Rome (Italy). From 1 September, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to 4 October 2022, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Time of Creation is celebrated, “It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home“ (Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation 2022).
In the Message, Pope Francis recalls the origins of this ecumenical initiative, inspired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and made official in 2015, and the opportunity to “cultivate our ‘ecological conversion’, a conversion encouraged by St. John Paul II as a response to the ‘ecological catastrophe’ predicted by St. Pope Paul back in 1970″.
Paul VI, in fact, on 16 November 1970 in a speech to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said, “We already see the air we breathe being spoiled, the water we drink is polluted, the water we drink becomes contaminated as well as the beaches, the lakes, the oceans, to the point of causing fear of a true ‘biological death’ in the not-too-distant future, if energetic measures are not courageously decided and severely applied without delay”.
“Listen to the Voice of Creation” is the theme of the Time of Creation 2022, in which prayer and common action can help listen to the voices of individuals, communities, species, and ecosystems lost or threatened by habitat loss and climate change. Prayer focuses on the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.
Through celebrations, public moments of prayer, symbolic actions and initiatives, prayer communities can thus amplify the voices of young people, indigenous people, and affected communities that are not heard in society. Listening to the voice of creation offers members of the human family a common point for interreligious and interdisciplinary dialogue and practice. Listening to the voice of creation, Christians and all human beings are united in the vocation to take care of the common home (oikos).
The burning bush is the symbol taken from the biblical passage from Exodus “ their outcry has reached me … I know their sufferings … Now go! I am sending you … I will be with you” (Ex 3: 1-12). It visually recalls the fires due to the devastating effects of climate change, largely attributable to human greed and land misuse, leading to desertification and disintegration of ecosystems, destruction of habitats and species, loss of means of sustenance.
On the contrary, the fire that called Moses as he grazed the flock on Mount Horeb did not consume or destroy the bush, but revealed the presence of God. It indicates that God hears the cries of all who have suffered and promises to be with them. In the Time of Creation, this symbol of the Spirit of God calls everyone to listen to the voice of creation and to respond through adoration, repentance, and action.
In this regard, Pope Francis underlines the community dimension of ecological conversion: “As persons of faith, we feel ourselves even more responsible for acting each day in accordance with the summons to conversion. Nor is that summons simply individual: the ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion.”
For all the Educating Communities of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Time of Creation is a propitious time to start implementing processes that lead to gradually assuming, as indicated in the 2022-2027 Six-year Programming, the Deliberation of the XXIV General Chapter:
“The Chapter Assembly allowed itself to be challenged by the cry of the young, the poor, and the earth, and decided to involve the whole Institute in a concrete and continuous path of conversion to integral ecology, taking on the seven objectives of “Laudato Si’” in the spirit of the Preventive System.
To prepare for the Time of Creation, in addition to the Message of Pope Francis, the Advisory Committee of the Time of Creation makes available the Guide to the Celebration 2022 available in various languages:
On the Website https://seasonofcreation.org/ it will also be possible to study in depth the themes, consult other resources, and learn about all the events of the Time of Creation 2022.
On 1 September 2021, at 15:00 (Italy time) there will be the Opening Event of the Time of Creation, with the participation of Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, FMA, Secretary of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.