In 2015, shortly after he released his encyclical “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis asked that September 1 be observed as an annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. That day has long since come and gone, as has the entire month of September. However, October has always been the month in which the great outdoors has called to me the loudest and I thought perhaps I would share with you some reflections inspired by “Laudato Si” and my own encounters with God through His creation.
This emphasis on the care for creation is not a new addition to Christian life. Yes, it has gained more importance through the teachings of Pope Saint John Paul II who said, “The ecological crisis is a moral crisis!” during his World Day of Peace speech in 1990. Following in his footsteps, Pope Benedict XVI became known as the “green pope” for his writings on ecology and his efforts to install donated solar panels on the roof of the Vatican; he also promoted retrofitting the papal vehicles to use alternative energy. Of course, we are all familiar with Pope Francis’ commitment to environmental stewardship. But care for creation did not begin with these modern popes. It began when God placed Adam in the center of the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it (see Genesis 2:15). Also in Genesis, God gave humankind dominion over all the creatures of the earth, sea and sky, and He told us “to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:26-28). The words “dominion” and “subdue” often cause trouble for us because we don’t understand their true meaning.
In the theology of Genesis, we were created in the image of a loving God who cares for us. When God placed humankind at the center of creation, He meant for us to care for it in the same way he cares for us, as a loving father cares for his children. From the beginning, we were meant to be stewards of creation, lovingly and joyfully looking after what God has entrusted to us. For more information about this, you can check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 373 and 2415-17.
Periodically in the weeks ahead, I hope to open up the “Book of Creation” that we find written throughout the scriptures and explore our role in it and how it can lead us ever closer to God. To be continued…”
Father Brent Crowe