Sunday, 4th September 2022: An article by Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi that was first published in ‘The Sunday Times of Malta’.
Article by Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi
“Listen to the voice of creation” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year’s Season of Creation, which began on 1 September with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and will conclude on 4 October with the feast of St Francis of Assisi. This is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home.
In his message for this year’s Season of Creation, Pope Francis says that if we learn how to listen, we can discern in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. We hear a song of praise for our Creator, but at the same time we hear an anguished plea lamenting our mistreatment of our common home.
The sweet song of creation invites us to be attentive to God’s presence in the natural world, and to have a “loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion. As believers, we do not look at the world from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to all beings” (Laudato si’, 220). This experience reinforces our awareness that “all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Jn1:3). In this Season of Creation, we sing with St Francis: “Praise be to you, my Lord, for all your creatures” (cf. Canticle of Brother Sun).
The present state of decay and uglification of the environment merits the same attention as other global challenges such as grave health crises
Sadly, that sweet song is accompanied by a chorus of anguish. In the first place, the earth itself cries out. Prey to our consumerist excesses, she implores us to put an end to our abuses and to her destruction. Furthermore, there are different creatures who cry out. Countless species are dying out and their hymns of praise silenced. There are also the poorest among us who are crying out. Exposed to the climate crisis, they feel even more gravely the impact of the droughts, floods, hurricanes and heat waves that are becoming ever more intense and frequent. Our brothers and sisters of the native peoples are crying out. As a result of greedy economic interests, their ancestral lands are being invaded and devastated on all sides. There is also the plea of children and young people, who feel menaced by short-sighted and selfish actions. They are crying out, anxiously asking us to do everything possible to prevent the collapse of our planet’s ecosystems.
Listening to these painful cries, we are called to modify our lifestyles, our models of consumption and production, and our destructive systems. It is a call for an ecological conversion. The present state of decay and uglification of the environment merits the same attention as other global challenges such as grave health crises. “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (Laudato si’, 217).
The message of Pope Francis is so relevant for us Maltese. We should shoulder our grave responsibility. Let us stop destroying creation. Let us hear its plea and respond to it with deeds so that we and future generations can continue to rejoice in creation’s sweet song of life and hope.