Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
The Community of Creation – The Psalms
Psalm 104 celebrates our common life as creatures of God.
This psalm is a magnificent song of praise for the generous abundance of life and for the glorious diversity of creatures. God is recognized as the giver of all things and as the one who provides for all creatures, for wild animals, domesticated animals, birds, sea creatures and humans…this psalm first celebrates God’s cosmic role in the physical universe, and then takes up specific animals…Particular habitats are described.
These creatures are not dependent upon human beings, but are provided for by the Creator. All live only because God constantly breathes into them the breath of life. When God sends forth God’s breath or God’s spirit, the animals, plants, birds and fish are created and the land is renewed. Each of them is thought of as directly dependent on God for their existence and for their life. God is the one who nourishes all of them with food and drink.
Human beings are here seen as fellow creatures with other animals before God, but also as rejoicing with God in the whole world of creation and as praising God’s glory and wisdom revealed in God’s manifold creatures. Human beings are part of the community of creation before God. This is not a human centred (anthropocentric) theology, but a God-centred (theocentric) one.
Psalm 148 – in this psalm, all of the creatures that are addressed are seen as praising God In their own unique way. To think of a great river red gum, or a New Holland honeyeater, or a dolphin riding the surf, as praising God, is to enter a biblical way of thought in which we see ourselves as fellow creatures with others in the community of creation. It involves a conversion away from anthropocentric and exploitative attitudes, towards profound respect for the integrity of our fellow creatures before God.
Source: Jesus and the Natural World: Exploring a Christian Approach to Ecology, Denis Edwards, Garrett Publishing, Victoria, 2012, pages 21-25
The Examen is a popular way of praying and was developed by St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) ,founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). He suggested that his brothers undertook a daily way of praying by examining their lives so they could better serve God.
This small prayer, the Examen of Consciousness, is the heart of the spirituality developed by St. Ignatius Loyola and his followers. If practiced once or twice daily, it will help move you closer to the heart of Christ in all your thoughts and deeds.
St. Ignatius stated that the key to a healthy spirituality was to find God in all things and work constantly to gain freedom in your life in order to cooperate with God’s will.
It enables us to open our heart more fully to the will of God in our lives and recognise God’s presence in everything, as we go about our daily tasks.
This daily exercise he called the Examen and he suggested that it should be prayed twice daily– with the practice allowing people to hear God in their hearts and with the daily practice be able to discern God’s will for them in their lives.
(Adapted from “Examen of Consciousness: Finding God in all things” by Phyllis Zagano)
Making time for prayer allows you to fully feel God’s presence in your life and enter into a deeper more intimate conversation with Jesus. The Examen takes about 15mins to complete. There a 5 simple steps and the prayer can be made anywhere.The Examen is a simple prayer, a prayer for busy people who are continually seeking to do God’s will.
Jospeh Carver, SJ has applied an ecological focus to formulate a way of examining our relationship with God’s Creation through the following version of The Examen
All creation reflects the beauty and blessing of God’s image.
Where was I most aware of this today?
Can I identify and pin-point how I made a conscious effort to care for God’s creation during this day?
What challenges or joys do I experience as I recall my care for creation?
How can I repair breaks in my relationship with creation, in my unspoken sense of superiority?
As I imagine tomorrow, I ask for the grace to see the Incarnate Christ in the dynamic interconnections of all Creation.
Conclude with the prayer of Jesus:
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Ecological Examen by: Joseph Carver, SJ
Issues concerning the environment are constantly in the newspapers. The question of preserving and protecting both the natural and the human habitat is a critical one in our times and a responsibility upon us for the wellbeing of future generations.
As this is my first contribution to the newsletter I would like to offer some overview of our involvement in environmental matters from a Catholic perspective.
As Catholics our reflection on issues of ecological responsibility is firstly inspired by our Christian vision of human life. We look to the Scriptural teaching, particularly that which presents the explanation of the existence of the universe and the nature of human life, as the foundation to our approach to ecological matters.
The world is a place of beauty and harmony. It is good. Creation reflects the wisdom and love of God (see Gen 1:1-25).
At the centre and the high point of creation is the human being. Each person has qualities that raise us to a dignity above the rest of creation. We have an immortal soul, which is the basis for self-awareness and freedom, and is the ground for our inalienable dignity. We have indeed been made image and likeness of God. In the midst of all of created reality in its macro and micro realisation, human beings are “masters” but at the same time “stewards” (see Gen 1:26-31; 2:7).
The Scriptures reveal another important dimension to the relationship between human beings and creation. The Book of Genesis recounts the fact that man and woman sinned by disobeying God and in effect rejected his providential design for human life. One of the effects of this first or Original Sin was the breakdown of the original harmony of creation.
Human beings have to struggle with creation – with storm and drought, with earthquake and plague. But increasingly with technological development human beings have a capacity to “subdue” the earth in a way that can be of great advantage for human life but can also be the cause lasting damage to the earth. Increasingly we have come to realise that we can severely affect the capacity of nature to regenerate itself and be able to provide for future generations.
We are witnessing the growth of an ecological awareness across the world. It has also emerged among Catholics. With this greater awareness of the need to protect the environment has come the development of many practical programs and initiatives undertaken by members of the Church. This is good. We understand that the earth is a gift to us from God and available for our use, and we have come to a greater realisation of the need to develop a sense of responsibility for its fruitfulness for coming generations. We appreciate the importance of the relationship between human beings and the natural environment, which is not ours but rather God's creation. We see ourselves as being entrusted to guard and protect it.
At the heart of our approach to the environment is a respect for human life and the dignity of every human person. The earth and its resources are for good of humanity. All ecological decisions need to retain an orientation towards to the good of peoples, both living now and in future times.
As Christians we identify an objective moral order within which to articulate a code of environmental ethics. Such a code declares that the question of the environment is not just an economic or technological question but it is a moral and spiritual question. Such an ethic, inspired by Christian faith, fosters the principles of human solidarity, social justice, and responsibility.
In the light of this awareness of the moral and spiritual responsibility towards the wellbeing of creation we Catholics commit ourselves to developing an attitude of ecological stewardship grounded in the principles of sustainability at the human and natural level.
At the moment I have returned to Mt. Magnet ministry in the Murchison District W.A. The parched land is in stark contrast to the wildflower extravaganza I experienced last September and October. Through eleven years of drought in the once productive ‘Rangelands’ country, the pastoralists have extreme need to maintain the stations' biodiversity. One pastoralist, Mike Clinch of Nellan Station recounted to me the effect of the long drought. Mike's passion is to be a good land manager, planting perennial native grasses, utilizing every raindrop, collecting and propagating natural native seeds. Stock balance with regenerated and well rooted vegetation is paramount. Big problems are presenting as hordes of introduced wild goats migrate south destroying native vegetation.
So we pray,
Peace with You and peace with all, creation demands justice to all.
We are called to Conversion, to transform our selves, our Communities, our work places and practises, our nation and even our world. We ask forgiveness and in this post Pentecostal time we ask that the Spirit grace us with knowledge, wisdom, wonder and courage to act in partnership with your creation. We make our prayer through Christ Jesus, the Cosmic One. Amen.
Sr.Monica Sparks sgs.