Care of Creation – 1 September
To help us celebrate Pope Francis’ Care of Creation day and to accompany us on our journey to the feast of St Francis, Carmody Grey offers us some thought and reflections across the next four weeks to stimulate us in our reading and re-reading of Laudato Si’ and help move us and our communities – whether that be family, neighbourhood, or parish – into action.
Join us each week as we embrace the challenge to be a people who cherish the gift of creation and seek to wonder in the blessing of God around us.
A Spirituality of Creation
Catholics are slowly getting accustomed to the idea that the care of creation is part of our religious responsibility. We understand that we are custodians of creation, that we have a sacred responsibility to steward it according to God’s purposes. Even so, it is hard to shake the habit of thinking of the natural and nonhuman world as a kind of furniture: a pleasant and diverting backdrop for us to journey through this world on our way to the next.
But the teaching of Laudato Si draws our attention to the fact that God has purposes for and in creation. We need to pause and absorb this. What could such purposes be? How are we supposed to serve these purposes?
It is the constant teaching of Scripture and tradition that God intends to renew creation. It has a permanent relevance and an intrinsic place in God’s plan. It is not dispensable; it participates in salvation history in a unique and specific way. At the fall, it is marred by human sin and suffers from our wrongdoing; it participates with joy in the coming of the Saviour; and it will be resplendently transformed at the consummation of all things.
Creation must be part of our religious life, not peripheral to it. Hence, we are asked to pray for the care of creation; to pray that we are able to fulfil our role as stewards, in order that God’s plan for creation can come to its fruition. In other words, creation should be a presence in our prayer, in our communication with God, both our listening and our speaking.
The Scriptures give us multiple ways of imagining this presence. The ravens’ young cry to God for their food (Job 38.41). The lions seek their food from God (Psalm 104.21). The whole cosmos groans for redemption in Christ (Romans 8.22). Scripture thus indicates clearly to us that we not only pray for the care of creation; we pray with creation. When we pray we join in the hymn that arises spontaneously and unceasingly from all creatures to their Creator. In the marvellous words of the Benedicite, even frost and snow, seas and rivers, bless the Lord. Thomas Merton puts it with characteristic force: “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree… The special clumsy beauty of this particular colt on this April day in this field under these clouds is a holiness consecrated to God by his own creative wisdom, and it declares the glory of God.” If we can learn to listen to the natural world as a voice of prayer, we will be better prepared to serve God’s purpose to renew all creation in Christ.
Question for Reflection:
Pope Francis has asked us to develop an ecological spirituality. What can I do to make creation a presence in my prayer? Do I allow creation to move me to praise, thanksgiving, petition, or penitence?
You can find the full version of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ here.