Monsignor Yennock on World Day of Prayer Sept. 1, 2015

Aug 17, 2015

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER SEPTEMBER 1, 2015

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, AUGUST 16, 2015

POPE FRANCIS IS FULL OF SURPRISES. ON AUGUST 10 HE ANNOUNCED THE “WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION”. THIS DAY OF PRAYER WILL BE CELEBRATED EVERY YEAR ON SEPTEMBER 1ST.

THE DAY OF PRAYER IS A FOLLOW UP TO THE HOLY FATHER’S LATEST ENCYCLICAL PUBLISHED JUNE 18 OF THIS YEAR.

THE NEW ENCYCLICAL IS ENTITLED “LAUDATO SI”.  “LAUDATO SI” MEANS “PRAISE BE TO YOU” IT IS TAKEN FROM ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI’S ITALIAN PRAYER “CANTICLE OF THE SUN” WHICH PRAISES GOD THROUGH THE ELEMENTS OF CREATION LIKE “BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON AND OUR SISTER MOTHER EARTH”.

POPE FRANCIS UNDERSTANDS THAT HIS NAMESAKE FRANCIS OF ASSISI RECOGNIZED IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY A PROFOUND TRUTH OF REVELATION: THAT YOU AND I ARE DEEPLY INTERCONNECTED AND INHERENTLY RELATED TO ALL ELSE THAT EXISTS. WHETHER WE LIKE TO ADMIT IT OR NOT, WE ARE PART OF A FAMILY OF CREATION. 

IN THIS ENCYCLICAL POPE FRANCIS IS SENDING A POWERFUL MESSAGE NOT ONLY TO THE WORLD’S 1.2 BILLION CATHOLICS, BUT TO THE REST OF THE GLOBAL POPULATION AS WELL.

THE MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD IS A MESSAGE OF GREAT HOPE THAT THE CURRENT CORRUPT AND DYSFUNCTIONAL WORLD ORDER CAN BE TRANSFORMED. 

 

IN THIS ENCYCLICAL POPE FRANCIS WANTS TO OPEN A SERIOUS DIALOGUE WITH THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY. IN THE STRICTEST MEANING OF THAT WORD, THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY INCLUDES ALL SCIENCES. IT INCLUDES PHYSICAL SCIENCE, SOCIAL SCIENCE AND THE SCIENCE OF RELIGION. ALL OF THESE DISCIPLINES HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY ABOUT HOW WE TREAT THE PLANET THAT GOD HAS CREATED FOR US TO LIVE IN. POPE FRANCIS WANTS TO HAVE A SAY IN THAT DIALOGUE.

THIS DOCUMENT ON CREATION HAS ALREADY RECEIVED WORLDWIDE ATTENTION ESPECIALLY BY SCIENTISTS.

REACTIONS CAME FROM HINDUS, FROM JEWS, FROM NON-CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS AND FROM ATHEISTS, TO WORK TOGETHER TO ADDRESS ALL THE PROBLEMS OF THE PLANET AND THE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT OF PHILADELPHIA DESCRIBED THE ENCYCLICAL AS A CHALLENGE TO ALL OF US TO REEXAMINE OUR SEWARDSHIP OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR LOVE FOR THE GLOBAL POOR. THE FOCUS OF THE ENCYCLICAL IS ON THE POOR, ON PEACE AND ON THE PLANET.

WHILE THIS TEACHING DOCUMENT IS FIRMLY ROOTED IN SCIENCE, THE FOUNDATION OF ITS TEACHING IS IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS AND THE NARRATIVE OF CREATION. THE ECYCLICAL IS ABOUT CREATION. 

POPE FRANCIS SPEAKS OF THE GOSPEL OF CREATION AND ARGUES THAT EVEN THOUGH THE PROBLEM OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS OF CONCERN TO PEOPLE OF ALL RELIGIONS, CHRISTIANITY HAS SOMETHING SPECIAL TO OFFER. CHRISTIANS HAVE A SPECIAL INCITE INTO THE WAY THAT WE UNDERSTAND NATURE AS A TREMENDOUS GIFT OF A PERSONAL CREATOR.

WE BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS SET HUMAN BEINGS OVER THIS GIFT OF NATURE. WE BELIEVE THAT AS STEWARDS OF GOD’S PLANET IT IS UP TO US TO TAKE A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT IT AND USE IT ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN.

THE POPE INSISTS THAT ONLY IF WE BEGIN AGAIN TO SEE OURSELVES IN RELATIONSHIP TO GOD, CAN WE BEGIN AGAIN TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE MUST BE GOOD STEWARDS OF HIS GIFT OF NATURE.

“FOR HUMAN BEINGS… TO DESTROY THE BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY OF GOD’S CREATION; FOR HUMAN BEINGS TO DEGRADE THE INTEGRITY OF THE EARTH BY CAUSING CHANGES IN ITS CLIMATE, BY STRIPPING THE EARTH OF ITS NATURAL FORESTS OR DESTROYING ITS WETLANDS; FOR HUMAN BEINGS TO CONTAMINATE THE EARTH’S WATERS, ITS LAND, ITS AIR, AND ITS LIFE – THESE ARE SINS. WHEN WE COMMIT A CRIME AGAINST THE NATURAL WORLD WE SIN AGAINST OURSELVES AND AGAINST GOD”.

CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY FOR CHRISTIANS BECAUSE CHRISTIANS CARE ABOUT THE HUMAN PERSON. FOR CHRISTIANS HUMAN BEINGS ARE EXCEPTIONAL.

THE POPE SAID IT IS INCONSISTENT TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT NATURE WITHOUT ALSO SHOWING CONCERN FOR PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE POOREST AND MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US, INCLUDING UNBORN CHILDREN.

