The ecumenical Season of Creation runs from September 1st to October 4th, the feast of St. Frances, the patron saint of ecology. It is an opportunity to rejoice in the wonders of creation and thank our creator God. It is a time to ask forgiveness for all the damage human beings have done to our wonderful planet and especially to the most vulnerable who have done least to cause the problem and its disastrous consequences in the first place! It is a time to renew the OIKOS of God and to ensure that there is a home for all.
The Vatican Dicastery of Human Development is also urging us to join the ‘Laudato Si Action Platform which will be launched on 4 October 2021. This invites us on a journey of sustainability and integral ecology and has 7 goals:
- Response to the Cry of the Earth
- Response to the Cry of the Poor
- Ecological economics
- Adoption of Simple Lifestyle
- Ecological Education
- Ecological Spirituality
- Community Involvement and Participatory Action
As the weather becomes more erratic and as we continue to struggle with Covid 19 there is a real urgency to prevent climate change as more and more people and other species are suffering and dying, especially in the poorest and most deprived communities. It seems to me that we now have daily news of droughts, floods and storms happening somewhere in our world.
Here in the UK there is great enthusiasm for change as we prepare for the UN Climate Summit (COP 26) which will be held in Glasgow in November. Already a pilgrimage is underway from Cornwall in the south of England to Glasgow. Many believe that this Summit will be the most important meeting of the century; it hopes to see the largest gathering of world leaders and there is a growing expectation that Pope Francis will be able to attend. Governments are being reminded of pledges made to cut emissions at the 2015 COP conference in Paris and there are plenty of suggestions for new initiatives at every level, ahead of the conference. This kind of pressure does work; there is now a realistic hope that all of our Catholic Diocese in the UK will have divested from fossil fuels by November; recently our Prime Minister promised to stop funding fossil fuels overseas. However, this is not the whole story! The UK has cut its foreign aid budget and is negotiating fossil fuel development off the west of the Shetland Islands! We need to be very vigilant if we are to hold our governments and big businesses accountable for their actions. They have become experts at ‘greenwashing’ by which they can make very convincing arguments about their ‘green’ credentials.
‘A Home for All’ is this year’s theme for the Season of Creation and already, in the UK, many initiatives are being planned in parishes, schools, Justice and Peace groups, etc. These are centered around prayer, sustainability and care for our common home. Abraham’s Tent is being used as a symbol of there being a place for all of God’s creatures in the household of God and as a sign of hospitality for all, especially the most excluded.
In our collegial Assembly 2007, Infant Jesus Sisters acknowledged the ‘energy, beauty and harmony of the cosmos and responded enthusiastically when called to ‘widen the space of our tents (Isaiah 54:2) in order to embrace all of God’s creation.’
There is a great commitment to ‘protecting God’s handiwork’ (LS 217) and responding to the cries of the planet and of the poor, among the IJ family. Let us celebrate our good work and continue in our efforts to make our wonderful world a home for all in the OIKOS of God.
Margaret Walsh IJS (August , 2021)