Introducing A Season of Creation – 2017

As Christians, we observe the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter to celebrate the life of Jesus. We also observe the Season of Pentecost to celebrate the Christian life in the Spirit. However, there is no focus in the church year on God the creator, no opportunity to reflect in a concentrated way on the foundations of redemption and sanctification, namely, the very creation itself that is redeemed and sanctified. For centuries, our theology, our ethics, and our worship have been oriented in two dimensions: our relationship with God and our human relationships with one another. Let us now take time to turn our attention to God’s relationship with creation as well as our own relationship with all that makes up the universe.

In 1989, September 1st was proclaimed as the World Day of Prayer for Creation by the Orthodox Churches. Many other churches have joined this time of prayer for the Earth since then, some expanding the observance to a month-long program that has become known as A Season of Creation, ending on October 4 (Feast of St. Francis). Following on the publication of his encyclical on caring for the earth, Laudato Si’, in June of 2015, Pope Francis inaugurated Catholic participation in the program.

In 2016, in a message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis suggested that members of the church should consider adding “care for our common home” to the traditional Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. “If we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces,” the Pope stated. “Obviously ‘human life itself and everything it embraces’ includes care for our common home,” said Francis, adding: “So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy also include care for our common home.”

“As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’ which ‘allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us,’” observed the pope.

“As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world,’” he continued.

In our celebration of A Season of Creation, I will be posting weekly meditations that call us to actively follow these two new works of mercy that Pope Francis suggests. Using the program’s themes of the Forest, the Land, the Wilderness and the Rivers, these meditations will offer daily opportunities to see God in the world around us and to act in a positive way to help heal our ailing world.

During this year’s celebration of A Season of Creation we also have an opportunity to remember and reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home. This might be a good time to reread the encyclical and renew our commitment to care for our “common home” through our prayers and actions.

A Prayer for Creation (from A Season of Creation)

Jesus Christ, teach us to empathize with Earth.
Make our spirits sensitive to the cries of creation,
cries for justice from the land, the seas and the skies.
Jesus Christ, make our faith sensitive to the groans of the Spirit in creation,
groans of longing for a new creation.
Jesus Christ, make our hearts sensitive to the songs of our kin, songs of celebration from the sea, the forest and the air.
Jesus Christ, teach us to care.  Amen


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