Today, 1 September, we mark the ‘World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation’ as declared by Pope Francis. In this article the Pope also stated that this day of prayer:
…will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation and…to ask God’s forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.”
Our beautiful planet is the only one we have, and we need to take better care of it. Rampant development and ‘progress’ which depletes the earth’s resources, robs animals of their natural habitat, pollutes our waterways, causes or hastens the extinction of our precious flora and fauna, adds to global warming and climate change, and affects the food chain, will also impact upon every person’s quality of life on earth now and into the future for coming generations.
Positive action has been taken around the world to reduce waste and landfill, create new items out of recyclable and biodegradable materials, ban plastic bags, and so on, but more needs to be done. We can all do our part at a collective community, organisational, and individual level. Some ideas are listed at the end of this article.
Creation includes animals which God has put on earth to share in His gift of life. God gave us dominion over all of the animals, and this means that we must also love and care for them. Whether they exist as a source of food for us or as our pets and companions, animals also carry God’s wisdom and can teach us many things about how to live better. They can ‘speak’ to us by their wordless actions about how to live simply and worship God.
I do not know where this story came from or if it is true, but it has been said that dogs were given that name because they reflect the qualities and love of God (‘dog’ is God spelled backwards). My family has owned four dogs and, like many dog owners, our current fur-boy is incredibly loyal, forgiving, loving, and faithful. He is resilient, funny, beautiful, strong, gentle, simple, and trusting. One look at his little face and soulful eyes teaches me so many things about how to live one day at a time, and to put myself confidently at ease in the hands of our Creator.
Birds may be small and fragile but they also have much wisdom. During one bitterly cold winter’s day earlier this year when the rain was falling heavily, I witnessed two doves that are always seen together in our garden. They were sitting in the open air in the rain upon the clothes line. As I watched the water pounding down upon them, and feeling very sorry for them, I observed one of the birds do something which was extraordinary. It widely stretched out its wing and covered the other bird entirely, protecting it from the downpour. It stayed in that noble position, wing over its companion, for a long time. The bird itself was drenched but its companion looked dry and content. That action surprised me because I have never seen this displayed by a creature before. Call it animal instinct, nature, or what you will, but that bird demonstrated compassion, love, and care for another creature. This is how we also need to be in hard times, and in our treatment of one another.
How can you care for God’s creation?
Every tiny decision you make can affect the environment – from which mode of transport you use, to which brands you choose to buy, how you dispose of waste, and how you interact with your environment. Why not try some of the ideas below?
- Take time to examine your own lifestyle and the ways you are impacting the environment. Do you rely too much on your car? Could you walk or catch public transport more? Why not create a new garden where you live or on a nature strip in your street (with your local council’s permission)? Could you start growing your own food? Is there a local clean-up day you could participate in or create? How can you make your place more inviting for animals in your area?
- Why not get creative? Make or design a bird bath for local birds and other creatures in your garden. Use recyclable materials or containers when planting. Can your rubbish be used for another purpose instead of just thrown away? Do you have a compost bin?
- September 1 is just the first day of the “Season of Creation” which runs until 4 October. Perhaps there is already an event planned for your area, or you can get together with others in your parish to discuss what more you can do to help our planet.
- Read the resources below to understand more about the ‘World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation’ and what you can do to participate:
- Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis for the establishment of the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ (1st September)
- 10 Practical Ways You Can Care for Creation
- Care for Creation – Catholic Social Teaching
- Care for Creation Resources – Catholic Social Teaching