Traffic crawled through the streets as crowds began to gather for a homecoming parade. Just a few blocks away, a couple-dozen people gathered inside St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Bettendorf to give thanks and pray for God’s creation. Two contrasting atmospheres — one, busy and outward-focused and the other, reflective and inward-focused. Two contrasting seasons — one secular and the other faith-based. We do not need to forgo the secular to embrace the sacred. However, all of humanity does need to take a time out to contemplate our role as stewards of God’s creation.
The Taizé Praise Prayer for Creation Sept. 21 at St. John Vianney was one of a number of events observing the Season of Creation in the Davenport Diocese. The season began Sept. 1 with World Day of Prayer for Creation and concludes Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. During this time, Pope Francis “invites us to reflect on the relationship between justice and creation,” according to a Sept. 1 statement on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.
Parishes around the diocese have responded in various ways: ecological Stations of the Cross, a fundraising effort for safe drinking water projects in impoverished countries, and speakers giving presentations on environmental-related issues. At St. John Vianney, participants engaged in Taizé, a service of short, simple songs sung in repetition, readings, intercessions and moments of silent prayer.
An excerpt from the opening prayer included this phrase: “Open our eyes to behold your presence and strengthen our hands to work for justice for all of creation, that the world may rejoice together and give you praise.” Among the intercessions: “For all victims of violence. For countries where the greed for natural resources lead to war. For areas where climate change has caused drought and conflict over water….” The concluding prayer asked, “Help us, dear Lord, to never lose that sense of awe and wonder and always to appreciate and cherish your wonderful creation. May God have mercy on us for not keeping the commandment to care for his creation.”
These prayers speak to our responsibility in God’s creation no matter the season — secular or sacred. Please sacrifice some time to pray, learn and take action, including through these opportunities:
- Just Living Festival, Oct. 1, 1-4 p.m. at The Canticle, home of the Sisters of St. Francis in Clinton (841 13th Ave. N.) The event features children’s activities and crafts, music, education about eco-friendly, equitable lifestyles and consumer choices.
- Transitus Prayer Service, on the eve of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at the outdoor grotto on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport (518 W. Locust St.). Call Deacon Kent Ferris, OFS, (563) 299-6107 for more information.
- Presentation and discussion on environmental theology — from St. Francis to Pope Francis, Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville (3000 12th Ave.). Father Bud Grant, a professor of Environmental Theology and Historical Theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport is the presenter. Participants will discuss Pope Francis’ 2015 papal encyclical “Laudato Si’” and address how people of faith are called to care for creation.
- Read in an upcoming issue of The Catholic Messenger a soon-to-be released update on the Diocese of Davenport’s Laudato Si’ Action Plan, launched one year ago on the feast of St. Francis. The multifaceted, seven-year plan aims to “help Catholics and our institutions, such as parishes, religious orders, schools and hospitals, care for our creation through our facilities, our curricula, our investments and more,” Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula said. Visit the diocesan website Care for Creation page (davenportdiocese.org/care-for-creation) for additional resources on prayer, education and action.
- Read Pope Francis’ upcoming apostolic exhortation, “Laudate Deum” (“Praise God”), his follow-up to “Laudato Si’,” scheduled for release on Oct. 4.
Bottom line, we have some soul searching to do, aided by the Sept. 1 statement on the USCCB website (https://tinyurl.com/f2vry3b2).
The statement calls us to embrace “An ecological lifestyle,” which “is not about pauperism or austerity, but an invitation to modesty and simplicity that increases our freedom to live as we ought regardless of our economic means.” Living simply “allows both the poor and rich to share in a common solidarity with each other and with creation, remembering where all resources ultimately come from. During this Season of Creation, let us consider our lifestyle choices and foster greater generosity towards those who have less.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor