Praying for the Living and the Dead and the Call to Community

On the eve of All Saints Day I have not been thinking about Halloween, tricks, treats or tacky costumes. I’ve been thinking about building community. Pope Francis is constantly calling us to a larger sense of community, and so does the communion of saints.

A Broad & Deep Sense of Community

During the Year of Mercy Pope Francis drew our attention to the works of mercy. The spiritual works of mercy include comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses readily, and bearing wrongs patiently. We can easily see how they build community, binding us together with one heart in the Heart of Jesus. For Christians, community can never just be about those who are nearest to or most like us. It is always outward reaching, inclusive and missionary. Our faith challenges us to a sense of community that is broad and deep in time and space.

Global Solidarity

The principle of solidarity reminds us that we are all actually responsible for one another. In our globalised world, both those who sleep on the streets of our cities, and those who flee violence on the other side of the world, are equally our neighbours. All are part of the human community.

Solidarity with All of Creation

Pope Francis enlarged the scope of our commitment to community when he added care for our common home to the works of mercy in 2016. He saw it as both a corporal and a spiritual work of mercy. Care for our common home reminds us that it is not enough for us to foster the human community. We are also responsible for respecting and building up the communion of all creation. It is not enough today to have an international consciousness – we are called to a cosmic consciousness.

The Dimension of Time

During November especially we remember that we also build community by praying for the living and the dead. This spiritual work of mercy extends our sense of community by adding the axis of time. We are a community that reaches back to the Jesus Movement and beyond that to our forebears in faith Sarah and Abraham. Isn’t it inspiring to realise that we are connected to the communion of saints and to all the saints to come? We have experience and tradition to draw wisdom from as we seek to respond to the needs of our world, and we have a part to play in the tradition’s ongoing development.

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.