Today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. In 1989 the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Dimitrios I initiated this special day of prayer for September 1 because on this day the Orthodox liturgical year begins with a reading and commemoration of God’s creation of the world. In 2015 Pope Francis asked that the Catholic Church join in this special day of prayer.
In 2007 a proposal was made and accepted at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly to foster a greater awareness of the need to care for creation during a special five week period from September 1 to October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
This fits in very well with Pope Francis’ Universal Prayer Intention for the month of September. We are praying that each person “may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center.” Some may think that by focusing on the care of creation we are making the earth more important than human beings. That is clearly not the case.
The earth, creation, is the home of the entire human family. It provides what we need to live. Protecting the earth is necessary for the health and well-being of the human person. And this means every human person, for all are made in the image and likeness of God.
This is what is meant by “the common good,” which refers to the good of all people. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” #1907 states that “the common good presupposes respect for the person as such.”
Concern for the common good of every human being counteracts the exaggerated individualism of modern culture. In his encyclical “Laudato Si” #204 Pope Francis wrote: “When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.”
Concern for the common home in which we live is an essential part of reverencing human life in all its stages. Pope Francis clearly stated: “”Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (#120).
On this annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation we join billions of Christians and other people of good will in committing ourselves to pray and work for the care of God’s gift, creation—not just one day or five weeks, but always!