The liturgical assembly as “instruments of God for the care of creation”
Joan Patano Vos Oct. 3, 2018
In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminded us of our role as instruments of God for the care of creation. In section V: A Universal Communion, Francis stated: “The created things of this world are not free of ownership: ‘For they are yours, O Lord, who love the living’ (Wisdom 11:26). This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.”
We belong to God. The earth belongs to God. All of creation belongs to God. Every Sunday Mass is a recognition of that reality. We stand in humility before the God of all creation and, through Christ, give ourselves back to God, to serve as instruments of the deep and holy love that brought all of creation into being.
“It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. … The Lord…chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. … Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed, the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love. … The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates creation. … Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.” (Laudato Si, No. 236).
We must take note of these words of Francis that the Eucharist itself, directs us to be stewards of all creation. Understanding that this “fragment of matter” contains the very holiness of God, we can also understand that all of creation contains the very holiness of God. “He comes that we might find him in this world of ours.” As a Eucharistic people, therefore, we are instruments of God, responsible in caring for the needs of the earth itself, and the needs of all of God’s creatures.
It is always important that we come to the liturgy from our personal prayer. So, considering Pope Francis’ reminders in Laudato Si, our personal prayer, as well as our church prayer, needs to include concern for the earth and for all living creatures. Using the words of Pope Francis: “The poor and the earth are crying out,” here are some suggestions for personal prayer and reflection, adapted from Francis’ Laudato Si prayers.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
Help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it.
Bring healing to our lives, 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 living thing.
Teach us to be filled with awe and contemplation that we may recognize how profoundly united we are with every creature.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Show us our place in this world as channels of your love.
Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference and grow to love the common good
Seize us with your power and light that we may prepare for a better future.
Encourage us to work tirelessly for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace and love.
To further our understanding of the wisdom shared in Laudato Si, the Office for Worship is providing two upcoming opportunities for reflection on this urgent call of action to serve the needs of the earth:
On Saturday morning, November 3, 2018 at Our Lady of Grace Church in Encino, a workshop entitled “Laudato Si and the Liturgy: Ecological Spirituality and Liturgical Music” is being led by longtime liturgical musician, Bob Hurd. If you would like to participate in this workshop, please register online.
On Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Office for Worship, the cathedral and the Office of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs are co-sponsoring a special first-time-ever event entitled: Blessings of the Earth. This will be a musical prayer performance with combined Catholic and Jewish musicians from faith communities throughout Los Angeles joining in “sacred, affectionate and humble respect,” to build bridges through music and through our common concern for the care of creation. This event is free.
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