Rev. Dr. Charles Rue, Australian Coordinator of Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation has been making Season of Creation materials available for parishes, schools, and congregations for many years. Fr. Rue was a guest of GCCM on 25 August and reviewed the 2015 resources, a series of 2-pagers, available online. These resources begin with the readings in the regular lectionary for September, adding recommended themes, greetings, prayers of the faithful, and dismissal. Boxes offer other views and insights. Thus it is called a Catholic Season of Creation.
The 2014 resources (for the four Sundays of September 2014) are also available online. They explore the existing Catholic Lectionary to help us remember God’s seamless gift of Life in all Creation and to help grow a better recognition of the natural world. See complete resource (PDF 9 pages). Each Sunday focuses on a particular gift:
Fr. Rue has drafted a number of resources on caring for creation, in Australia. He cited German thinker Max Weber’s observation that religion can either reinforce the status quo or challenge it to transformation. He also has drawn on the Young Christian Workers’ dictums: See, Judge and Act, which encourages Catholics to reflect on how our faith might be applied in our particular circumstances.
The earth’s prophetic messages are a constant source of prayerful reflection, and Fr. Rue has carefully maintained that care for creation should not be removed from regular liturgy. Fr. Rue mentioned the hope that the wider church might consider the Season of Creation in future revisions of the lectionary.
Fr. Charles Rue said he brings three books to his spiritual journey as a Catholic and to his missionary service as a priest: the environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, the Church’s liturgical Sacramentary and the Bible. He continued:
Pope Francis has given us a vision of the earth as our home, common to all peoples and all that lives. Our human journey joins us with the earth and all its systems. We are to find God present there. The Pope invites us to see anew the ongoing cosmic action of God ultimately made present in the mystery of Jesus the Christ. He invites to be converted to a vision of integral ecological.
The Pope suggests a central way to structurally implement his vision will be to have pastors lead their communities in a revised way of prayer. Each Sunday believers are nourished and challenged to grow in their faith. Fifty years ago the liturgical reforms of Vatican II made the liturgy easier to understand and filled it with a richer diet of Scripture.
It is my hope that liturgical year will be further reformed by celebrating a Season of Creation on the four Sundays during September, equivalent to Advent or Lent. The pastoral needs of ordinary Catholics led to the Vatican II liturgical reform, but a 21st century pastoral need is for Catholic communities to undergo ecological conversion helped by new liturgical reform.
Vatican II reform gives us an example of what an organised group of experts with the pastoral support of the bishops can achieve in a few years. If there is the will among Catholic leadership in our day, a collaborative effort can create an official new liturgical structure which includes a September Season of Creation. The new structure can help implement the Pope’s vision for our common home.