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IN 2015, Pope Francis established September 1 as an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, inspired by the example of the Orthodox Churches who have observed this day since 1989. Since then, Christians all over the world come together every Sep 1 to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, uniting to save Mother Earth.
September 1 launches the start of the annual “Season of Creation” which will last until October 4 (Feast of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology in many traditions). Major Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican organizations join together during this Season to encourage the 2.2 billion Christians worldwide to pray and act on ecological issues during this time.
Christians or not, as people of faith and goodwill, we should be united in showing mercy to the earth as our common home and cherishing the world in which we live as a place for sharing and communion. – Pope Francis’ 1 September 2016 message
This year 2018, the theme for the Season is “Walking together”. We are invited to consider the Season as a shared journey to better care for creation.
Christian Churches are organizing and supporting hundreds of events worldwide during this Season of Creation, by collaborating through the ecumenical website seasonofcreation.org. Hundreds of prayer services across all continents have already been reported and many more are being planned, with lots of them being ecumenical in nature and with participation of local bishops and faith leaders. These actions are shining a light where it is desperately needed in the world today.
Will you join them? Your action matters. Help your community see the light of God’s love for creation. Whether it is a simple prayer service, hands-on clean-up, or a bold statement of advocacy, your Season of Creation event will be part of a big global movement to stand up for the sanctity of creation. But it won’t happen without you. Everyone’s personal commitment is essential.
The Episcopal Commission for Creation Justice in the different dioceses of Malaysia are focal points for celebrating this season through prayer and action. It’s not hard at all! A complete celebration guide, training webinars, and a community of support are available through seasonofcreation.org. Register your Season of Creation events on the website so that everyone around the world will be able to be inspired and heartened by your events.
Let our parishes and communities commit in solidarity to pray for and with creation, change to a more selfless lifestyle, and advocate to protect our common home. Some suggested activities for the Season of Creation in Malaysia are given below – the list is by no means exhaustive. These may also be carried out at other times during the year.
Hold Masses during the Season. Sample liturgies are available from https://seasonofcreation.com/worship-resources/liturgies/. Hold ecumenical prayer services, ecological recollections/retreats, a walk/procession for and with creation, a blessing of pets service, etc. A 3-hour Laudato Si’1 retreat template is available from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SYJ4n8ylJm4uiO-7raAvkEmgjC_Mt5xkGlq9_kX8qfM/edit.
b) Ecological education or advocacy actions
Examples include: gotong royong (clean-up); planting of local trees; composting; starting a kitchen garden; 6Rs workshop (Refuse-Reduce-Reuse-Repurpose-Recycle-Regenerate) including demos on making bags from old T-shirts, etc.; Laudato Si’ and climate change workshops/talks/walks; awareness campaigns; commitment rituals on becoming an ecological parish/BEC; stopping the use of pesticides or open burning on church grounds; starting a recycling centre; promoting the transition to a vegetarian diet; becoming tree guardians; ecological art or song competitions; advocacy campaigns on moving away from fossil fuels, stopping plastics/styrofoam, opposing deforestation, saving wildlife, saving rivers*, etc.
(*NGO CLEAR is organizing a clean-up day for River Moyog, Penampang on 15 September 2018 in preparation for the local observance of World River Day at the Pesta Rakit or Bamboo Raft Festival on 30 September 2018. Contact Winnie @ 013-8108822 for more info.)
c) Commitment to reducing our ecological footprint
Parishes, dioceses and organizations can commit to shrinking their ecological footprint by reducing their fossil fuel dependency to a minimum in the next 5 years through the following ways: reducing use of electricity from the national power grid (which comes mainly from coal) by say, 5-10% every 6 months; moving towards sustainable, renewable energy sources like solar; reducing new buildings and deforestation; refurbishing old buildings to become less pollutant and more energy efficient; using renewable building materials; moving towards green structures/buildings/compounds; etc. We also need to ensure that Church land, buildings, and investments are not directly or indirectly contributing to excessive greenhouse gas emissions and pollution through, for example, encouraging deforestation or the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in plantations; and supporting harmful industries like fossil fuels, ecologically harmful mega projects, cement, mining, industrial livestock, industrial agriculture including plantations, etc.
d) Joining the global movement for creation justice
Solidarity is strength. Form groups and partnerships to celebrate the Season of Creation starting this year and pray and take action all year through to “hear the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si’ 49).
Visit the Global Catholic Climate Movement website and sign on as a member (https://catholicclimatemovement.global/). Also, sign the Laudato Si’ pledge at livelaudatosi.org as individuals, families or organizations. – Clare Westwood/ECCJ Penang Diocese