In 2015, during the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Pope Francis communicated to the universal Church the institution of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which thereafter was and continues to be, celebrated annually on the first of September. In his letter, on the occasion of the institution of this day, Pope Francis expresses his desire to offer a contribution “to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing,” a crisis that calls us to a deep ecological conversion.
The decision 12 of the XXV General Chapter called us to “promote ecologically supportive themes in our various apostolic works and celebrations.” Thus, this coming September 1st is the opportunity for us to strengthen this ecological consciousness within the Congregation, as a part of the proclamation of the Plentiful Redemption of Christ the Redeemer.
During the audience with the Alphonsian Academy in February of this year, Pope Francis reminded the Redemptorists “Moral theology must take on board the urgency of participating in a convincing manner to the common effort towards the care of our common home through practical ways of integral development.” With this, we may understand that the ecological issue comes into the scope of our redemptorist mission.
If we take seriously the current ecological crisis and the call made by the Pope in his encyclical Laudato Si, we will realize that the riches of the abundant Redemption are also offered to our Common House; we affirm that the concept of our Common House falls into the category of “the most abandoned,” given the unacceptable ecological conditions within our Common House today. All this has a lot to do with our Redemptorist charism. How can we integrate these notions into concrete realities?
Many countries have reported having reached new records on the rising of temperature during the month of July this year. This is a clear sign that our Common House is not only injured but is also abandoned. For many, it seems that caring for our planet is not an important issue. Although considering for some others this is a matter of real concern, nonetheless, their actions do not seem to have a great impact on the reality of this world. Realities such as climate change are not only a scientific or political issue but also an issue of justice for the poorest since it is they who first and most severely, suffer the consequences of the ecological crisis. At the same time, it is also a matter of faith and spirituality that demands conversion on our part.
It is time to carry out our own ecological conversion within the Congregation and to foster the conversion of the people we serve. It is necessary to get involved in the activities such as formation, campaigns in the process of caring for our Common Home and to take action in our lives and communities to create awareness, in accordance with the circumstances within which we live, in each unit and conference. For the celebration of the Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, within some religious communities, for instance, a fast of flesh and palm oil is being promoted as an expression of the desire to protect rainforests and what they contain. Others will celebrate this day by reducing the use of plastic in their communities. Many others will prepare meaningful liturgical and prayer services, campaigns and training materials. Ultimately, there is no single formula to celebrate this day, each community will find the most appropriate way to do it. What is true is that we share a single concern and a single mission: to witness to the abundant Redemption in solidarity with the wounded world.
General Secretariat for Evangelization
The following links may offer some resources and materials that can inspire us as we prepare for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. These resources can also be explored for a variety of purposes.