Monthly Catholic Social Teaching

NCEA is pleased to offer a series of service projects, prayers and activities surrounding the series of Catholic Social Teachings each month. The summaries and scripture references were taken from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

April: Care for God's Creation

We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored. (USCCB 7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching)

Explanation/Activity: Care for God’s creation highlights our relationship with all of creation, and our responsibility to make sure that creation has the opportunities and environment to grow. This is highlighted on Earth Day, which is celebrated on Sunday, April 22, but goes beyond just our physical world. As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si: "A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor...Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society." (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si...], nos. 49, 91). For this month, there are a variety of projects that a school or a group can undertake. Common projects like organizing a collection of things like cans or other materials that can be recycled, or maybe a group of students wants to organize an information fair on composting and start a composting project for the school. Older students could also clean a section of roadway or a park clean up. Going beyond simply projects benefiting the environment, students could put together an anti-bullying campaign or host some workshops on respecting wild animals and common pets.

Service Project Tie-in: Students could host a recycling drive, as mentioned above, collecting cans or pop tops for an organization like the Ronald McDonald House. Also, a school could host a collection drive to collect pet supplies like food, toys and treats and even money that can be donated to a local animal shelter.

Modern Tie-in: Issues like global warming, pipeline drilling, fossil fuels' effect on the environment, and the push for clean energy can all be discussed.

Prayer Service Suggestion:

Opening Prayer:
Creator God, you created everything and saw that it was good. We thank you for entrusting us with caring for your creation and ask that you forgive us for the times we have not treated the earth and the people and animals in it as we should. Be with us as we remember to honor you by honoring the many things you have created. We pray these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture:
Genesis 1:1-31. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters. Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day. Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other. God made the dome, and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened. God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day. Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the third day. Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years, and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened: God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day. Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth. Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female[f] he created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.
Reflection:
A member of the community can highlight how they see the good in all of creation, especially in the local community.
Reflective activity:
Community members sign a pledge to care for creation, and the pledges can be brought to the front of the prayer space, either as a collection (like would happen at Mass) with a large community, or smaller communities could have individuals bring them up.
Closing prayer:
Creator God, we thank you for all that you give us to help us grow and thrive. We thank you for the many gifts you have given us and the opportunities to take care of earthly home we have. Give us the courage to continue to stand up to continue to be advocates for our earth and all things and creatures in it. We pray these things through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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