July is a wonderful month to appreciate the beauty of our planet Earth. It’s a time of summer weather, holidays and celebrating the simple things in life. Taking a walk in nature, listening to birds, observing bees buzzing on lavender, watching children play outside all make us happy. It’s a time to slow down, enjoy the harmony and fruitfulness of the natural world and take stock of what really matters to us.
It can also be a time to plan for the Season of Creation in our parishes and schools in the Autumn. The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration of prayer and action, when the ecumenical family around the world unites to pray and protect God’s creation. The season starts 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology who is beloved by many Christian denominations. It also incorporates harvest services, which have long been celebrated in the Autumn.
United around this year’s theme “A home for all?”, Christians will participate in initiatives of prayer, sustainability, and advocacy to care for our common home. Churches are invited to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before COP26 this November, but most will be in September. The collective impact of local church commitments and action will be presented to the UK Government at the Climate Sunday Service in Glasgow on Sunday, 5 September 2021 to demonstrate that the Churches are calling on our government to lead the way in delivering a cleaner, greener and fairer future.
2021 is also the year when the Vatican Dicastery of Human Development is inviting us to embark on a journey through the ‘Laudato Si’ Action Platform’, to be launched on 4 October 2021.
This Season of Creation will also be a critical moment for Catholics to prepare to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf ahead of two important summits, the UN Summit on Biodiversity in China (COP 15) in October and the UN Climate Summit in November (COP 26).
The National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN), CAFOD and Columbans are already preparing for Autumn 2021. Sample services and resources for the whole month of September and early October have been produced. The NJPN Conference 23-25 July, ‘2021: Moment of Truth – Action for Life on Earth’, will provide further formation and materials.
Nearly 100 parishes and schools have now achieved CAFOD’s livesimply award, but the focus on Creation in the Autumn attempts to bring many more Catholics on board for caring for our common home. The Season of Creation offers the opportunity for a common witness of the churches. And the time to do it is now, as the planet continues to warm, causing terrible suffering for the poorest communities on Earth.
Did you know that 20 July is National Moon Day, which celebrates the historic moon landing on that day in 1969? The famous ‘Earthrise’ photo of Earth from space – our first full-colour view of our planet from off of it, with the barren moonscape in the foreground – helped to launch the environmental movement. Human beings recognised that in a cold and punishing cosmos, we’ve got a beautiful Planet Earth that sings and provides the conditions for all life. Let’s nurture it and love it!