We are in the midst of the Season of Creation, an ecumenical observance extending from September 1 to October 4. Here is a quick round up of some insights and resources for this time.
What is happening to our seasons?
Paul Elie in a recent article at The New Yorker (The Coronavirus, Climate Change, and the End of Seasons as We Knew Them) opined that because of the pandemic we are less in touch with seasons — the school year start-up isn’t what it used to be, for instance, and climate change is resulting in a blur of how our bodies experience seasonal changes in the natural world.
I would add that even the seasons of the liturgical year have been attenuated by our shift to virtual liturgical celebrations. Did we really “feel” the Easter season, for instance? Not as fully as we would have had we been in the midst of all the physical signs of water, incense, fire, sacred chrism, and the rest, which inform us through sensory awareness. I wrote about liturgy as “an immersive experience” in the June issue of Pastoral Music (unfortunately, all recent issues are behind a paywall) arguing that liturgy is immersive by nature.
So what about the very recent, human-made Season of Creation? Some parishes surely keep it, but my guess is that we are still getting into a rhythm that includes this six week period. In the comment thread below, I invite our readers to share what you are doing for the Season of Creation that has met with success or which seems promising.
The theme of this year’s Season of Creation observance is “Jubilee Time for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.” I am reminded of Alan Hommerding’s fascinating insight from our “Seven Days of Creation” series that we ran last year at this time. Reflecting on the fourth day of creation, he wrote:
One of the ways we understand ourselves as being made in the image of God is through what we believe is our own ability to create. Perhaps it is time to re-think that, and to realize that we are truly made in the image of God the Organizer, and God the Rhythm-Giver. As “creators” we really do nothing but re-organize what God has already created.
Pray Tell will be re-upping this series on the Seven Days of Creation each day over the next week, so that you can revisit the connections between the work of liturgy and the wonder of creation. Watch the blog daily for these fine posts.
Praying together through this season
Last year, we had a post on Intercessions for the Season of Creation. You can find that post here.
This year, I’d like to highlight some new resources to add to your treasure trove:
This beautiful booklet (available on line, free) is put out by LISTEN: Laudato si’ International Scholars Tertiary Education Network, and was written by Fr. James E. Hugg, SJ – a lovely man who currently works with the Adrian Dominican sisters. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at a conference sponsored by Creighton University and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. There is much in these pages to enrich our liturgical celebrations during the Season of Creation.
Liturgical resources in multiple languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese) — intercessions, collects, and more — can be found here. They are written by Rev. Luiz Coelho, Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. Note that sin, in the form of “greed, negligence, and carelessness” is called out in these prayers.
To highlight just a couple of eloquent (and morally bracing) examples from this resource:
“(Remembering N,) Have compassion on all who suffer from trials and pain, especially the victims of natural disasters caused by our own greed and negligence. Grant them their needed relief and the help of your children in their daily struggles.”
(response) “Inspire us to love the whole of creation.”
“Receive the prayers we now offer you as a sign of our immense gratitude (for N,) for the many blessings you have given us, and above all for the life in nature that continues to flourish despite our carelessness. Grant that we may return your love in acts of charity and compassion toward the world that you created and all of its creatures.”
And finally, here are some simple intercessions for each week from Social Spirituality, a valuable Australian website written by Dr. Sandie Cornish, who is a consultant for the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
If you are looking for a style of prayers of intercession that is simple and direct, this site offers some pithy examples. Here are a few.
“For political leaders, that they may act to protect the web of life on the planet.
For local communities in cities and regions, that all may understand their place in creation and their impact on the web of life.
For our parish community, that we may nurture the human and ecosystem ecology of our common home.”
For Your Background
It always helps, with preaching and catechesis as well as liturgy planning, to see what pastoral leaders are saying about the Season of Creation. Because this is an ecumenical celebration, you can find a wide variety of statements on line.
I would like to highlight comments of Pope Francis on this year’s theme of Jubilee. He pushes out from concern for the earth to hope for a jubilee of debt relief for poor countries, and other themes of social justice. As his encyclical Laudato Si’ asserted, the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor must be heard together. What if our Season of Creation celebrations could be at one and the same time a call to ecology and a call to raise up lives of the poor who are hurt most of all by environmental degradation?
Pope Francis’s full statement on the 2020 Season of Creation can be read here.
His remarks are organized under the heading of (1) remembrance, (2) return (repentance), (3) rest, (4) restoration, and (5) rejoicing. It is pure Pope Francis, and a rewarding read.
If you’d like a quick summary, however, there was one reported by Vatican News. You can find that here.
Happy Season of Creation, everyone!