Today, on the feast of St. Francis, we conclude the Season of Creation for this year. During the past month, we have reflected on the wonder of creation and our responsibility to Earth and all its living beings. We have tried to follow the theme of this year- Listen to the Voice of Creation. As we end this period of awareness and reflection, let us interiorize these words of Pope Francis.
Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our rightful place in the natural created order – to remember that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters. Particularly during this Season of Creation, may we be attentive to the rhythms of this created world. The pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and we also need to restore the land. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have reminded us.
We give thanks for the gift of Creation.
Commit to continue your awareness of the gift of Creation. Make one concrete decision on how you will care for Earth in the coming year. Continue to educate yourself about the dangers of climate change.
But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Creator has done this?
The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good.
Every being has its own interior, its self, its mystery, its numinous aspect. To deprive any being of this sacred quality is to disrupt the total order of the universe. Reverence will be total or it will not be at all. The universe does not come to us in pieces any more than a human individual stands before us with some part of his/her being.
Woven into our lives is the very fire from the stars and the genes from the sea creatures, and everyone, utterly everyone, is kin in the radiant tapestry of being. This relationship is not external or extrinsic to our identity but wells up as the defining truth from our deepest being.
We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise.
Preamble to Earth Charter
If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
Francis of Assisi
This we know, the Earth does not belong to us; we belong to the Earth. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you, like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives….Life is sacred to him.