Contemplate, connect and care for our common home.
Each month, the Loreto Justice Network publishes an article with accompanying resources related to one of the Province’s five justice priorities. Here the Season of Creation is highlighted across these Spring days!
Our dogs, Scout and Jem, are loving lockdown! Leisurely walks, extra cuddles and ball throws when us humans are on stretch breaks in the back yard. Rolling mum in her wheelchair to our daily coffee is accompanied by bold magpies, bright parrots and a basking tawny frogmouth owl. We’re more conscious of virus particles moving through the air, clearer skies devoid of planes, plants breathing more easily. And on our daily one hour walk in Springtime Melbourne, our paths are lined with wattles, japonica, native grasses, camelias, magnolias and budding blossoms. Although I am painfully aware of the personal, economic and psychological cost being wrought by Covid-19, I feel so much more free in the knowledge that we humans are not the centre of the universe. When St Francis invites us to relate to our Brother Sun, Sisters moon and water, he is not simply using a flowery literary device. The text of this beautiful Canticle points to the essence of our interconnected cosmos and, maybe, to our very future as a whole and wholesome planet for all.
In recent years the Christian churches have celebrated a Season of Creation through September, culminating in the feast Francis of Assisi on October 4. Just as we celebrate the seasons of Lent and Advent, the Season of Creation invites us into the deeper mysteries of our faith through prayer, deeper immersion in creation and action. As believers in a tradition that honours God as Creator, we can use these Spring days to connect more deeply with a God who gifts us with all life out of love. It is a time to claim our environmental awareness and activism as a spiritual, not simply moral, imperative. It is a time for our Science and Geography teachers to claim their prophetic role in our schools, at a time for our business and finance teams to alert us to the extraordinary efforts being undertaken to use energy and water judiciously, a time for our teachers of the Arts and Humanities to help us open our eyes and ears to savour the complexity of creation, a time for our gardeners and grounds people to be honoured for their roles of stewardship, hospitality and pastoral care in our communities and a time for new student leaders to place care for our common home (our school environs and wider world) at the heart of their 2021 leadership mandate.
In Loreto schools’ Year of Verity the Season of Creation helps us to live out the Loreto ‘motto’ seek truth, do justice. We have so many resources in our tradition to guide us in this search for truth: the psalms, Jesus’ dependence on the natural world in his teaching, the Mary Ward Schools Compass, Laudato Si, Catholic social teaching on integral ecology, invitations to act from our province Loreto Justice Network, global Mary Ward JPIC Office and CJ/IBVM desk at the United Nations, and the example of passionate eco-warriors in our schools and communities. Our schools continue to respond with creativity and courage to the challenge of our blessed and broken world: including explicit environmentally-aware priorities in their strategic plans, providing time for staff leadership roles in this realm, supporting environment student groups and leadership, focussing staff spirituality days and student retreats around Laudato Si, encouraging engagement with the earth and gardens in the very young.
Province Facebook posts throughout September are highlighting the beauty of the gardens of our schools and the most recent Loreto Networker also recognises the vital role that gardens play in our educational, social and psychological landscape.
The resources below have been gathered by the newest member of the Loreto Justice Network, Francesca Torcasio-Barberis, to help us connect with the wider Season of Creation and Sandie Cornish’s short address to the recent Catholic Earthcare Convocation is a must-read for those interested in linking faith and justice, reflection and action in our Catholic Christian context. Environmental justice resources are updated regularly on the province website.
As we move through this Season of Creation may our senses be enlivened, our minds stretched, our hearts changed and our deeds sharpened. May our connection with all parts of creation be deepened in the spirit of this extraordinary text, attributed to Francis, the bringer of all peace:
O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory,
honour and all blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation
and especially for our Brother Sun,
who brings us the day and the light;
he is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
and for the stars
which you have set shining and lovely
in the heavens.
Be praised, my Lord,
for our Brothers Wind and Air
and every kind of weather
by which you, Lord,
uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water,
who is very useful to us,
and humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom you give us light in the darkness:
he is bright and lively and strong.
Be praised, my Lord,
for Sister Earth, our Mother,
who nourishes us and sustains us,
fruits and vegetables of many kinds
and flowers of many colours.
Be praised, my Lord,
for those who forgive for love of you;
and for those
who bear sickness and weakness
in peace and patience
– you will grant them a crown.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death,
whom we must all face.
I praise and bless you, Lord,
and I give thanks to you,
and I will serve you in all humility.