St. Scholastica Monastery Gardens, Summer 2020.
SEASON OF CREATION: SEPTEMBER 1-OCTOBER 4
Adapted by Sister Pat Coughlin, OSB
During this fifth anniversary year of the promulgation of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si the Benedictine Sisters are placing emphasis on the issue of climate change. One of the most important of the many events to mark the anniversary is the worldwide ecumenical celebration of The Season of Creation which was inaugurated in 1989 when the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople proclaimed September 1 a day of prayer for the environment.
In 2015, Pope Francis added the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to the Catholic liturgical calendar to be celebrated on September 1st each year. In 2019, the Vatican asked Catholic communities and pastors everywhere to join ecumenical communities around the world in celebrating the Season of Creation from September 1st to October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In 2020, this period includes the 23rd through the 27th Sundays in Ordinary Time.
The Season of Creation is dedicated to prayer, reflection, and celebration of God as Creator. It also celebrates and reflects prayerfully on the gifts of creation and the mission given us by God to care for creation and respond to its needs and crises today.
The theme of the 2020 Season of Creation, chosen by its international steering committee, is Jubilee for the Earth. The ecumenical steering committee explains the theme this way: "Jubilee is a time to renounce overconsumption and economic systems based on constant economic growth at the cost of the Earth and those who are poor. Jubilee is a time when those who have consumed the most must make restitution to those who have suffered the most. Jubilee is a time of rest for the land from constant exploitation, to restore ecosystems and people."
Catholics might want to read and meditate on the reflections for each of the five Sundays of 2020 prepared by James Hug, S.J. with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and other resources found at catholicclimatecovenant.org.
The Benedictine Sisters invite you to join them in prayer and reflection as we celebrate the five Sundays of the Season of Creation 2020.
Season of Creation
Week One: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 6, 2020
The Season focuses on God as Creator of the vast cosmic universe, God’s revelation in Creation, and our calling to care for God’s creation, protect its rich diversity and address the urgent, destructive crises threatening its health and future.
This year’s theme is Jubilee for the Earth. Climate change, currently one of Earth’s most pressing crises, is a result of the intersection of greed, inequality and destruction of God’s Earth. Jubilee is a time to renounce overconsumption and economic systems based on constant economic growth at the cost of the Earth and those who are poor. Jubilee is a time when those who have consumed the most must care for those who have suffered the most. Jubilee is a time of rest for the land from constant exploitation, to restore ecosystems and people.
On this 1st Sunday of the Season of Creation, the scriptures call us to accept our prophetic responsibility in love to invite each other to conversion and care for creation in these times of ecological crisis.
Week Two: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 13, 2020
On the 1st Sunday of the Season of Creation, the scriptures called us to accept our prophetic responsibility in love to invite each other to conversion and care for creation in these times of ecological crisis.
The readings today remind us not to let our prophetic call to others turn into anger or vengeance against them. If we do not forgive each other, we cannot expect God to forgive us.
We are invited to reflect with gratitude on all the failings, sins, and abuse of creation that God has forgiven us and is now calling us to confront, heal and transform.
The call to be prophetic, yet patient, non-judgmental and forgiving with each other if we hope God to forgive us extends to all the dimensions of the “integral ecological conversion” which Pope Francis identifies as the prophetic word of God to our world at this time: the interconnected environmental, economic, and social dimensions.
Week Three: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 2020
In this Season of Creation, we are being called to recognize the global climate emergency in which we are living. The planet is warming dangerously because of our use of fossil fuels and our systems of production and consumption. The ways our economies function and the values they serve are depleting and wasting Earth’s resources, creating great inequalities, suffering and injustice, and exceeding Earth’s regenerative capacity. Earth is crying out, the poor are crying out, the existence and wellbeing of future generations is threatened.
Climate experts continue to warn of devastating, severe and destructive changes to all dimensions of life within a decade unless the global community makes dramatic changes urgently.
In this Season of Creation, we are being called to take up our prophetic responsibility in love to spread the word and to transform the ways we are living upon Earth. We must acknowledge our failures to care for creation and embrace God’s ways.
Week Four: Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 27, 2020
In this Season of Creation, we have prayed over our calling to recognize the global climate emergency in which we are living and spread the word about the call to conversion and change that it presents.
The ways the human family is living on the planet, the ways our economies function and the values they serve are depleting and wasting Earth’s resources, creating great inequalities, suffering and injustice, and exceeding Earth’s regenerative capacity.
Earth is crying out. The poor are crying out. The existence and well-being of future generations is threatened. This all constitutes a strong and urgent call to conversion in all dimensions of life.
In today’s readings, we hear clearly from Ezekiel that this conversion is the personal responsibility of each of us. God will judge us in the end upon the choices we each make of how we will live with each other in the community of creation. It is never too late to choose God’s ways. God is always compassionate and forgiving, ready to teach us the way.
St. Paul reminds us that Christ Jesus is that teaching, is God’s demonstration of the Way to live: serving everyone compassionately and generously, not competing for attention, appreciation, wealth or glory, humble and self-sacrificing, even to the point of death on a cross. For this God exalted him, glorifying him above every other.
And in the gospel, Jesus warns that words, that simply saying the right things, is not enough. Our actions must show our conversion, a conversion that in these critical times in the history of our planet must be integral, a conversion to action in the ecological, social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of our lives.
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: October 7, 2020
As we come to the close of this year’s Season of Creation, we can recall its messages simply through the last weeks:
God has given us a mission to pass on truthfully the prophetic word given us about care of Earth.
We need to communicate that prophetic word without anger or vengeance, but with a forgiving heart, as we have been forgiven.
It involves a call to all of us to pay attention to God’s ways for us to live, Jubilee ways, in all dimensions of life.
Each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own ecological conversion, a conversion which leads to transformed ways of acting in creation.
Our scriptures today warn us that if the human community and its political leaders fail in this mission to care for Earth through the transformation of our cultures and political structures and policies, Earth will be taken away from our care. St. Paul urges us to accept this call and challenge with utmost seriousness but without anxiety, praying with gratitude, and opening our hearts to receive the gift of God’s peace.
Sister Pat Coughlin, OSB is part of a team of people who write homily helps for priests who want to preach about Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si available on the Catholic Climate Covenant website.