An Urgent Call to Care for Our Common Home
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic: all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong. Some were more protected or vulnerable than others, but the rapidly-spreading infection meant that we depended on each other in our efforts to stay safe. We realized that, in facing worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.
These are not new lessons, be we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: “Choose life, so that you and your children might live (Deuteronomy 30:19).” We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.
September is celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, an opportunity to pray and care for God’s creation. As world leaders prepare to meet in November at Glasgow (Scotland) to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and consider what choices we must all make. Accordingly, as leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, to examine our behaviors, and to pledge meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given to us.
In our common Christian tradition, the scriptures and the saints provide illuminating perspectives for comprehending both the realities of the present and the promise of something larger than what we see in the moment. The concept of stewardship (of individual and collective responsibility for our God-given endowment) presents a vital starting-point for social, economic, and environmental sustainability. In the New Testament, we read of the rich and foolish man who stores great wealth of grain while forgetting about his finite end (Luke 12:13-21). We learn of the prodigal son who take his inheritance early, only to squander it and end up hungry (Luke 15:11-32). We are cautioned against adopting short-term and seemingly inexpensive options of building on sand, instead of building on rock for our common home to withstand storms (Matthew 7:24-27). These stories invite us to adopt a broader outlook and recognize our place in the extended story of humanity.
But we have taken the opposite direction. We have maximized our own interest at the expense of future generations. By concentrating on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including the bounty of nature, are depleted for short-term advantage. Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us believe in ways that demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet. Nature is resilient, but delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it (Genesis 2:15). Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction. We must pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work, and use money, instead of selfish gain.
Season of Creation
About This Week’s Message
Each year, under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Father, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Season of Creation. It spans five full weeks from the World Day of Prayer for Creation (September 1st) and the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4th).
In the words of Pope Francis: “This time for creation offers individual believers and communities an opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocations to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork that he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation, as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” In this way, the Season of Creation is a time to give thanks, make amends, and brainstorm about practical ways to better care for our common home — planet earth.
In the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, we work hard to conserve energy and make our historic buildings as efficient as possible. All of the lighting in all of our churches have been replaced with LED fixtures. When necessary, old appliances have been replaced with energy-efficient models. And we do what we can to conserve oil and keep our furnaces well-maintained. Needless to say, we can do more and we can do better!
Earlier this week, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury issued an extraordinary ecumenical call for all Christians and people of goodwill to consider ways that individuals, communities (including faith communities like ours), nations, and corporations can work in collaboration to serve the common good, look out for the poor and most vulnerable, and protect our most precious natural resources.
This week’s message is a challenging excerpt from this urgent call to “listen to the cry of the earth.” In next week’s newsletter, we will share another excerpt. As the Season of Creation continues, let’s pray together and work together to better care for our common home!
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Season of Creation
A Prayer for the Earth
By Pope Francis
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness
everything that exists.
Pour out upon us
the power of your love,
so that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace,
so that we may live
as brothers and sisters,
harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue
the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
so that we may protect the world
and not prey upon it;
so that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover
the value of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every living creature
as we journey toward your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love, and peace. Amen.
Living the Gospel
Caring for Our Common Home
What Can We do?
Inspired by Pope Francis’ message in Laudato Si, each one of us is called to take concrete steps to care for our common home — from reducing consumption to working for social and political change. Here are some ideas:
Everything Is Connected
Care for one another and for creation includes understanding that “everything is connected (Laudato Si, 91).” Politics, economics, technology, and community involvement all affect the future of our planet and all humankind. How we might become more aware of our connectedness?
Small Changes Make a Big Difference
Get a reusable water bottle. Take shorter showers. Whenever possible, let’s bike, walk, carpool, or take public transportation. Recycle, compost food waste, and buy energy efficient appliances.
Institutional Changes in our Parishes, Schools & Workplaces
We can do better at conservation and recycling, perhaps use washable dinnerware at future parish events, and investigate possible sources of renewable energy.
Support Local Solutions
Local community groups around the country are working to make city, county, and statewide changes that can make a big difference in caring for our common home. Let’s show support for these efforts!
Spread the Word
Let’s contact members of Congress and share Pope Francis’ message of connectedness, concern for human dignity, and care for our common home; and let’s encourage them to take action to address climate change (Source: usccb.org).
Living the Gospel
Coming This Fall!
“The Way” was the among the earliest names for followers of the Risen Christ. The Way also appears as a biblical reference for the earliest Christian communities in the Acts of the Apostles. In addition, tradition teaches that both before and after his conversion, Saint Paul referred to the disciples of Christ as part of the Way. More than two thousand years later, Catholic Christians are still part of the Way of Jesus Christ. But as we all know, a life of discipleship is not a hobby or pastime. It is a vocation, a way of life that lays claim to our whole heart, mind, and strength. As disciples, our lives should be focused on and inspired by our faith in Christ, who is our merciful redeemer, friend, and brother. And as his disciples, we are called to reach out to those who need our help in growing closer to Christ and the Church.
If you are an adult (age 18 and over) and have not received all of the Sacraments of Initiation in the Roman Catholic Church (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation), then please consider joining “The Way”, a new adult faith formation program that will begin this fall. The Way (typically called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) is a seven month program that prepares adults to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. As part of this same program, we will prepare adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation (to be received at either the Easter Vigil or at a regional archdiocesan celebration). Other parishioners who have received the Sacraments are also welcome to join us!
Our group will gather for fellowship, formation, and faith sharing. As a community of disciples, we will learn together about the basic beliefs, teachings, and traditions of the Church; and we will explore the methods of prayer and spirituality that have brought centuries of believers closer to Christ Jesus and to the Church. In addition, we will talk openly and honestly about the challenges of living an authentic life of faith, hope, and love in the modern world. Our first gathering will be Saturday, October 9th at 8:00am. If you would like to learn more about this journey of faith and become part of a unique fellowship in preparation for the sacraments of God’s Church, then please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. Please join us! Spread the word! All are invited! All are welcome!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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In Memory of Daniel Murray