Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica the Holy Father presided at the liturgy for the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, instituted by the Pope on 10 August and which will from now on be celebrated by the Catholic Church on 1 September, as in the Orthodox Church. Numerous pilgrims and representatives of the Roman Curia participated in the liturgy, and many people and communities throughout the world have responded to the Pope’s appeal to renew our vocation as custodians of creation.
The homily was pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household. After citing the biblical sources, from Genesis to the Book of Psalms, which describe the relationship between the human being and the world created by God, Fr. Cantalamessa went on to focus on the figure of St. Francis of Assisi and his “Canticle of the Creatures”, which the Pope chose as the basis for his encyclical “Laudato si’”,
“The saint’s words, which define the sun as beautiful, the brother fire as beautiful, the stars as bright and beautiful, are an echo of that ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good’, from the account of creation”, he commented. “The fundamental sin against creation, that precedes all others, is not listening to His voice, condemning it irretrievably, as St. Paul would say, to vanity, to insignificance. … Francis shows us the way to a radical change in our relationship with creation: it consists of substituting possession with contemplation. He describes a different way of enjoying its fruits, which is contemplating them instead of possessing them”.
“Certainly, Francis did not have a global and worldwide vision of the ecological problem, but rather a local, immediate view”, he added. “He thought about what he and, eventually, his brother friars, could do. Here too, however, he teaches us. A slogan currently in vogue is ‘think globally, act locally’. What is the point in taking issue with those who pollute the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if we do not hesitate in throwing onto a riverbank or into the sea a plastic bag that will remain there for centuries if no-one retrieves it; if I throw away what I no longer want wherever I wish, on the streets or in the forest; or if I deface the walls of my city?”.
“The protection of creation, like peace, is ‘handcrafted’, as our Holy Father would say, starting with ourselves”, he concluded. “Peace begins with you, as is often repeated in the messages for World Day of Peace; similarly, the protection of creation begins with you. It was what an Orthodox representative affirmed during the ecumenical assembly in Basel in 1989 on ‘Justice, peace and the protection of creation’. “Without a change in the human heart, environmentalism has no hope of success”.