Pope Francis has established the period from the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” on September 1 to the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4 to be the “Season of Creation”. In response to this, Church organisations are launching a spate of activities to encourage people to care for our common home.
In Hong Kong, activities like prayer meetings and ecological spirituality workshops reflecting on extravagant lifestyles and social issues like the Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation project are being organised. These activities are in response to Hong Kong’s environmental issues and today there is a greater sense of awareness among local citizens.
The task of protecting humankind’s common home has become more urgent than ever. The Amazon rainforest wildfires have accelerated the global warming crisis. The wildfires were allegedly linked to deforestation to clear land for livestock so as to satisfy the increasing consumption of meat around the world. Modern human daily habits have led to a continuous increase of carbon emission, affecting the safety of creation.
Thus, ecological crisis urge us to reflect on our relationship with creation. With regard to the environmental protection forces which maintain social cohesion and reconciliate us with nature, Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Letter Laudato si, has called on people to “ecological conversion”.
This conversion invites us to unite environmental protection action with charity, and to start by changing daily habits. The Justice and Peace Commission, in the previous Season of Creation urged people to practise one good deed or environmental protection action every day. Examples included praying for the poor and hungry, going outdoors to explore nature, nurturing a greater love for all since childhood, learning from and making friends with nature, and to manifest St Francis of Assisi’s charism: be minor and in the bond of fraternity.
The process of conversion demands us to care for disadvantaged. Faced with shortage of resources due to ecological and climate crises, the poor are the first ones to suffer. In Hong Kong, the living expenses are getting higher and the food prices are rocketing. Christian faith reminds us to share and care for our needy brethren. This care does not mean that we set aside the surplus from abundance; instead we should share generously while in abstinence and self-denial.
Prayer, acts of charity and self-denial are the pillars of Christian life. Among these three, self-denial is a good remedy to fight excessive consumption and wastage of natural resources. This reminds us to distinguish “need” from “want”, and to remember those in poverty. In addition, the encyclical on ecology has quoted Patriarch Bartholomew as saying that we must learn “to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.
Earlier on, a survey conducted by a Church organisation found that the environmental protection actions by parishes were focused on caring for the disadvantaged and energy conservation, while actions of experiencing nature were few. In fact, if charity is practised from childhood, this can promote a culture of caring for nature.
Let us continue to pray for creation so as to enable humankind to reconcile with nature through acts of charity. SE