By Hannah Brockhaus
In a message for Sunday's World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to make simple changes to their lives so that God's creation is treated with respect.
“Too many of us act like tyrants with regard to creation. Let us make an effort to change and to adopt more simple and respectful lifestyles!” he said in the Sept. 1 message.
“Let us say 'no' to consumerist greed and to the illusion of omnipotence, for these are the ways of death,” he said. “Let us inaugurate farsighted processes involving responsible sacrifices today for the sake of sure prospects for life tomorrow.”
“Let us not give in to the perverse logic of quick profit, but look instead to our common future!”
This is a time, the pope's message continued, “to reflect on our lifestyles, and how our daily decisions about food, consumption, transportation, use of water, energy and many other material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful.”
He encouraged, for example, replacing fossil fuels with forms of clean energy, and said indigenous people have “age-old” wisdom that can teach people to live in better relationship with the environment.
“Now is the time,” he said, “to rediscover our vocation as children of God, brothers and sisters, and stewards of creation. Now is the time to repent, to be converted and to return to our roots. We are beloved creatures of God, who in his goodness calls us to love life and live it in communion with the rest of creation.”
Pope Francis established the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation in 2015, to be celebrated every year on Sept. 1.
The day of prayer is in keeping with the theme of the pope's environmental encyclical Laudato Si and is seen as a sign of unity with the Orthodox Church, which established Sept. 1 as a day to celebrate creation in 1989.
Pope Francis said in his 2019 message that the period from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 – the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi – is being celebrated as a “Season of Creation.”
He strongly encouraged Catholics to pray during this “season of increased prayer and effort on behalf of our common home.”
“In the silence of prayer, we can hear the symphony of creation calling us to abandon our self-centeredness in order to feel embraced by the tender love of the Father and to share with joy the gifts we have received,” he said.
He urged letting one's prayers be inspired by closeness to nature, noting that St. Bonaventure called creation the first “book” God opens before one's eyes, “so that, marveling at its order, its variety and its beauty, we can come to love and praise its Creator.”
Pope Francis also recalled the dedication of many young people to the environmental cause.
“The young remind us that the earth is not a possession to be squandered, but an inheritance to be handed down. They remind us that hope for tomorrow is not a noble sentiment, but a task calling for concrete actions here and now,” he stated. “We owe them real answers…”
May Christians assume, “with prayer and commitment, our responsibility for the care of creation,” he said.