By Karen M.S. Sablan, ED.D.
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os
In response to Pope Francis’ implementation of an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”, the Academy of Our Lady of Guam (AOLG) community united with prayer and song on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016.
The pope had made the announcement to the heads of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in 2015.
During this “Prayer Service for the Care of Creation,” Academy students, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered in the courtyard in the spirit of togetherness as one family united through Jesus Christ. They prayed, contemplating all that is good in God’s creation of the Earth and all in it that has been given humankind to care for (Gen 2:15). They sang thanks to God for his bountiful creation.
On a bright and slightly breezy morning, before resuming the school day, the students were encouraged to keep in mind the call by Pope Francis to do their part to overcome humanity’s ecological crisis by answering with a litany response: “May we live in harmony with the Earth.”
Christabelle Basto, Class of 2019, shared that sometimes we are too busy with things to do and that it was “beautiful to take time to pray to Jesus.” She said it was “cool” that Pope Francis would make a day of prayer where people are encouraged to think about who they are and the role they would play in recycling and protecting the Earth’s resources.
The prayer service can serve as a reminder that we become connected to God not only through prayer but also through our actions, such as becoming good stewards of the Earth’s resources. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Holy Father’s Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home, given as a spiritual and moral guide, is a new appeal to include dialogue on shaping the future of our planet or “Sister, Mother Earth” as described by St. Francis of Assisi (Laudato Si’1).
USCCB provides some guidelines on how all people, including Catholic Christians, can incorporate the teachings of the encyclical into their lives: 1) Change your lifestyle and consumption; 2) Live life more fully (a lifestyle that Pope Francis describes as being more “prophetic and contemplative” (Laudato Si’, 222); 3) Participate in international actions, such as choosing the lesser of two evils or finding short-term alternate solutions (Laudato Si’, 165); and 4) Engage in political action (Laudato Si’, 181).
In Laudato Si’, given May 24, 2015, the pope shared his appreciation to those seeking “to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest” (Laudato Si’, 13). Taking this a step further, in his message for the celebration of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” given Sept. 1, 2016, the pope said, “let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy [spiritual and corporal] also include care for our common home.” (Show Mercy to our Common Home, No.5).
So a question to contemplate in your life today: What can you do to incorporate Pope Francis’ proposed addition to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy (care for our common home) in your role as a steward of the Earth? To learn more, visit: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2016/documents/papa-francesco_20160901_messaggio-giornata-cura-creato.html