Today is the Second annual World Day Of Prayer For The Care Of Creation. Pope Francis initiated this day of prayer last year as an opportunity for us to be in solidarity with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, along with other Churches and Christian communities. It is a designated day of prayer to reaffirm our own vocation to be good stewards of creation and to give thanks to God for the marvelous beauty of his handiwork. It is also a time for prayerful reflection for deeper understanding of the ways we are misusing this tremendous gift of our ‘common home’ and rededicate ourselves to preserving the earth for future members of God’s family.
At Noon, Rome time, our Holy Father Pope Francis released this year’s Message for the day of prayer which is entitled: “Show Mercy To Our Common Home.” As the title indicates, the message strikes a penitential tone, calling the world’s population to an ecological conversion.
To demonstrate how Pope Francis’ Message and teaching regarding the respect that is owed creation is in continuity with previous Popes, you may wish to take a look at St. Pope John Paul II’s January 1, 1990 Message for the World Day of Peace; Peace With God The Creator, Peace With All Of Creation. Likewise, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s January 1, 2010 Message for World Day of Peace, If You Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Of course, this year’s Message from Pope Francis is an invitation to continue to live out his teaching found in last summer’s encyclical, Laudato Si, Care For Our Common Home.
In today’s Message, Pope Francis renews his call for us to examine our conscience for our part or participation in the ‘sins against creation.’ In this Year of Mercy, we prayerfully cry out to God asking mercy and pardon for our lack of respect for all that he has created. Through such prayerful examination of life, we are then invited to make a firm commitment to what he calls ‘ecological conversion’ which means that we will do all in our power to protect the earth from further degradation. We are to make a firm amendment of life to change our own behaviors of excessive consumption and to actively work for the preservation of our common home.
Perhaps a good way to celebrate this world day of prayer for the care of creation is to take a walk outside and allow the beauty of God’s creation to speak to the depths of our being. As we do so, let us give thanks to the Creator for his goodness. Ask the Holy Spirit to heighten your own awareness to the various forms of pollution that are visible in our part of the world. May it move us to sorrow and then to a firm commitment to be better stewards in the many ways available to us and our personal way of life.
God, Creator of all life, we give you thanks for the wonder of all your works. Help us to always praise you and to respect you in our care for the goodness of all you have made. AMEN.