Pope Francis has issued a challenge for all Catholics to join in a first-ever "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation" on September 1, 2015. This date will be marked by prayer and contemplation as Catholics are asked to consider how they might live in greater harmony with the environment. The call follows on the heels of the Holy Father’s latest encyclicalLaudato Si’ On Care For Our Common Home.
Pope Francis announced this special day of prayer, which will be celebrated annually, in anAugust 6 letterto the heads of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. In the letter, he calls on Catholics around the world to live out their vocations as “protectors of God’s handiwork” and offer both spiritual and lifestyle contributions “towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.”
The pontiff implored all members of the Universal Catholic Church to unite in three spiritual activities on September 1. These include: 1) thanking God for the “marvelous works” He has given us, 2) invoking His help in protecting creation, and 3) asking for His Divine Mercy in forgiving the sins we have committed against the environment. Pope Francis asked for the prayerful intercession of the Holy Mother Mary and St. Francis of Assisi to assist the faithful with these three intentions.
The Holy Father also hopes that the "World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation" can highlight the need for all Christians to work together toward common goals. "It is my hope that this Day will in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesial Communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches," he wrote. The selection of September 1 is seen as a sign of unity with the Orthodox Church, which established this date to celebrate creation in 1989.
The entireLetter of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Establishment of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”can be read on the Vatican’s website athttp://bit.ly/1gZgoxX. In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has preparedPrayers To Care For Creation, as well as liturgical suggestions for parishes athttp://bit.ly/1Jhioh9.