Respect for Creation. That the human family may know how to respect God’s design for the world and thus become ever more aware of the great gift of God which Creation represents for us.
Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 World Day of Peace message includes a profound meditation on the human family and the environment. “A family needs a home,” he wrote, and our home is the earth. Over many millennia the human family has obeyed the Creator’s commandment to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28), but too often with violence, greed, and waste. Our covenant with the environment should “mirror the creative love of God.”
The Holy Father emphasized that we are not to dominate, abuse, or exploit the earth. Instead we are responsible to protect and cultivate it for the good of the whole human family. We need to educate ourselves, he said, to achieve sustainable development and “solidarity with future generations.”
Through international agencies, we need to enter into responsible cooperation to “confront together the stewardship” of the earth, especially its energy resources. “The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short.”
The United States and other technologically advanced countries, said the Pope, face two pressing issues. First, we must reassess our high levels of consumption and the model of development that our consumption is based upon. Second, we must invest in the search for alternative sources of energy and greater energy efficiency.
The Holy Father spoke also to far-reaching economic and political concerns that are involved in our responsibility to care for the environment. “The emerging countries are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating.”
As we pray for growing respect for the environment throughout the world, let us also seek to enhance our own awareness of our environmental responsibilities.
Global environmental problems touch each of us personally. How can you better understand and meet your responsibility for good stewardship of the earth’s resources?
Genesis 2:15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.
Call to holiness. That through discernment of gifts and commitment to spiritual formation, holiness may be promoted among the people of God.
Why in this month’s prayer intention for missions is Pope Benedict asking us to pray for holiness among God’s people? What does holiness have to do with missionary work?
In his message for World Youth Day last month, the Holy Father reminded young people that “we can never separate holiness from mission. Do not be afraid to become holy missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier who traveled through the Far East proclaiming the Good News until every ounce of his strength was used up, or like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus who was a missionary even though she never left the Carmelite convent. Both of these are ‘Patrons of the Missions.’
“Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.”
Nor is holiness for missionaries alone. Everyone in the Church is called to holiness, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3).
We are made holy by Baptism, but we must grow in the holiness we have received. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must strive to put on mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and all the fruits of the Spirit. Holy people, said the Pope, “follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ, in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.”
It comes down to walking in the holiness of love, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:16). We are given the Holy Spirit to help us strive each day to show love to each person we encounter, even to those who oppose us. We show our love this moment by praying for holiness among God’s people.
Rather than focusing only on our sins, St. Ignatius Loyola suggests a positive way to help us grow in holiness. At the end of each day, recall specific ways God has used you today to show his love to others. How has God used you today?
1 John 4: 7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
From St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun