The second part of my title is a response to yesterday’s release of findings by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The full report, titled “Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services,” will follow later this year. Yesterday’s media launch included such snippets as “Nature’s Dangerous Decline Unprecedented,” “Species Extinction Rates Accelerating,” and “Transformative changes needed to restore and protect nature.” If you want details, start here.
Turning from the second back to the first part of my title, those words offers a different kind of vision of the world: “all you have created rightly gives you praise.” The words come from Eucharistic Prayer III in the current Roman Missal, whose Latin text reads: merito te laudat omnis a te condita creatura. A theme is sounded here that appears both in the Scriptures and the Christian liturgical tradition; it has, however, been dormant or occluded for quite some time. It is the notion of worship as a cosmic kind of activity, something that all creation, as response to being created, offers to God. The notion that all created things worship God appears, inter alia, in Psalm 148 and the Benedicite, in Tertullian’s De oratione (orat omnis creatura), and in the Liturgy of St. James, as well as the Te Deum, and the Gloria Laus et Honor. And yes, it is there in St. Francis’s Laudato Si’, and Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ too — and this is just a very short genealogy of a large list of witnesses.
Now, if one wanted to hold the two parts of my title together, may one not have to acknowledge that the human-made acceleration of species extinction — one million plant and animal species are at risk — is, among all the other very real damages and dangers, also a decimation of a communion of worshippers that has been sounding God’s praises since long before humans joined in?
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