Today’s the day! Today is the day set aside for special prayer, awareness and action on behalf of creation. The Orthodox Church has been commemorating this day since 1989. The rest of us Christians are taking a little longer to wake up to our need for practical conversion and spiritual transformation in the way we relate to God’s good creation. Better late than never!
Yesterday’s post suggested a few ways to make our commemoration of the day less “churchy” and more “grounded.” It was based in the conviction that we don’t need more prayer; we need more action. We don’t pray ourselves into right action as much as much as our actions ground our prayer (more about that later).
Here is another simple exercise… I just completed it myself. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home points to numerous ways world organizations, nations and communities can move forward and the way individuals — believers and people of good will — might see, think, feel and act.
Here is the fruit of my personal “examination of conscience.” In other words, where I felt a special need or where I felt I could immediately adapt my behavior. Again, they are what I am attending to today — you will certainly come up with a different assortment. The references in parentheses indicate paragraphs in the encyclical where more is said about this suggestion:
— Reduce, reuse, recycle. Preserve resources, use them more efficiently, moderate consumption and limit use of non-renewable resources. (22, 192)
— Stop blaming problems on population growth. The real threat is excessive consumerism and waste. (50)
— For genuine change, put the common good first. (54)
— Be consistent. Pro-life, environmental and social justice movements are all connected. (91, 120)
— Make public transportation a priority and a more pleasant experience. (153)
— Plant a tree. Take mass transit. Car pool. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Chilly? Wear a sweater. Little things add up. (211)
More than anything, here’s my ultimate favorite. It’s a practice we had at home as kids. What a transformational consequence of prayer it would be if we paused to thank the Creator for our food, for the earth that provided it and for the laborers who brought it to our table.
— Say grace before meals. (227)
In all honesty, here’s the one that presents the biggest immediate challenge at our house. We are much too tied to our iPhones, iPads and “mindless television”:
— End the tyranny of the screen, information overload and distractions. Watch out for media-induced melancholy and isolation. Cultivate real relationships with others. (47)
Above I claimed that we don’t pray ourselves into right action as much as much as our actions ground our prayer. I promised more about that later. Well, here goes! This is the suggestion (admonition?) that calls for my deepest personal conversion:
— Get down from the ivory tower and stop the rhetoric. Get to know the poor and suffering; it will wake up a numbed conscience and inspire real action. (49)
We will all mark this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in ways that are meaningful and practical for each of us. If you’d care to reflect on the forty or so suggestions that come from Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, you can access the list [here].