Catholics in Australia are being encouraged to participate in a first-of-its-kind week-long retreat in preparation for the ecumenical celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1.
The “7 Days of Creation Reflection-Retreat” has been prepared by Columban priest Fr Charles Rue, whose ministry has for many years had a focus on the Catholic understanding of care for the environment.
Fr Rue said the retreat is inspired by the leadership of recent popes, who have proclaimed the message of caring for God’s creation.
“Pope John Paul II in 1990 named environmental care as integral to Catholic faith and named St Francis of Assisi as the patron of ecological conversion,” he noted.
“Pope Benedict XVI reinforced this Catholic vocation. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ detailed the call to See, Judge, Act on care for our common home. Hear the twin cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.
“For the Church in Australia, the establishment of Catholic Earthcare back in 2003 was an important initiative and one that has helped foster a broader understanding of this issue across the country.”
Fr Rue said the retreat was designed to lead people up to the World Day of Prayer for Creation, so they are encouraged to start it on Tuesday, August 25. However, it could be prayed at any time during the September “Season of Creation”, which runs from September 1 until St Francis’ feast day on October 4.
“This collection of Scriptural texts, the prayers, suggested intercessions and explanatory notes are all original. No other retreat fostering ecological care has offered this format,” he said.
The retreat supplies templates for group and liturgical contexts, incorporating song, Scripture, prayer and reflection time.
Fr Rue said anyone looking to better understand how the Church calls on Catholics to care for creation in their everyday lives could read Laudato Si’, pray and “commit themselves to cooperate with all people of good will to care for the earth as our common home”.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Commission for Liturgy and the National Liturgical Council have worked with liturgists and musicians to prepare additional material to support the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Creation and other events in coming weeks.