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Environmental Liturgy

Geraldine Martin |  30 July 2015

Pope Francis has now released his long-awaited encyclical 'Laudato Si: On the care of our common home.' He reminds us that often we have misinterpreted scripture and ‘must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures'. He reminds us that ‘recent word summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment'.

At an audience on 21 May, 2014, Pope Francis also reminded us that ‘Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or even less, is the property of only a few:… we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude'.

SETTING THE SCENE

It is suggested that the liturgy takes place outside, a quiet space in your school grounds, or if on camp, create a sacred space somewhere in the outdoors. If the liturgy takes place indoors decorate the walls and the surrounds with pictures of nature and the environment. 

Ask students to be very quiet when entering the sacred space. Play an audio track of sounds of nature as they enter. 
 
If there are any Aboriginal children in the class or school or any Aboriginal teachers ask them if they would talk about their people’s love of country and the land before you begin the liturgy.

OPENING PRAYER

Reader: God, our Creator, you created the world in your image, we can rejoice in the joy of creation and get to know you through its beauty. Show us how to care for the earth, for life and for human dignity, not only for today, but also for the ages to come. Do not let our projects or our actions harm or destroy the beauty of our Creation. Send us your Spirit, so we can be aware of the value of life and of the planet.  

All:  Amen

READING

Reader: A reading from the book of Genesis (Genesis 1:24-31)

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind'. And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth’.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'.

God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food’. And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
 
The Word of the Lord.

All:  Thanks be to God.
 
RESPONSE TO READING
 
Reader: We are standing on the edge: our earth - the blue-green jewel we call home - stands on the edge of global catastrophe: her green forests give way to desolate industrial landscapes, her blue skies stifled by smog, her waters discoloured by pollution, her climate warming…

All: We are standing on the edge of life – the edge of death

We are standing on the edge: Earth’s creatures stand on the edge of extinction. Myriad species crafted at the hands of the Creator - delighting Him in their diversity - God’s creatures vanish from the face of the earth and are lost forever.

All: We are standing on the edge of life – the edge of death

We are standing on the edge: People look into the future with fear: standing on the edge of countries vulnerable to climate change, standing on the edge of economies plagued by inescapable debt, standing at the edge of hunger and thirst. Lives lived always at the edges…

All: We are standing on the edge of life – the edge of death

We will follow you, Lord. We will go where You go and see as You see. But when we see a world filled with pain, Lord, we ask you to give us hope. 

PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

Reader: Lord we ask that we will care for the forests as a habitat for a diversity of plants and animals. Lord hear us.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Reader: Lord we ask that we do not take the gift of clean air and clean water for granted but work to help the forests perform their natural services of cleansing. Lord hear us.

All: Lord hear our prayer. 

Reader: Lord we ask that governments will support research into alternative ways of sustaining rural communities, creating jobs for young people rather than driving them to despair because they have looked into the future with fear. Lord hear us.

All: Lord hear our prayer. 

Reader: Lord we ask that our Government commits our nation to lower fossil-fuel use and grow alternative energy sources that sustain this and future generations. Lord hear us.

All: Lord hear our prayer.

Reader: Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give our creatures sustenance. (St Francis of Assisi)

FINAL PRAYER

Holy God,

Earth and air and water are your creation, and every living thing belongs to you: have mercy on us as climate change seems to confront us.
Give us the will and the courage to simplify the way we live,
to reduce the energy we use, to share the resources you provide,
and to bear the cost of change.
Forgive us our past mistakes and send us your Holy Spirit, with wisdom, to help us change what is needed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Amen

If your liturgy is indoors you could download and play the audio track ‘Wake up to Reality’ by Alicia Grant or you can find it on Alicia Grant's Youtube channel here
 
Photo: Forest Wander; Flickr

 

Topic tags: environmentalissues, spiritualityandtheenvironment, prayer, liturgyandthesacraments

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