“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”—Papal encyclical, Vatican City, May 24, 2015
During the Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4), denominations around the world are invited to pray and care for creation. In 1989 Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I from the Orthodox community, proclaimed September 1 as a World Day of Prayer for Creation. This was quickly embraced by other churches with Pope Francis declaring it a day of Prayer for Creation for the Catholic Church in 2015.
In 2016 many Christian agencies collaborated in an ecumenical celebration of Season of Creation. This network hosted over 300 local prayer services and events and two online prayer services which were led and attended by people across the globe last year.
You can participate this year. Here are some ideas:
● Symbolic actions of environmental healing could include a tree planting or placing,
or blessing solar panels on a congregation building.
● Prayers at a location of environmental injustice, such as by a highway ramp forced
through a lower income community, or a part of the city where nature is at risk.
● Incorporating creation and the poor in a prayer service. Bringing symbols of nature
inside or having the prayers led by members of an affected community.
Have a plan for follow up. The Season of Creation event could be the start of something, not the end of planning. Think of how you’ll engage people after the event is over. This event is advocating for our common home. Use this opportunity to find out how you might be interested in doing more to stand up for creation. How will you incorporate the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor into your daily life?
Message by H.A.H. Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I upon the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation (1/9/1990):
A year has passed since we issued a message declaring the 1st of September of each year as A Day of the Protection of the Environment. In that message, we called upon the Orthodox faithful and, indeed, upon every man and woman of good will, to consider the extent and the seriousness of the problem generated by the senseless abuse of material creation by human beings. On this day, which for the Orthodox Church is the first day of the ecclesiastical year, the Orthodox faithful are called upon to offer prayers to the Creator of all, thanking Him for the good of His creation and beseeching Him to protect it from every evil and destruction.
The message we offered last year continues to echo and to express the inquietude of our Church toward the continuing destruction of the natural environment. For this reason, we consider it expedient, rather than communicating in some other way, to present again today the same message, unabridged, to our faithful and to all men and women, and renew our fervent appeal to all.
Brethren and spiritual children, use the natural environment as its stewards and not as its owners. Acquire an ascetic ethos bearing in mind that everything in the natural world, whether great or small, has its importance for the life of the world, and nothing is useless or contemptible. Regard yourselves as being responsible before God for every creature and treat everything with love and care. Only in this way shall we prevent the threatening destruction of our planet and secure a physical environment where life for the coming generations of humankind will be healthy and happy.
May the Creator of all, in His goodness, be the protector and saviour of His “very good” creation throughout the New Year.