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August 31, 2023 WBB Prayers & Practices, WBB Catholic Identity, REL Asset - Activity, REL Catechetical - K–6, REL Catechetical - Jr High, REL Catechetical - Early Childhood, REL Topic - Morality, REL Topic- Saints, REL Topic- Prayer, REL PD - Family Faith

Celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

In September 2015, Pope Francis established the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This date, September 1, also begins the Season of Creation, a five-week opportunity inviting Christians to commit to stewardship of and prayer for the great gift of God’s creation. The Season of Creation ends on October 4, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. This article explores ways to celebrate the Season of Creation and provides a printable version of Saint Francis’s Canticle of Creation Prayer Card to share with Catholics of all ages.

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Answering The Call to Care for God's Creation

Care for creation is an essential element of our faith. Catholic Social Teaching, which calls us to work for justice and peace as Jesus did, includes care for God’s creation as one of its seven themes. Responding to this call means becoming stewards of creation, respecting and protecting the environment for the health of the world today and for generations to come. The call to care for creation is increasingly urgent and universal.

We are all called to care for creation, and we can all answer this call. It is a part of our vocation as Catholics. No matter how young or old we are, each of us has influence over the world we call home. Children love to learn about and care for creation. By participating in the care of creation, children are empowered. Their innate sense of wonder, compassion, and empathy makes the theme of caring for creation especially relevant.

 

Children love to learn about and care for creation. By participating in the care of creation, children are empowered.

10 Ways to Respond to the Call to Care for Creation

Here are ten simple ways to respond to the call to care for creation and to celebrate the Season of Creation at any age. These acts are multiplied when they are joined to the efforts of others, in the family, religious education program, school or parish, community, and beyond. They add to a collective commitment that can make a big difference in the world!

#1: Reflect on the theme for this year’s Season of Creation.

The theme for the 2023 Season of Creation is “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” from Scripture: “let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24). Read the full passage from the Book of Amos, and then read and reflect on Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation to understand the meaning of the theme and the ways that by transforming hearts, lifestyles, and public policies Christians can sow justice and peace like a life-giving “mighty river.”

#2: Practice wonder and awe.

God created the world and everything in it. Through the practice of looking at creation with wonder and awe, we become more attuned to the many amazing gifts that surround us. A lens of gratitude and awe for God’s gifts of creation that sustain life and provide for us inspires prayer that thanks and praises God for the wonderful and awesome gifts of creation.

#3: Talk about conservation and care.

Family and community discussions about conservation and care for the environment are the starting point to change. Small personal decisions, like turning off a light switch when leaving a room, the proper disposal of trash, and the conservation of water can be steps that even the youngest disciples take to care for creation. On a larger scale, discourse on and participation in community and public policy making about conservation and environmental justice are important topics that Catholics should weigh in on, through this lens of stewardship.

#4: Participate in the Sacrament of Penance.

Pope John Paull II called Catholics to an “ecological conversion,” a practice which requires an examination of conscience. Participating in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation for Catholics and families through the lens of stewardship brings forgiveness and healing for sins against creation, both large and small. Plan to celebrate the sacrament as a family during the Season of Creation.

#5: Avoid a disposable mindset.

In his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', Pope Francis describes a "throwaway culture," in which many of the things we as humans buy and use are quickly discarded, becoming part of global trash and pollution problems with far reaching impacts. Counteracting this culture means reusing whatever we can and being considerate consumers. Families can choose to buy or use products that are made with the earth in mind.

#6: Grow something together.

Families can plant trees that provide shade and clean air, and flowers that welcome pollinators to their own gardens and support diversity. Whether in a backyard, community garden, or faraway forest, these efforts are both beautiful and life-giving for all creatures.

#7: Pray.

Prayer is at the center of our lives as Catholics and an essential part of our vocation as stewards of creation. During the Season of Creation and year-round we can pray for those who are negatively impacted by climate change. We can pray for the strength to make small daily changes that consider creation and respond to God’s call to stewardship. Individual, family, and community prayer services can be planned and shared during this season.

#8: Enjoy God’s creation together.

Autumn is a beautiful season to take in the wonder of creation. Spending time in nature with others in ways that are respectful to the environment are a wonderful way to celebrate the Season of Creation. Try some simple fall family activities to get outside and celebrate the beauty of God’s creation.

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#9: Attend a special Mass or program in your parish.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the ways Catholics give thanks to God. The word eucharist means "thanksgiving." In Laudato Si' Pope Francis wrote that through “the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God" (no. 236). In addition to regular participation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist during the Season of Creation, check your church bulletin or with your parish to plan to attend special Masses or community prayers offered.

#10: Be inspired by the saints.

The lives of the saints are an inspiration to Catholics in living as friends of Jesus. There are many saints whose care for creation inspire us today, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, Pope St. John Paul II, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Saint Francis has been an inspiration to Pope Francis in his teachings about creation. Saint Francis is the patron saint of ecology. Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, is named from that same canticle in praise of creation composed by Saint Francis. The feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, October 4, concludes the ecumenical Season of Creation. Learn more about his life and influence in the biography below.

The Inspiration of Saint Francis of Assisi

As we prepare for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation, and reflect on our call to care for God’s creation, we can remember the life and the words of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saint Francis grew up the son of a wealthy cloth merchant and his wife in the town of Assisi in the Italian hills. Though Francis had everything he needed, including many things and a comfortable life, he wanted to give his life to a noble cause. An early career in the army did not satisfy him, so he turned in a very different direction, getting involved in works of charity. He visited hospitals, took care of those who had no one to care for them, and gave money and clothing to beggars.

One day he was praying in the rundown church of San Damiano when he heard a voice challenging him to rebuild the Church. At first, Francis thought the voice was referring to the actual building of San Damiano, which badly needed repairs. He took cloth from his father's storehouse and sold it to buy building materials. His father was embarrassed by the dramatic change in Francis and demanded that he give the money back, even appealing to the bishop to talk sense into his son. The bishop kindly explained to Francis that he could not serve God by taking what did not belong to him. Francis realized that the best gift he could give to God was not any possession, but the gift of his life.

Francis dressed in old clothes and traveled through the countryside doing manual labor and helping the poor. He refused to own anything so that he would be reminded of God's love and care for everything he has created.

Francis had a deep respect for nature and animals. He composed a hymn in praise of creation. Many of the friends who had shared his previous extravagant lifestyle were now attracted to Francis' enthusiasm for a simple way of life. Some of them sold all of their belongings and came to live with Francis. A young woman named Clare asked Francis to help her start a community of women who wanted to live the dramatic poverty of Francis and his brothers.

Near the end of his life, Saint Francis of Assisi became very ill and suffered greatly. However, he did not complain, nor did he want the brothers to treat him differently because he was sick. He welcomed suffering as a way to draw close to Christ. He died surrounded by his brothers, who sang the famous canticle that he had written in praise of all creation.

Canticle of Creation

Download the Canticle of Creation Prayer Card. Disciples of all ages can color the image as they reflect on the words of the prayer. Display and pray the prayer during the Season of Creation to remember to be a steward of creation!

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The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the Season of Creation, and the life of Saint Francis of Assisi are reminders that we are all urgently called to be stewards of God’s creation and that each of us can make a difference in working towards peace and justice like a “mighty river.” During the Season of Creation, implement these ten simple ways to answer the call to be a steward, and explore additional resources to care for creation all year long.

 

 

 

Additional Resources