Season of Creation’s invitation to rest and restoration for the Earth community
Christians around the world are coming together to pray and care for creation during the ecumenical Season of Creation which has just begun, running from September 1st, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Jubilee for the Earth is the Season of Creation 2020 theme. In the biblical tradition, every 50th year was a Jubilee year involving release from indebtedness, restorative justice and rest for creation. In a joint invitation to participate in the Season of Creation, faith leaders reflect on the meaning of Jubilee today, stating “As we live into a post-COVID-19 world, can we imagine new just and sustainable ways of living that give the Earth the rest it requires, that satisfy everyone with enough, that restore habitats and renew biological diversity?... We encourage the entire Christian family to join us in this special time to pray, reflect, and take bold action to realize a Jubilee for the Earth."
In a short video and letter, the Vatican invited Catholics to participate, emphasizing “As the world experiences deep uncertainty and suffering in the midst of a global emergency, we are called to recognize that a truly healthy recovery means seeing that “everything is connected” and repairing the bonds we have broken.”
Pope Francis calls for restorative justice and healing at a pandemic crossroads
“A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships.” Pope Francis, September 1, 2020.
Biodiversity loss, climate disasters, and unjust impacts of the pandemic on the vulnerable are a “wakeup call” and the “pandemic has brought us to a crossroads” according to Pope Francis in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. His message focuses on the 2020 ecumenical theme Jubilee for the Earth, connecting the groans of creation and the cry of the poor today with the understanding of Jubilee in the Bible as “a sacred time to remember, return, rest, restore, and rejoice”:
- to remember “creation’s original vocation to exist and flourish as a community of love”;
- to return—“to heal the damaged relationships that are essential to supporting us and the entire fabric of life”;
- to rest—“to find just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy everyone with a sufficiency”;
- to restore “the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships”;
- to rejoice “that faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world” and “that our loving Creator sustains our humble efforts…”
Pope Francis calls for a number of specific actions in support of restorative justice and healing damaged relationships with our human family and the rest of creation including:
- canceling the debt of the most vulnerable countries due to the severe medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19;
- focusing recovery packages, policy, legislation and investment on the common good and meeting global social and environmental goals;
- dealing with the climate emergency by limiting the global average temperature rise below 1.5°C and adopting more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions;
- restoring biodiversity by supporting “the U.N. call to safeguard 30% of the earth as protected habitats by 2030”;
- protecting Indigenous communities from destructive resource extraction and strengthening legislation “to regulate the activities of extractive companies and ensure access to justice for those affected”.
In his September 2020 prayer intention and video message, Pope Francis asks everyone to pray that we “take care of Creation responsibly” and “that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner”.
Season of Creation Resources for Prayer, Liturgy, Reflection, and Action
These resources may be used by faith communities, groups, families, friends, and individuals to participate in the Season of Creation. While events may be difficult to organize due to the pandemic, these resources can help with parish bulletin notices, pulpit announcements, intercessory prayers, or Sunday homilies on care for creation.
The Season of Creation website has an event list and free ecumenical celebration guide with prayer, reflection, and action resources including a 2020 prayer card. Several Catholic resources are highlighted including Jubilee Time for the Earth--A Catholic Liturgical Guide with homily reflections, general intercessions/prayers of the faithful and other suggestions for Season of Creation Sunday liturgies as well as a Prayer for the Care of Creation Holy Hour - Eucharistic Adoration.
The Catholic Climate Covenant produces a free Feast of St. Francis educational program containing prayers, readings, a short video, and suggested activities. The 2020 program, The Healing Power of Love in Action: Creation Care in a Time of Pandemic and Partisanship, can be used in virtual gatherings, with family, parish or other groups. They also have a prayer and worship resources page, including a special prayer program for every Sunday during Season of Creation: Finding God in the Wilderness
There is a free online Franciscan Laudato Si' and Integral Ecology Course with ten sessions beginning Monday, September 7th, and running until Sunday, October 4th.
Throughout the Season of Creation, the Missionary Society of St. Columban is releasing a 6 episode podcast mini-series called "Jubilee for the Earth" about the beauty of biodiversity and the threats it faces. The Columbans have also produced a 7 Days of Creation Reflection-Retreat.
The Canadian ecumenical Green Churches Network has a free Season of Creation in a Box resource which includes spiritual and educational activities as well as a calendar. This year focuses on wise and fair harvesting practices as well as pollinator gardens which help restore the land and share the harvest with those in need.
In August 2020 Pope Francis gave a series of four talks on healing the world and addressing the urgent issues highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, including social justice and care for creation—all available for reflection.
Take Action for the Love of Creation
For the Love of Creation is an initiative bringing together Canadian faith communities and faith-based organizations to mobilize education, reflection, action, and advocacy for climate justice. Members include Global Catholic Climate Movement Canada, Development and Peace–Caritas Canada, and Faith & the Common Good. This Season of Creation explore and consider participating for the love of creation in their recently developed actions and free resources:
Call for stronger action on climate change and COVID-19: As people of faith called to love and care for creation and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, For the Love of Creation has launched an e-petition calling on the Government of Canada to:
- commit to reducing Canadian GHG emissions by 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and invest in a just transition;
- honour the rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- commit equal support for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South; and
- respond to the pandemic in the Global South.
The petition is open for signatures until October 6th. Supporters are invited to sign it and share it widely with your networks.
Learn about an ethical framework for post-COVID recovery in this guide developed by Sue Wilson (Federation of Sisters of St Joseph of Canada) and Joe Gunn (Oblats), which they offer as a resource to For the Love of Creation.
Take a Sacred Pause for the love of creation with this resource for deepening our relationship with creation and including a reflection from Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, Gkisedtanamoogk. This resource can be used with individuals and groups of all ages and adapted to various activities.
- Join the For the Love of Creation mailing list to receive regular updates on campaign activities, events, and more.