Season of Creation 2019
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation takes place from 1 September to 4 October (Feast of St. Francis of Assisi) and celebrates the joy of creation as well as encouraging awareness-raising initiatives to protect the natural environment.
Pope’s appeal to pray, reflect, and act to safeguard creation
Pope Francis invites the faithful to pray, reflect and act to protect an endangered environment in a message released to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
“Now is the time to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters, and stewards of creation.”
Taking inspiration from the Book of Genesis, Pope Francis describes God’s gaze as “resting lovingly on his creation”.
But he goes on to say that, “tragically, the human response to this gift has been marked by sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit.”
“Egoism and self-interest”, he says, “have turned creation, a place of encounter and sharing, into an arena of competition and conflict. In this way, the environment itself is endangered”.
Increased environmental deterioration in our world
In his message the Pontiff highlights how the world has experienced increased deterioration in recent decades.
He points to constant pollution, the continued use of fossil fuels, intensive agricultural exploitation and deforestation, which he says, “are causing global temperatures to rise above safe levels.”
The Pope also notes the increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather phenomena and the desertification of the soil, which, he adds, “are causing immense hardship for the most vulnerable among us.” Pope Francis continues by saying that “melting of glaciers, scarcity of water, neglect of water basins and the considerable presence of plastic and microplastics in the oceans are equally troubling, and testify to the urgent need for interventions that can no longer be postponed.”
In effect, the Pope writes “we have forgotten who we are: creatures made in the image of God.
Prayer, Reflection, Action
Pope Francis underlines that “this is the season for letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature, which spontaneously leads us to give thanks to God the Creator.” Our prayers and appeals, he says, “are directed first at raising the awareness of political and civil leaders”, especially those governments “that will meet in the coming months to renew commitments decisive for directing the planet towards life, not death.”
During this month, the Pope says that it is “a season to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful.”
Now is the time, he adds, “to abandon our dependence on fossil fuels and move, quickly and decisively, towards forms of clean energy and a sustainable and circular economy. Pope Francis also invites people to learn from “indigenous peoples, whose age-old wisdom can teach us how to live in a better relationship with the environment.”
In the message the Pope urges the faithful undertake prophetic actions. “Many young people all over the world are making their voices heard and calling for courageous decisions”, he comments.
Pope Francis stresses that, “we owe them real answers, not empty words, actions not illusions.”
Pope Francis’ wonderful teaching, Laudato si: on the Care of our Common Home, ends with two prayers he composed: A Prayer for Our Earth, and A Christian Prayer in Union with all Creation.
They powerfully express the Christian-Franciscan vision of our place before God as one with all He has created. These prayers are filled with a spirit of praise and joyful gratitude, and also a humble awareness of failure and our need for grace to live out our divinely-given vocation on this earth.
One would hope these prayers become well known among the Lord’s disciples and help form our self-understanding as creatures, children and servants of the Most High God.
For the ancient principle still holds true: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi – as we worship, so we believe, so we live.
A Prayer for our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universeand in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love,that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creatureas we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,through you all things were made. You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, you became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes. Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory. Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulnessfor every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and moneythat they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen.
For more resources prepared by the Laudato Si’ Working Group of the Bishops’ Council for Catechetics for this special event see: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/2019/07/17/season-of-creation-2019/