WelCom October 2016:
On the ecumenically designated World Day of Prayer for Creation, 1 September, Pope Francis reaffirmed he regards environmental damage such as global warming as a serious sin against creation and wants Christians to resist it.
‘To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God,’ he wrote in a message released by the Vatican on Thursday 1 September. He pointed out the ‘sins’ against creation, which include humans destroying the ecosystem and degrading the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, and the contamination of the earth’s waters, land, air, and life.
Keeping in mind both the Holy Year of Mercy and prayer day for creation, Francis called for Catholics to add a new work of mercy to the traditional 14: ‘Care for our common home.’
The works of mercy taught by the Church are divided into corporal and spiritual. The first seven, which include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty and clothes to the naked, were directly taken from the New Testament.
In his message, Francis proposes ‘a complement to the two traditional sets of seven’.
As a spiritual work of mercy, the care for our common home, Francis calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’. As a corporeal one, instead, it requires ‘simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ and ‘makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.’
In August 2015, Francis wrote that an annual commemoration of Creation would offer an opportunity to thank God for the ‘wonderful handiwork entrusted to our care, and to implore God’s help for the protection of creation’. He reiterated the idea in his latest pro-environment message.
His message titled Show Mercy to our Common Home is divided into five sections, as an appeal for ‘people of faith and goodwill’ to come together in ‘showing mercy to the earth as our common home and cherishing the world in which we live as a place for sharing and communion.’
Francis also calls for the Jubilee of Mercy to summon in the faithful to a ‘profound interior conversion,’ sustained by the sacrament of Confession, writing that after a ‘serious examination of conscience’ Catholics can confess their sins against God and his creation.
‘Let us repent of the harm we are doing to our common home,’ Francis writes. ‘Examining our consciences, repentance and confession, will lead to a firm purpose to make amendments and take an attitude more respectful of creation.’
Quoting Laudato Si’, Francis gives several suggestions: ‘Avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices.’
Calling on world leaders to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations Development Goals – and society to demand they be applied – Pope Francis said economics and politics, society and culture can’t be dominated by ‘short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains. Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation.’
Spiritual Works of Mercy
Ngā Mahi Atawhai a te Wairua
Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, by which we help our neighbours with their emotional and spiritual needs.
COUNSEL THE DOUBTFUL
TOHUTOHUA TE HUNGA RANGIRUA
Do not be discouraged by doubt, Doubts lead to questions and questions are pathways to growth, discovery and maturity. Set your course on Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life; your best counsel will be the witness of your own life.
‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you…Let not your hearts be troubled…’ Jn. 14:27
INSTRUCT THE IGNORANT
ĀKONA TE HUNGA KUWARE
Ignorance is an absence of knowledge and not a sign of stupidity. Get to know your own faith better; become part of a faith-sharing group, or a team helping those enquiring about our faith; invite a friend to accompany you to Mass; offer to assist with religious education, especially for children not attending a Catholic school.
‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.’ Mk. 16:1’
KOHETETIA TE HUNGA HARA
We are not in the business of judging, but neither should we ignore wrongdoing. When you offer correction let it come from an awareness that none of us is perfect. Act on Jesus’ advice in Matthew 7:5 about removing the beam from your own eye first. With Mary, ‘pray for us sinners’.
‘…there will be more joy in Heaven at the repentance of one sinner than at ninety-nine of the righteous who had no need of repentance.’ Lk. 15:7
COMFORT THE AFFLICTED
WHAKAMĀRIETIA TE HUNGA E TAIMAHA ANA
Compassion, suffering with the suffering, is a unique and most blessed way of bringing comfort to another person. There are many forms of compassion: being present, being truthful, quietly listening, staying in touch, providing meals, looking after a family, paying for treatment…
‘Come to me, all you grown weary and burdened, and I will refresh you.’ Mt. 11:28
WHAKAKORETIA NGĀ HARA
The forgiveness we seek in the Lord’s Prayer is conditional on the forgiveness we make available to those who offend us. Pray this prayer while calling to mind those you should, but may find difficult to forgive. Remember that mercy helps us to identify with those who are hurting. Pray for the gift of mercy even as you seekit for yourself.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’ Mt. 6:12
BEAR PATIENTLY THOSE WHO DO US ILL
KIA MANAWANUI TE KAWE O ĒTAHI E MAHI KINO ANA KI A MĀTOU
Are you easily annoyed? Are you frustrated by the behaviour of others? Do you have a low tolerance threshold? Remember St Paul’s definition of love begins with Love is patient… (Cor. 13). Try to see the other’s point of view; try counting to ten! Reflect on the words of Jesus about blessing those who do you harm (Matthew 5:43).
‘…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.’ Lk. 6:27-28
TO PRAY FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
ĪNOIA MŌ TE HUNGA ORA ME TE HUNGA MATE
Prayer is the greatest form of wireless communication! It links us with the Communion of Saints – the living and the dead. Do not underestimate its power. Request a Mass intention for a deceased loved one, or for a sick or troubled friend; remember the anniversaries of the death of people close to you; include the gift of prayer in birthday greetings; offer to assist with intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful in parish liturgy; pray for those who no one remembers. Give thanks for life.
‘Father, I desire that they, too, may be with me where I am…’ Jn. 17:24