August 30, 2019

Christ the Cornerstone

The Season of Creation is call to prayer and action

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

(This week, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson’s column highlights the Church’s upcoming Season of Creation. His reflections on Bishop Robert E. Barron’s new book, Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Scandal, will continue next week.)

The Season of Creation invites all Christians to gather in prayer and action to protect creation. It is a monthlong celebration that begins on Sept. 1 with a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and ends on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

In his letter of Sept. 1, 2015, establishing the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis states:

“The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvelous works that he has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

Since the release of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” the Church has placed greater emphasis on joining with Christians and people of good will to respond with urgency to the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

This year’s Season of Creation theme, “The Web of Life,” emphasizes the role humanity has as healers and stewards of creation, as well as the need to protect the biodiversity of all living species. God’s glory is revealed in all of creation.

As we celebrate this season, let us place greater emphasis on “rediscovering” God in all of creation.

In the Midwest, we have amazing landscapes—grass-covered plains, rolling hills, forests, rivers and lakes—all waiting to be discovered by us! With each encounter, we deepen our sense of wonder and experience a new awareness of our Creator as well as our own unique place in creation.

Experiencing God through creation helps us to more fully appreciate the fact that all living things are interconnected. The famous Scottish-American naturalist, John Muir, once expressed this reality as follows: “The sun shines not on us, but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us.”

The intimate link that we experience with creation binds us with each other and with God such that, when something happens to one it affects everyone and everything, both nearby and far away—for good and for bad.

When we experience deep communion with creation, we begin to see each person and each thing as a gift. With this new awareness, a sense of appreciation and gratitude grows within us for the Creator and each created thing. Reverence and respect increase our desire to preserve and protect it for future generations.

Protective actions motivated by our faith can take many forms, depending on our own personal circumstances. However, nothing speaks louder than doing something positive to make the world a better place.

An examination of conscience can show us what can be improved in our lives to reduce negative impacts and increase positive ones—from purchasing decisions and lifestyle changes to wiser use of energy and waste reduction. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton reminds us, “Live simply, so that others may simply live.”

As an outward sign of unity and action, perhaps parishioners can join on the feast of St. Francis to plant trees at parishes and individual homes.

I also encourage all to use the “Prayer to Care for Our Common Home” from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops based on “Laudato Si’ ”:

Father of all,
Creator and ruler of the universe,
You entrusted your world to us as a gift.
Help us to care for it and all people,
that we may live in right relationship—
   with You,
   with ourselves,
   with one another,
   and with creation.
Christ our Lord,
both divine and human,
you lived among us and died for our sins.
Help us to imitate your love for the human family
by recognizing that we are all connected—
   to our brothers and sisters around the world,
   to those in poverty impacted by environmental devastation,
   and to future generations.
Holy Spirit,
giver of wisdom and love,
you breathe life in us and guide us.
Help us to live according to your vision,
stirring to action the hearts of all—
   individuals and families,
   communities of faith,
   and civil and political leaders.
Triune God, help us to hear the cry of those in poverty, and the cry of the Earth, so that we may together care for our common home. Amen.

May this Season of Creation be one of fervent prayer, surprising “rediscovery” and united action that leads to a renewed love, care and protection of our planet. †

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