On August 6, 2015, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Pope Francis issued his statement on the establishment of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.” The day assigned for annual observance is September 1st. Here is an excerpt from that letter in 2015:
“Sharing the concern of my beloved brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the future of creation, and at the suggestion of his representative….who took part in the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato Si on care for our common home, I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September, as has been the custom in the Orthodox Church for some time (since 1989). As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing….We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them (ibid., 217). For ‘living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience’” (ibid.).
In that statement, Pope Francis outlined four areas of concern in words that could be adapted as intercessions for the Universal Prayer at Sunday Mass as follows, or similarly:
- That each of us gathered here commit ourselves to being active stewards who care for God’s creation,
- In thanksgiving to God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care,
- For God’s help and guidance as we work for the protection of creation,
- For God’s pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.
On September 1, 2016, Pope Francis again encouraged prayer for creation and supported the now designated ecumenical Season of Creation:
“It is most encouraging that concern for the future of our planet is shared by the Churches and Christian communities, together with other religions. Indeed, in past decades, numerous efforts have been made by religious leaders and organizations to call public attention to the dangers of an irresponsible exploitation of our planet…. In response to a growing concern for the integrity of creation, the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007 proposed celebrating a “Time for Creation” during the five weeks between 1 September (the Orthodox commemoration of God’s creation) and 4 October (the commemoration of Francis of Assisi in the Catholic Church and some other Western traditions). This initiative, supported by the World Council of Churches, has since inspired many ecumenical activities in different parts of the world. It is also encouraging that throughout the world similar initiatives promoting environmental justice, concern for the poor and responsible social commitment have been bringing together people, especially young people, from diverse religious backgrounds. Christians or not, as people of faith and goodwill, we should be united in showing mercy to the earth as our common home and cherishing the world in which we live as a place for sharing and communion.”
As ministers working ever-faithfully to enrich our parish liturgies, we need to incorporate this World Day of Prayer for Creation (September 1) and the new Season of Creation (September 1-October 4) into our liturgical preparations and annual planning.
September 1, 2019 will fall on a Sunday. Let’s begin now to raise awareness in our parishes of this vital need for prayer and action. There are many resources available online, especially through the Catholic Climate Covenant, which was established in response to the pope’s encyclical Laudato Si. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also has information available on their website through their Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development’s Environmental Justice Program (EJP), which educates and motivates Catholics towards deeper reverence and respect for God's creation.
Here are links to bulletin inserts from the U.S. Bishops on the Season of Creation and Laudato Si:
Keep updated on environmental issues at the USCCB website link.
- Include an intercession for the care of creation in every Sunday’s Universal Prayer.
- Establish an annual “Season of Creation” parish prayer service.
- Encourage members of your parish community to take the St. Francis Pledge.
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