Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made (Rom 1:20).
AIM: To explore the topic of creation as a foundational element of contemporary Christianity.
Our Intentions: To encourage a deepening awareness of
The interdependent nature of every aspect of creation; God’s gift to us.
Our role in a responsible stewardship of creation, for the benefit of all.
To promote in each of us the belief that no step towards the healing of our common home, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is too insignificant to make an impact.
Welcome and Stilling
Sharing Groups: Spiritual Conversations
Laudato Si / God in the book of creation
The Ecological Examen
Link: Music: Creator God by Margeret Rizza
Laudato Si’ On Care For Our Common Home
LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. (1)
What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. (12)
How, Where, When has God spoken to you through creation?
WHO WE ARE
After the creation of man and woman, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). This shows us the immense dignity of each person, “who is not just something, but someone. She/ He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving herself/ himself and entering into communion with other persons”. How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos. The Creator can say to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jer 1:5). We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary” (65)
How does it feel to be in the heart of God? How are you called to give yourself?
ALL IS GIFT
In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion. (76)
Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure”, (77)
Have you an image for God who is described here as tender, loving and who enfolds even the least creature with affection?
OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighbourhood square; going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves. (84)
Where have you felt your “true self”?
CREATION’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16).The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word but then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, joining His lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world. (99)
The New Testament does not only tell us of the earthly Jesus and his tangible and loving relationship with the world. It also shows him risen and glorious, present throughout creation by his universal Lordship: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20). Thus, the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise because the risen One is mysteriously holding them to himself and directing them towards fullness as their end. The very flowers of the field and the birds which his human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with his radiant presence. (100)
How does creation speak to you about the incarnation—the God who is with us?
How does creation speak to you about the resurrection?
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshments from her waters. (2)
How do you experience the “cry” of the earth?
At the same time, Patriarch Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.
What does God’s world need from me now?
When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn. (160)
How are you called to be a co-creator with God? How does this give purpose and meaning to our lives?
(1) Reference to the document LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil:
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod:
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning at the brown brink eastward springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with oh! bright wings.
God Saw that it was Good (Gen 1, Extracts)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was GOOD . . ”
God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water . . . Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” . . . God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was GOOD.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation:”…The land produced vegetation ….and God saw that it was GOOD.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night . . And it was so . . And God saw that it was GOOD.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” . . And God saw that it was GOOD.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures .. ” And it was so . . And God saw that it was GOOD.
Stewardship of Creation (Gen 1: 26-31)
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, over all the wild animals of the earth and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea and birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with its seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was VERY GOOD. (See CYB, page 25, Catholic Social Teaching, Co-workers with God)
The Suffering of Creation (Rom 8: 18-23)
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present epoch are not worth balancing against the glory that is about to be revealed to us. You see, the eager expectation of the creation is awaiting the revelation of the children of God. For the creation became subject to frustration, not by its own volition, but because of the One who subjected it in hope. Creation itself will also be set free from the slavery of decay for the freedom of the glory of God’s children.
We know, don’t we, that the shole of creation groans and suffers labour pains together right up to the present moment. Not only that, but those who have the Spirits’ first fruits, that is we ourselves, groan inside ourselves, waiting for our adoption-as-sons, waiting for the redemption of our bodies.
In the darkness of the still night, in the dawning of the daylight,
in the myst’ry of creation, creator God, you are there.
In the breath of ev’ry being, in the birthing and the growing,
In the earth and all its fullness, creator God, you are there.
In the homeless and the hungry, in the broken and the lonely,
In the grieving of your people, creator God, you are there.
In the tears and in the heartache, in the love through which we serve you,
In the anguish of the dying, creator God, you are there.
In our hearts and in our thinking, in the longing and the dreaming,
In the yearning of our heartbeat, creator God, you are there.
In the love for one another, in the sharing of our being,
In receiving and forgiving, creator God, you are there.
In our joys, our hopes, our healing, in awakening to revealing
In your call and our responding, creator God, you are there.
In our prayer and in our service, in our praise and in our worship
In your love that is eternal, creator God, you are there.
Complete any unfinished parts of what we did in the session.
Spend some time ‘reading’ the sacred text of nature. Choose a natural object or simply look at an aspect of nature in front of you. Find a quiet space to become still. Settle into God’s presence. Allow the object to speak to you. To pray in this way is to use Lectio Divina with the sacred text of nature.
Lectio: Use your senses to take in the object.
Meditatio (Reflect): Reflect on the object, taste it, sense it, let it speak to you, then ruminate on a particular aspect.
Oratio (Pray) Respond to how you are being moved. Speak to God.
Contemplatio (Rest), if it is given: a beautiful, wordless contemplation of God, a joyful rest in the Creator’s presence.
These four movement may not always follow a linear progression. Allow yourself freedom to move as the Holy Spirit guides.
At the end of your prayer, take a few minutes to journal:
Can you find one or two words that capture something of what this prayer and reflection may have revealed to you . . . about God . . . about the goodness of God’s Earth and the gift of life . . . . about yourself . . . . about your own place and purpose in the ongoing story of creation?
Has your prayer helped you to look at yourself and the world around you with a fresh perspective . . . to feel differently about other creatures and life forms that in their unique way express something of the Divine?
Has your prayer reflected in any way the words of Meister Eckhart below?
“APPREHEND GOD in all things,
for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God
and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature –
even a caterpillar –
I would never have to prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature”.