by Sister Margaret Coppenrath
Every year we familiarly celebrate the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter with their rich and reflective liturgies. Now, thanks to our ecumenical sisters and brothers we have been given an opportunity to celebrate a new liturgical season, the Season of Creation.
In 1989, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed September 1 as a Day of Prayer for Creation for all Orthodox Christians. The World Council of Churches expanded on this idea by making this special day a season. Since 2007, Christian churches have set aside September 1 through October 4th (Feast of St. Francis) as a sacred time to come together for Creation. Over the years, major Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican organizations have joined together to support and encourage the 2.2 billion Christians to pray and act on behalf of the Earth.
The Season of Creation is a “time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion and commitment together. This year, amid crises that have shaken our world, we’re awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and each other. We enter a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth that requires radically new ways of living with creation.”
We Catholics are like the new kids on the block and have some catching up to do. Thankfully, in 2015 Pope Francis designated September 1 as a World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation for the worldwide Roman Catholic Church and introduced his momentous and deeply appreciated encyclical Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home to the world.
Pope Francis has urged Catholics to be spiritually and physically involved in the Season of Creation. Each day as we watch or read the news, we witness the increasingly loud cries of the Earth and the poor. Raging fires, hurricanes, tornados, horrendous flooding, racism, poverty, political unrest, businesses failing, job loss: all are happening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are truly catastrophic times.
“This year, the global reach of the novel coronavirus revealed our shared human nature and the inter-connectivity of our economies, political structures, health care systems, food production chains, and energy and transportation systems in devastating ways. The pandemic also demonstrated that the entire web is rooted in the earth and limited by the earth’s capacity to sustain our economic and ecological demands.” (World Council of Churches)
Pope Francis recognizes that our current state of the world calls for an ecological conversion on both a personal and collective level. Participating in the Season of Creation is a step in that direction.
“It is the season for letting our prayer life be inspired anew to reflect on our lifestyles. It is a time to undertake prophetic acts for creation. It is a time to call for courageous decisions and to direct the planet towards life not death. It is a time to care for the most vulnerable and to restore connections that make us whole.” (Pope Francis: Vatican News)
Hopefully, many have joined in the spirit and efforts of the Season of Creation 2020. Each one of us knows the power of intentionality when we pray and act as one. For more information, go to SeasonofCreation.com. This site is rich with resources and inspiration. You will see the good that others are doing for the Earth and one another. Choose some small step that will help bring about the healing of the Earth and each other. And, be sure to mark your calendars for next year!