed social worker, she works at Gracehaven, a safe home in Dublin, Ohio, for girls under 18 who have been sexually exploited.

How can we help end human trafficking? Let's pray, offering ourselves to God each day this month on behalf of the victims. Praying for the Pope's intention helps us be aware of the enormity of the problem of human trafficking - awareness we can share with those around us.

Reflection: How can you make others compassionately aware of human trafficking?

Reading, Luke 4:16-19: Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went...into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found a passage where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives..."


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