“The world was made to communicate the glory of God.”
Pope Francis gave this reminder in his message for the 6th World Day of Prayer for Creation released this morning, Sept. 1, 2020, by the Holy See Press Office.
Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ on May 24, 2015, the first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4.
During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home. For this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the 2020 Season of Creation, is Jubilee for the Earth.
In the message, the Holy Father appealed that one mustn’t forget the Lord’s critical role in all Creation, citing, for example, the observation of Pope Benedict who meeting with Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, August 6, 2008, said “the brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property.”
In the message, Francis called for long term action to help the planet, and underlined specific initiatives and areas where he believes steps must be taken.
“Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our rightful place in the natural created order,” he said, saying, “to remember that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters. The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption.”
“Particularly during this Season of Creation,” he prayed, “may we be attentive to the rhythms of this created world. For the world was made to communicate the glory of God, to help us to discover in its beauty the Lord of all, and to return to him. The earth from which we were made is thus a place of prayer and meditation.”
Earth Healed Itself During Lockdowns…
During the Jubilee, God’s people were invited to rest from their usual labor and to let the land heal and the earth repair itself, as individuals consumed less than usual. Today we need to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy everyone with a sufficiency, without destroying the ecosystems that sustain us.
In some ways, he recognized, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living.
“Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest,” he said, observing: “the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving.”
“We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods,” he said.
“Creation,” the Pope decried, “is groaning!”
Long Term Action Plans…
The Pope expressed his delight that the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year is inspiring many initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor.
“This year,” he urged, “should lead to long-term action plans to practise integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare, business and agricultural institutions, and many others as well.”
The Holy Father also expressed his happiness that faith communities are coming together in these initiatives, and especially that the Season of Creation is becoming a truly ecumenical initiative. He called on everyone to continue to grow in the awareness that we all live in a common home as members of a single family.
“Let us all rejoice,” he said, “that our loving Creator sustains our humble efforts to care for the earth, which is also God’s home where his Word “became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14) and which is constantly being renewed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30).