The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is an annual event during which Christians worldwide are invited to celebrate and care for God’s creation. In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios 1 proclaimed September 1st as the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Since then, many Christian churches have embraced this special day. Its focus has been extended to a month-long celebration of the Season of Creation concluding on October 4th, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology. In 2015 Pope Francis officially acknowledged the Catholic Church’s embrace of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation. The theme for this year’s Season of Creation is: ‘A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God.’ Oikos is the Greek word for home. This theme reminds us of the common bond Christians share as we reverence all creation as God’s good gift, recognize our inter-dependence and give thanks for the opportunity to care for our Earthly home.
In these times when the global community faces many disruptions and uncertainties across social and environmental landscapes, we all need words of encouragement and opportunities to see our way forward as co-creators of a sustainable future. Columban Fr Charles Rue, in his liturgical resource, Prayers of Hope in Times of Turmoil; A Catholic Season of Creation Year B, says: “Faith tells us that the God of Life is with us in this time of turmoil and cares for every facet and form of life on Earth.”
The scientific community, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and many others are unanimous that solutions are available for humans to live in new ways that are in harmony with creation and that collaborative action is our way forward. Pope Francis says in his video message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: “We need a change that unites us.” One of the Pope’s recurring messages is that all sectors in society have a role to play, and he urges us all to raise our ambitions for a healthier, safer and fairer future for all. In his book, Let us Dream, the Path to a better Future, the Pope says: “This is the moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities, what we value, what we want, what we seek, God asks us to dare to create something new.”
In his Encyclical letter of 2020, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis reminds us of the inspiration modelled in the life of St Francis, who recognized the sacred in everything. The Pope states, “We must not lose our ability to listen. Saint Francis heard the voice of God, he heard the voice of the poor, he heard the voice of the infirm, and he heard the voice of nature” (#48).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples along with all First Nations Peoples worldwide urge us to listen to what creation teaches us. In an interview with Stephanie Dowrick for the Sydney Morning Herald on July 16th, 2021, Senior Australia of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann talked about the principles of Dadirri. Dr Miriam-Rose, an Elder of the Ngangiwumirr language group, stated that Dadirri comes as “deep inner listening and quiet still awareness. You’ve got to be open in your spirit and start by slowing down. And open to the equally deep truths that every life matters, that we all belong to one another, and that we live in oneness with the universe”. Dr Miriam-Rose says Dadirri is a spirituality known to all First Nations Peoples and yet belongs to us all.
The Faith Ecology Network (FEN) is an Australian-based group of people who connect faith with ecological awareness and care through listening and exchange. FEN promotes the mutual appreciation of religious traditions regarding ecological insights, discerns and fosters religious reasons for environmental advocacy, and strengthens the dialogue between science and faith groups. Columban Missionaries hosted FEN for 14years and remain active members. Events organized by FEN raise awareness about climate change, food security and water that inspire participants to take action in their faith communities.
As we mark the beginning of the Season of Creation with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, we are invited to pray: “Call us again O God, to till and to keep. Gather us into the power of just relationships that heal and sustain. Enlighten us by your Spirit that renews the face of your Earth and safeguards a home for all. Amen”.
From the thanksgiving for the Earth prayer for Season of Creation Celebration Guide: A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.
Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM is a team member of the Columban Peace, Ecology & Justice office in Australia.
- Read more from the current Columban PEJ eBulletin
- 7 Days of Creation, Scriptural Prayers and Reflection, Year B - a prayerful way for preparing to celebrate 1st September as World Day of Prayer for Creation
- Prayers of Hope in Times of Turmoil: A Catholic Season of Creation - Sundays of September (Year B)