by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA 2023 Teacher of Peace
Next Friday, September 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of the Earth, through October 4 , the feast of Francis of Assisi, we observe again the Season of Creation. This quasi-official liturgical time compares with Lent in that it consists of reflections, prayers and actions in response to the dire and worsening situation of our Common Home, Mother Earth.
The theme for the Season of Creation 2023 is “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” words inspired by the Prophet Amos: “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (5:24)
To prepare for the season, it seems appropriate to reflect on the enormous gift we have from our Creator, Planet Earth:
- Life itself. As Thomas Berry, the outstanding profound and prescient philosopher of Cosmology and Ecology, held: God’s first self-revelation has come to us in Creation. The Creator has shared life itself in myriad ways – so expansive that the conscious human species can only bow in humble adoration of its marvels.
- Mother Earth. Our Common Home is the sacrament of Creation. She is beautiful, awesome in every way and points us to a Cosmos of worlds upon worlds in Space and Time which we have only begun to discover in wonderment.
- An environment of support systems which sustain birds of the air, fish in the sea, animals of incredible varieties – and humanity. Earth is an entirely congenial home for us all.
Perhaps we humans have gotten too used to this abundance around us. Perhaps we have to find new language to express, in however an inadequate way, the marvelousness of it all. Or perhaps we should just “be still” in wordless contemplation of this “fullness we have all received. Or if our awestruck silence becomes overwhelming, we can turn again to consider some of specific aspects of this Divine Gift:
“We are members of a vast web of life in which everything is connected with everything else.”
“We have received a vocation from God to live, thrive here and above all glorify the Divine Incomprehensible Mystery in and through Creation.”
“We might well celebrate a Jubilee Time for our Mother Earth – a time of rest and restoration for this Home which humanity is exploiting and even threatening with extinction.”
And returning to the contemplative attitude mentioned above, we are called to “Listen to the Voice of Creation,” its prophetic wisdom all around us, stretching us, urging deeper and more human acknowledgment.
There is no better way to conclude this attempt to situate the Season of Creation 2023 in the context of the overwhelming grandeur of the gorgeous Common Home we have been given by the Divine Creator, than to cite the Canticle of Creation written by St. Francis of Assisi. Amazingly this 13th century follower of God-Become-Human understood and celebrated this “first revelation of God.”
O most high, all powerful, good Lord God to you belong praise and glory, honor and blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your Creation –
and especially for our Brother Sun who brings us the day and the light…
Be praised my Lord for Sister Moon, and for the Stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens…
Be praised, my Lord for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness, he is bright and lovely and strong. Be praised, my Lord for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes and us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds, and flowers of many colors.
I praise and bless you Lord and I give thanks to you and I will serve you in all humility.
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and the 2023 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.