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An Urgent Request from Pope Francis: September 1 to be World Day of Prayer for Creation [Prayer Meditation with Youth]

As an artist, I am often inspired to try and imitate or reproduce the beauty I see in nature. With my paint brush, I can sweep colors of paint across a canvas to try and portray the splendor of a brilliant pink, yellow, orange, and purple sunset. Yet, try as I might, my paintings never fully capture the magnificence of the actual sunset. My artistic attempts cannot duplicate the real thing. It’s like traveling to a stunning location and wanting to freeze the moment in a photograph. A picture, even taken with the most expensive camera, still is not as satisfying as being at the location yourself. Of course this begs the question, does art imitate life or does life imitate art? For those who believe in a God of “All Creation,” the answer is always art imitates life. God is the original master or "artist" and humankind might try to replicate the original, but we cannot fully duplicate the master's handiwork. All the natural beauty and mystery that surround us is something we as humans cannot recreate. I can paint a sunset but I cannot originate one. But I can however, look upon a sunset with reverence and honor for the incredible gift of the fleeting beauty it offers. I can stand before a sunset and feel amazed in knowing that I am part of all that is God’s glorious creation. It is humbling to consider that the care of all this mystery and magnificence has been entrusted to us. Our vocation from God is to care for the very creation that inspires us.

It is written in the Sacred Scriptures that God is the creator of all. We (humankind) were created by God thus making us intimately and forever connected to all else created by God. We come from and are a part of God’s creation. We share the same land, water, sunshine, and air as do all the living creatures. St Francis surely understood this intimate relationship. In the Canticle of the Sun, he prays, “praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth, which sustains us and keeps us.” St Francis refers to the sun, moon, ocean, wind and stars as his brothers and sisters. St. Francis lived his life as if there was no separation between him and the natural world that he existed in.

Following in the footsteps of St. Francis, Pope Francis asks us to have faith in our sacred relationship with all of God’s creation. On September 1st, Pope Francis invites us to begin a new tradition in the Catholic faith. Beginning with this year, we are asked to set aside the 1st of September to pray especially for the gift of God’s creation. You might ask why ask for prayers now and why should we pray for what many consider to be a political issue? Care for creation has been an important aspect of catholic social teaching for a while but with the current alarming environmental issues escalating the Pope feels that now is the time for Catholics to come together and act. Pope Francis has declared that we have an “ecological crises” and that we are being called to a “profound spiritual conversion” and a way of life that clearly shows we take seriously our Catholic faith. Quoting his encyclical, he said, "living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience."

According to the Pope, The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation should be a time for individuals to examine their lifestyles and the way they impact the environment. This day of reflection is an opportunity for us to remember and reclaim our vocation to be custodians of creation. This day of prayer beautifully opens the Season of Creation, which we’ll celebrate from September 1 to October 4 (Feast of St Francis).

Please use the following resources to join Pope Francis and Catholics around the globe to pray individually or to lead a group prayer in your parish or school.


Join the Global Facebook Movement to Pray for God’s Creation

https://www.facebook.com/events/412370418971986/


A Prayer for our Earth By Pope Francis

All-powerful God,

you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

Pope Francis published this prayer in his Laudato Si’ encyclical, and is meant for sharing with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator


Guided Meditation Prayer for September 1st World Day of Prayer for Creation

Adapted from the Youth Ministry Access Session “Climate Change; Stories of Hope!” written by Susan Searle

Note to Leader: If possible, go outside for this meditation or use a recording of nature sounds (ocean waves, birds singing, thunderstorm, etc.) for background for the guided meditation.

Gather

Prayer Leader: (begin with the Sign of the Cross)

Loving God,

We ask your blessings upon us and upon the beautiful earth which you have entrusted to our care. Help us to be better custodians of our home. Give us wisdom to see that we must make changes in our lifestyles and hope to see that we can make heal our Mother Earth. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus and in Your Spirit. Amen.

Listen

Before beginning the meditation ask everyone to sit comfortably and close their eyes.

Read slowly and pause briefly between the lines.

With your eyes closed, take a deep breath…

Allow yourself to use your breath to release any tension you may feel in your body…

Breathe in and breathe out…

Rest in your breath

Relax and trust the earth underneath to support you

Use your mind to see a lush green forest…

Use your mind to visualize a great mountain…

Use your mind to imagine that you are standing in front of the wide open ocean…

Use your mind to look into the gentle eyes of a majestic elephant…

Use your mind to see the playful smile of an infant child…

Notice how you feel when you are immersed in God’s creation

Feel how creation heals your spirit…

Be aware of how God’s presence is in all creation…

Caring for creation helps us to honor God’s presence…

There is no separation between our spirituality and God’s creation…

God is everywhere…

God is in the air we breathe…

God is in the water we drink…

God is within you…

God is present in all of creation…

God’s handiwork is in all of nature: The trees, the animals, the ocean, even the tiniest of insect. God’s creation is everywhere.

But this planet with all its wonders is more than just something beautiful to admire.

We are intimately connected to creation

We need access to clean flowing rivers to remember that our lives continually flow on…

We need a green forest with majestic pines to remember that our faith is ever-growing…

We need the beauty of a clear still lake to remember that God sees right through to our soul…

We need the vastness of the world’s oceans to remind us that God’s love is everywhere…

We need to look into another person’s eyes to remember that we are all loved by our creator…

We are part of nature…

Nature is part of who we are…

When nature suffers, we suffer too…

We are responsible to care for God’s creation…

We have been entrusted by God to be custodians of this planet…

Imagine a world where there is no trash littered on the road…

Imagine a world where the sky is always bright blue and not hazy from pollution…

Imagine a world where people across the globe aren’t suffering from the effects of pollution …

Imagine a world where the fish and sea life do not have to swim in contaminated waters…

Imagine a world where the natural habitats of animal are not disappearing…

Imagine a world where plastic was not everywhere

See in your mind what our world would look like if it were pristine and clean

The way God intended it to be…

Imagine our world where there are enough natural resources for all…

Imagine our world where everyone breathes clean air and drinks safe water…

Now see yourself as part of that world…

Understand that you have a vocation to create this kind or environment

Take a few minutes and listen to how God may be calling you to care for the planet…

Pause for a few moments then guide participants slowly from their meditation. Take your time leading participants to open their eyes and move their bodies.

Respond

Invite participants to journal on the following question:

What is God calling me to do to care for the earth, its resources, and its people?

Ask participants to share with the larger group one thing they can commit to doing as a result of their meditation experience.

Go Forth

Prayer Leader:

Thank you, God, for loving us so much that you provided us with the earth on which we live. We praise you for your generosity and we ask you to give us the strength and conviction to live our vocation to care for your great creation. We also ask for forgiveness for all the sins we have committed against creation. Please forgive us and help us to heal our transgressions against our Mother Earth.

We pray together:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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