By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
Let’s commit to observe the Season of Creation, an annual ecumenical celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. It runs from Tuesday, September 1 until October 4, the Feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
On September 1 we would all have participated in the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which Pope Francis has established.
This year is the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, which remains a wake-up call to humankind about the way in which our actions are destroying not only the environment, but people around the world.
See the 227-page book entitled: Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: Five Years after Laudato Si’. The document was drafted by the Holy See Inter-dicastery Table on Integral Ecology, created in 2015 to evaluate ways to best promote and implement integral ecology.
Institutions linked to the Holy See, along with several Bishops’ Conferences, and Catholic organisations, make up the committee (Vatican News).
Archbishop Gallagher said the text seeks “to relaunch the rich contents” of an encyclical still relevant today and even more so in the light of a world hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also aims to provide a guide to reading Laudato Si’ and for its practical implementation. The book reaffirms the centrality of life and the human person, because “nature cannot be defended without the defence of every human life”.
Gerard O’Connell says: “The book contains an introduction and two chapters. Chapter I focuses on ‘Education and Ecology’ and emphasizes the need for ‘integral ecology and spiritual conversion,’ which can be developed not only in the family but also through the various levels of education from early childhood to university as well as through catechesis. It indicates the importance of dialogue, collaboration and cooperation in the care of our common home with the other Christian churches and communities as well as with the followers of other religions.
Chapter II is devoted to ‘integral ecology and integral human development’ and reiterates the encyclical’s emphasis that ‘everything is connected’. It touches many of the hot-button and crucial issues of our day: nutrition; water; energy; eco-systems; deforestation; desertification; use of the soil, the seas and oceans; finance; work; justice and public administration; health and climate change.
Each theme is enriched with a list of relevant texts from Francis and his predecessors on the social teaching of the church. It also contains a section that highlights some ‘good practices’ and a series of concrete proposals for the further implementation of the encyclical in the church and the world. The text emphasizes that ‘everyone’ has a role in the care of our common home, from the individual citizen and the religious community to the state government and the international community.
Along with other citizens, we Catholics must play our part in building a civilization of love—reconciling with God, neighbour, creation, and self. Reconciliation with Creation requires us to accept our role as stewards of God’s Creation. In Genesis we read that we have a duty to cultivate and care for the earth. We cannot be indifferent to environmental degradation.”
During this Season of Creation, remember that Pope Francis asks us to ‘reaffirm our personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork entrusted to our care, and to implore God’s help for the protection of creation, as well as pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live’.”
The Season of Creation website (seasonofcreation.org) states, the key messages from Pope Francis include the following: “We are called to protect creation—and we are missing the mark. ‘Something good in the eyes of God has become something exploitable in human hands.’
The Season of Creation is a time for prayer in nature. ‘This is the time to reacquaint ourselves with praying immersed in nature, where our gratitude to the creator God arises spontaneously.’
The Season of Creation is a time to grow in sustainability. ‘This is the time to reflect on our lifestyles . . . Let’s change and adopt simpler and more respectful lifestyles!’
The Season of Creation is a time to urge governments to enact better climate policies. ‘This is the time to take prophetic actions’ and governments have the task of ‘demonstrating political will to drastically hasten their measures to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible . . . in line with the Paris Agreement goals.’”
Let’s play our part to develop right relationship with God’s Creation.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee