August 31, 2016 — Last year, Pope Francis declared Catholics would join their Orthodox brothers and sisters and other Christians to formally mark September 1 as the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
The day should be a time for individuals to examine their lifestyles and the way they impact the environment, Pope Francis said of the prayer day, which was begun by the Orthodox Church in 1989 and gradually expanded to include much of the Christian world.
Speaking to the faithful following the traditional Angelus prayer on August 28, Pope Francis looked forward to the event, saying, “This coming Thursday, September 1st, we will mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation … an opportunity to strengthen the common commitment to safeguard life, respecting the environment and nature.”
This year, awareness of the day is gaining momentum as church groups and faith-based environment advocates have instituted a series of prayer services and programs for Catholics to observe the day.
Thanks to a campaign facilitated by the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network and the Global Catholic Climate Movement along with other religious organizations, the day will be extended into a monthlong Season of Creation, ending on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s meant to give flexibility so that prayer services can be celebrated on other dates throughout the month, and the campaign offers ideas for taking action to care for creation throughout the season.
“Sept. 1 is huge because it is the first time in our Catholic liturgical calendar we have an official day for creation care,” said Tomas Insua, coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. “It’s a massive opportunity to start getting Laudato Si deeply imbedded in our Catholic mindset and the life of the Catholic family.”
The Season of Creation and other efforts are part of the response to Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si', in which he delivered a call to action for people to be part of the solution to climate change.
Cecilia Calvo, who serves as Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice for the advocacy office of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, praised the efforts that Jesuit ministries in particular have made in response to the call from Pope Francis.
“I am thrilled to see so many Jesuit institutions already embracing and rising to the pope’s challenge to care for our common home,” Calvo said. “As we celebrate the upcoming World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, let us renew our commitment, along with all Christians, to answer Pope Francis’ call to pray, reflect and act to care for creation.” A full list of Jesuit institutions participating in environmental programs and activities, from carbon emission challenges to organic farms to environmental courses and more, can be found here: Jesuit Institutions Living Laudato Si’.
“Let us embrace his summons to a ‘profound interior
conversion,’ an ‘ecological conversion’ where each of us can live out ‘our
vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork,’” Calvo said.
On Sept. 1, Pope Francis’ special message "Show Mercy to our Common Home" will be presented by Cardinal Turkson in the Vatican at 11:30am CEST. The press conference will be streamed here.
Below are resources for individuals interested in taking part in the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
Read more about caring for our common home