The emphasis of Pope Francis on the care of creation has made us all more aware that ecological concerns are “not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” That awareness continues with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Pope Francis has established September 1 as an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, inspired by the example of the Orthodox Churches who have observed this day for a number of years. Pope Francis wishes to remind us that: “Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.” Thus, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”(Laudato Si’, 217).

The World Day of Prayer comes after the June 18th release of Laudato Si’, Praise Be to You, Pope Francis’s encyclical on caring for creation. (The phrase “praised be” is taken from a famous creation canticle by St. Francis of Assisi as he thanked God for the beauty of creation.) In the encyclical, the Pope calls to save God’s creation and to protect the poor, who are those most harmed by ecological destruction. Indeed, the idea of “integral ecology” is at the core of Pope Francis’s message: how we relate to one another, especially the poor, and how we relate to the environment are intimately connected.

Accordingly, the Dominican Sisters of Hope, along with staff, co-creators, Associates, and friends, will pray a reflection on Earth tomorrow along with a prayer based on Laudato Si’. In celebration of World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, we invite you to join us by taking a few quiet moments at your desk, in your home, or wherever is comfortable, and reflecting with us on the words below.

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Reflection

EARTH

The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, God’s boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighborhood square; going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves, (Laudato Si’, 84).

In silence, press your feet into the ground. Become aware of the earth beneath your feet. Marvel and be grateful for the nourishment you receive from “our mother, sister Earth.”

AIR

The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters….The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth, (Laudato Si, 2,21).

Become conscious of your breathing. Be grateful for the gift of air and resolve to use your voice to advocate for the purity of Earth’s atmosphere.

FIRE

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades…Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded, (Laudato Si’ 25)

Open and close your hands, aware that our ability to do so is fueled by the sun’s energy that is captured by the plant life that we eat. Rejoice in the energy of the sun and resolve to use your energy to face climate change, one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.

WATER

Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity, (Laudato Si’ 30).

Breathe again deeply, taking in molecules of water that have also passed through the bodies of all breathing creatures. Be grateful for the gift of water and resolve to use it with reverence and justice.

As a conclusion to our reflection, we ask you to reflect on the ways in which your Christian experience focuses on ecological concerns. As always, we welcome your comments in the comment box below or on Facebook.