TO QUOTE FROM LAUDATO SI: “SINCE EVERYTHING IS INTERRELATED 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).

THERE IS A GLOBAL DEBATE GOING ON AT THE PRESENT TIME ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING, CLIMATE CHANGE AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. THERE ARE MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL ON BOTH SIDES OF THIS DEBATE.

POPE FRANCIS WHO HAS SOME OF THE BEST SCIENTIFIC MINDS OF THE WORLD AT HIS SERVICE DOES NOT PRESUME TO TAKE SIDES OR SETTLE THE ISSUES OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES. HE IS APPROACHING THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE SCIENCE OF RELIGION. THIS IS WHAT HE SAYS IN LAUDATO SI:

“HERE I WOULD STATE ONCE MORE THAT THE CHURCH DOES NOT PRESUME TO SETTLE SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS OR TO REPLACE POLITICS; BUT I AM CONCERNEDTO ENCOURAGE AN HONEST AND OPEN DEBATE SO THAT PARTICULAR INTERESTS OR IDEOLOGIES WILL NOT PREJUDICE THE COMMON GOOD.”

PRESCINDING FROM THE QUESTION OF WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDITION OF THE ENVIRONMENT BY ABUSE, WASTE AND EXPLOITATION EVERYONE AGREES THAT WE ARE NOT TREATING THE ENVIRONMENT WITH RESPECT—THE ENVIRONMENT IS BEING DAMAGED AND SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT IT.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION, WITH THEIR DISTINCTIVE APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING REALITY, CAN ENTER INTO AN HONEST DIALOGUE THAT WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE.

THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER ON SEPTEMBER 1ST WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO REAFFIRM IN CHRISTIANS THEIR VOCATION AS STEWARDS OF GOD’S CREATION. POPE FRANCIS CHALLENGES EVERYONE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR GOD’S EARTHLY GIFTS. HE ENCOURAGES US TO PRAY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND PARDON FROM SINS AGAINST IT.

AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THAT GOD THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE BECAME MAN. THAT MEANS THAT GOD BECAME A PART OF THE CREATED UNIVERSE. HE CAME NOT ONLY TO REDEEM HUMAN BEINGS BUT TO REDEEM THE ENTIRE CREATION.

POPE FRANCIS TEACHES THAT THERE IS A SOLIDARITY BETWEEN HUMAN BEINGS AND ALL OF CREATION. AS CHRISTIANS WE CANNOT IGNORE ANYTHING ON THE PLANET. EVERY CREATURE DEMANDS OUR RESPECT AND CARE. POPE FRANCIS SAYS: “THE EARTH HERSELF, BURDENED AND LAID WASTE, IS AMONG THE MOST ABANDONED AND MALTREATED OF OUR POOR” (NO. 2). 

IN THE GOSPEL TODAY, MARY SAYS: “HE WHO IS MIGHTY HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME AND HOLY IS HIS NAME”. AS WE LOOK UPON THIS AWESOME UNIVERSE THAT GOD HAS CREATED FOR US WE TOO SAY:  “HE WHO IS MIGHTY HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR US AND HOLY IS HIS NAME.” LAUDATO SI.

JESUS SAYS IN THE GOSPEL TODAY: THE BREAD THAT I WLL GIVE IS MY FLESH FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD. IN SOME MYSTERIOUS WAY THE BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS UNITES US TO GOD AND TO EACH OTHER. WHEN WE ARE IN COMMUNION WITH HIM WE ARE IN COMMUNION WITH THE WHOLE OF CREATION.  

WE NEED ALWAYS TO KEEP IN MIND THAT, FOR BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST, THE WORD OF GOD WHO BECAME MAN FOR OUR SAKE, ‘THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT IS NOT DISSOCIATED FROM THE BODY OR FROM NATURE OR FROM WORLDLY REALITIES, BUT LIVED IN AND WITH THEM, IN COMMUNION WITH ALL THAT SURROUNDS US.’” (LAUDATO SI, 216)

“As Christians,”  the Pope stated, “we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation.” 

“We need always to keep in mind,” he continued, “that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake,  ‘the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us’ (Laudato Si’, 216).” 

“The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to ‘an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them’ (ibid., 217). FOR ‘LIVING OUR VOCATION TO BE PROTECTORS OF GOD’S HANDIWORK IS ESSENTIAL TO A LIFE OF VIRTUE; IT IS NOT AN OPTIONAL OR A SECONDARY ASPECT OF OUR CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE’ (IBID.),” HE SAID.

IN THE ENCYCLICAL, POPE FRANCIS ALSO SPOKE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ACCEPTING AND CARING FOR ONE’S BODY, SINCE IT IS THROUGH THE BODY THAT MAN RELATES TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND TO OTHER LIVING THINGS.

HE CAUTIONED AGAINST SEEKING TO EXERCISE “ABSOLUTE POWER” OVER OUR BODIES AS IF THEY WERE SOMETHING THAT WE OWN, SAYING THAT “MAN TOO HAS A NATURE THAT HE MUST RESPECT AND THAT HE CANNOT MANIPULATE AT WILL.”

ACCEPTING AND CARING FOR OUR BODIES IN THEIR TRUEST NATURE IS ESSENTIAL FOR HUMAN ECOLOGY, HE SAID, AND STRESSED THAT THIS ACCEPTANCE INCLUDES “VALUING ONE’S OWN BODY IN ITS FEMININITY OR MASCULINITY.”

IN THE FIRST CREATION ACCOUNT IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS, GOD’S PLAN INCLUDES CREATING HUMANITY. 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. HE IS CAPABLE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE, OF SELF-POSSESSION AND OF FREELY GIVING HIMSELF AND ENTERING INTO COMMUNION WITH OTHER PERSONS”.