Season of Creation

Season of Creation Begins with World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

In 2015 Pope Francis asked Catholics to join with the Orthodox Church to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. A number of other Christian churches had already joined them in it for a number of years. Now the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is an annual event in the Catholic Church too. In fact Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined together to make this statement for 2017.

As Pope Francis explains, it is a “significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.” Read his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation here.

Celebrated on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation now marks the beginning of the Season of Creation.

Pope Francis’ Message for the Season of Creation 2018

How will you respond to Pope Francis’ message this year?

A Catholic Season of Creation

The idea of celebrating a Season of Creation began in the Lutheran Church in Adelaide, Australia in 2000. Now many different churches all over the world take part. In 2016 the Catholic Church joined in.

The season embraces the four Sundays of September before the Feast of St Francis of Assisi – 4 October. Norman Habel explains:

“The season of Creation offers an opportunity for churches to introduce new visual elements into their worship and to be ecumenical and connected with creation in a particular context.”

Read more about the history of the Season of Creation here.

2017 Catholic Resources Year A

The Columban Mission Institute’s Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice provides excellent resources for the Season of Creation for Catholic congregations and schools. They include prayer, reflection and action ideas and are linked to the readings in the Catholic lectionary. Download their resources here.

2016 Catholic Resources Year C

Download Catholic resources for the Season of Creation 2016 here.

More on Catholic Teaching

Find out more about Catholic teaching on integral ecology here.

Learn about Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of our common home here.

Two Prayers from Pedro Arrupe

Photo of Pedro Arrupe by Don Doll
Photo of Pedro Arrupe by Don Doll

Pedro Arrupe, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983, died on 5 February 1991. His leadership saw a great deepening of the Jesuit commitment to a faith that does justice.

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking at the Jesuits’ General Congregation 35, acknowledged the establishment of the Jesuit Refugee Service as one of Arrupe’s “far-sighted intuitions”. Much loved and considered by many to be a saint, the cause for his canonisation was launched in 2018. There are several steps in the process of being formally recognised as a saint, which James Martin SJ explains here.

Here are two of Pedro Arrupe’s most loved prayers. James Martin SJ says that the first is attributed to him, and was probably copied down during one of his public lectures. The second was written after suffered a stroke. Now, as well as joining Servant of God Pedro Arrupe in praying these prayers, we can ask his intercessions for us.

Falling in Love

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

In the Hands of God

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
But now there is a difference;
the initiative is entirely with God.
It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
to know and feel myself
so totally in God’s hands.

Holy Week – It’s Not Over Yet

Guest post by Esmey Herscovitch RSCJ for Holy Week.

There is a little book by Brendan Lovett entitled It’s Not Over Yet … Christological Reflections on Holy Week.

At this time of Holy Week we are aware of the experiences of Jesus some two thousand years ago – experiences of fickleness, infidelity, ridicule, mockery, humiliation, betrayal, violence, physical and mental anguish and pain.

In St Mark’s Gospel the graphic words in chapter 14 verse 33: “And a sudden fear came over him, and great distress… and he said to them ‘my soul is sorrowful to the point of death'” capture those experiences in some way, but as we look at what is happening to the Rohingya people, the peoples of Congo, Yemen, Syria and so many other places as well as to the physical world we can get an inkling of what Jesus also experienced.

We reflect that what is done to the least of people is done to Jesus so Jesus continues his passion in our world today – certainly “it’s not over yet”.

Palm Sunday Peace March

A March for Justice or Peace?

I’m not sure exactly when the Palm Sunday Peace March in my city began to be rebranded as a rally for justice. This year the theme is justice for refugees. Asylum seekers and refugees are in desperate need of a more just and compassionate response from our government, so I want to participate to show my support. But to me this is not the same as a peace march.

It is more than thirty years since my first Palm Sunday Peace March. No, my parents didn’t take me along as a baby. I was a teenager and went with Christian peace activists who I met at university. My parents were not amused.

I remember more skipping, dancing and singing than actual marching. Fist-waving, shouting and banners against the nuclear policy known as Mutually Assured Destruction featured too. But not so much among the faith-based groups.

You may say that my first Palm Sunday Peace March, and the many peace marches since, have changed… not very much at all. But they did change me. Slowly, and more deeply over time.

