Christians worldwide celebrate the wonderful gift of God's creation in September each year during the Season of Creation. It is a time to give thanks for the gift of God's creation and an opportunity to feel connected and empowered as communities of faith as we respond to the many cries of our Earthly home.
Destruction of housing in Pakistan. Photo: Eric Siraj
The Columban’s Society Vicar, Fr Brian Vale says the Season of Creation is increasingly becoming a well-established and recognized time in the Churches liturgical year. Columbans promote the celebration of this special season in parishes, projects and mission centres worldwide. 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.
As people of faith, we are grounded in our awareness of the sacredness of life, God's presence in us and all around us. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in its Social Justice Statement 2021-2022, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, invites all Catholics on the journey of renewal to living sustainably within God's creation. Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Bishops Conference, states: “This year we offer some theological foundations for a genuinely Christian response to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor: creation in and through the Trinity; the sacramentality of all created things; the wonder and beauty available to the contemplative eye; and the need for conversion and change of life, in a time when our common home is in great need”.
Columban Missionaries worldwide contribute to the renewal of God's creation by listening and responding to the needs of the earth and the poor. In Pakistan, inter-connected, ecological and human issues are having immense impacts on lives and livelihoods. Factors such as rapid population growth and poverty contribute to severe threats to the rich biodiversity of plant and animal life across mountain, rainforest, grassland, and desert ecosystems. Pakistan is also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This situation forms the context for works of community engagement, education and environmental restoration events in the Columban Mission in Pakistan.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, states: “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all” (# 23). The Pope's message is that everything in creation is interconnected and that ongoing formation in this reality is vital to contributing to God's mission in our times.
There is ample evidence that climate change is wreaking havoc worldwide. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), August 9th, 2021 Report, states that over thousands of years human activity is changing the climate in an unprecedented way and that some changes are now irreversible. The report states that immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change and that urgent action is required in the coming decade. The Report importantly demonstrates that stabilizing a safer climate is still possible. Following the release of the IPCC Report, Irish Columban, Fr Sean McDonagh, stated that since the publication of the Pope's Encyclical, “tackling climate change is seen as a central element of Catholic Social Teaching”.
In the coming weeks, two important international events will bring world leaders together to set targets and strategies to limit global warming and protect creation for the future of all. These are the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15), October 11-24th, and the Climate Change Conference (COP 26), November 1-12th. Columbans are actively engaged in the lead up to these events and will participate in various ways at international and national levels.
Sr Wendy Flannery, a Sister of Mercy, recently stated that keeping hope in the prevailing goodness is the cornerstone to works of peace, justice and ecology. Sr Wendy said: “This is the fundamental Gospel story. Our Creator has set the whole universe story in motion. We don't know where it is heading, but our hope is based on our belief in Jesus' central message about life, life in all its fullness”. The interview with Sr Wendy was featured in CathNews, a service of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, on August 12th, 2021.
The Season of Creation offers the opportunity to be renewed in the vision and experience of the sacredness of all creation as we unite in prayer and action to protect our common home.
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)