World Day of Prayer for Creation
Pope Francis has declared today, September 1, as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This will be an annual event, a welcome one in my view.
From Bonn, Germany where I am participating in a crucial meeting on climate change, I join Christians from all over the world, in the word of the Pope, to “implore God’s help in protecting creation.” This will be a difficult week, potentially a make-or-break one for the success of the Paris climate change summit at the end of the year. Most definitely, we need God’s intervention to be able to move forward.
The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is also an opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.” Recently in the Philippines, we witnessed the killing of Pamana, the Philippine eagle that had been freed from captivity after being nursed to health only to die in the hands of an ignorant, reckless or evil killer. But it’s not just birds and fishes or their habitats in forests and coral reefs that we are killing and destroying in our world; it’s humans, too. Here in Europe, it’s the issue of refugees, mistakenly described as migrants, that is in the news daily with reports of deaths both distressing and numbing.
This prayer day for Catholics is also a step forward to ecumenical unity. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople had initiated a similar prayer day for the Orthodox Church in 1989. According to Pope Francis, this day will be a time for individuals and communities to “reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis concluded the encyclical with what he described as his “lengthy reflection which has been both joyful and troubling,” with two prayers: “The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.”
For all persons of faith, for those who believe in a God who created the world, Pope Francis offered A Prayer For Our Earth:
“All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.”
For Christians, the Pope suggests A Christian Prayer In Union With Creation:
“Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made. You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, you became part of this earth, and you gazed upon this world with human eyes. Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory. Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you. Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who possess power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out. O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen.”
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