Learning About Peace

At first it was just exciting to be with many Christians of different kinds who also believed that the non-violent witness of Jesus continued to call us to act for peace in the world. I began to understand more deeply the need for faith to be active, public and communal, and not just personal and devotional. Over time I began to appreciate the complexity of the dynamic interrelationship between justice and peace within one’s own self, in relationships with others, and in relationships at different levels of social aggregation. I began to observe how anger against, and love for, are very different beasts. Anger tends to spread anger and love tends to spread love. I noticed that people – including me – aren’t always good at spotting the difference between righteous rage and self-righteousness in themselves! We are so much like the original Palm Sunday crowd who gave the simple, non-violent Jesus a hero’s welcome to Jerusalem – and a week later shouted ‘crucify him’.

Marching on Palm Sunday

Jesus did not win a political campaign for justice. The victory of the Prince of Peace was in being faithful to the end, refusing to give in to the temptation of violence, ending the reign of death and reconciling us with God. His was the victory of self-emptying love. When Christians march on Palm Sunday we know where the journey leads. The things that are worth dying – and living – for cannot be attained through killing or violence. Peace comes through right relationships among people, with God, and with the whole of creation. Justice for asylum seekers and refugees is one part of that. A peace march remembers the other parts too. The Kingdom of God that Jesus announced is one of justice, peace and joy in the Lord.

People of all faiths and none will be at the rally for justice for refugees, and that is good. But for me, as a Christian, the point of marching on Palm Sunday will always be about peace.

Sandie Cornish

Easter Eggs & Economic Justice

The season of Lent calls us to take stock of our lives. How well are we witnessing to our values and beliefs? Do they permeate every dimension of our lives, or do we, perhaps without thinking too much about it, bracket them from some parts of our lives? During the season of Lent we ask ourselves how we can follow Jesus more closely, accepting his invitation to make the Kingdom of God present in the world. In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that evangelisation is not complete if the Gospel is separated from any part of life (EG, n 181).

The light of the Gospel touches every part of our lives – if we let it in. For example, we can make the Kingdom of God present in the world through what we do – and do not – buy. Fair trade Easter eggs can be an icon of the light of the Gospel shinning on the economic dimension of life.

Is Chocolate a Faith Issue?

Will you be buying fair trade Easter eggs? Perhaps you haven’t really thought much about chocolate production as a faith issue? However the way in which a lot of chocolate is produced involves the exploitation and even enslavement and trafficking of workers, including children. Unfair terms of trade also keep communities in poverty and dependence. These are issues that Pope Francis is very concerned about. So, if you want to stand with him against these injustices, one thing that you can do is to buy only fair trade chocolate.

Never heard of fair trade chocolate?

There’s lots of information about fair trade chocolate at Stop the Traffick. Each year Australian Religious Against Trafficking in Humans runs an Easter campaign designed to raise awareness of the links between chocolate production and trafficking in persons and how we can use our power as consumers to promote change. We can witness to our faith by shopping for fair trade Easter eggs.

How will you recognize fair trade chocolate?

There is a system of accreditation and labeling run by Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand as part of the international fair trade network. It works in a similar way to the accreditation and labeling of organic products.

There are also producers and retail networks that specialise in fair trade products. The Trading Circle, created by the Good Shepherd Sisters is a good example. They support income-generating projects that provide women with alternatives to prostitution and that reduce the vulnerability of communities to trafficking. You can support their work by buying their products online or in-store.

School Activities

Check out the schools section of the Traffik Free Chocolate website for activities and resources. Go to this page for a good chocolate gamification update on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.

Another Way of Behaving in the Economy

Fair trade networks witness to the Gospel by demonstrating that there is another way of behaving in the economy. Exploitation is not inevitable – it is a choice on the part of producers and consumers. Witnessing to alternative ways of living in the world is a particular gift to the church of the religious institutes and they have been at the forefront of Catholic action on fair trade.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, calls for love and the logic of gift to be part of the way in which the global economy operates. This should not be a redistributive afterthought, but an integral part of systems of production and consumption. What fair trade networks have demonstrated is possible must now become an ordinary part of all production and consumption.

Clearly, a Christian commitment to fair trade products must go beyond chocolate, and beyond the Easter season. Likewise our participation in making the Kingdom of God present in the world goes beyond our patterns of consumption. But right now, fair trade Easter eggs can be an icon of the new life of the Resurrection present even in acts of production and consumption.