The Season of Creation: One Parish’s Response.

During the month of September, a group of parishioners from St Joseph’s in Peasedown St John, met (through Zoom) to respond to the annual celebration of The Season of Creation which ran from September 1 to October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

In response to this call, parishioner Terence McCarthaigh put together an inspiring programme to encourage us to participate. Terence explained that the Season of Creation is ‘an ecumenical celebration of the whole of God’s creation: the natural world’s glories and the ecological crisis, the need for social and economic justice in our relationships, and a call to work towards sustainable environmental and just life choices as individuals, families, communities and institutions’.

The Season ran from 1st September to the 4th October. It was a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all of creation. It is not a new Season. In 1989 Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I declared 1st September to be a day of prayer for creation. The World Council of Churches took this up and expanded it into a season lasting from 1st September, the Orthodox Day of Creation to 4th October, the Catholic Feast Day of St Francis patron saint of ecology. Pope Francis embraced the Season for Roman Catholics from 2015. This year 2020 enfolds the season within the 5th Anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home (critiquing consumerism, too often irresponsible development, lamenting environmental degradation and global warming, calling all people to take “swift and unified global action”) from 24th May 2020 to 24th May 2021.

As a small parish we came to the Season midway through and, of course, what we were able to do was further compromised by action to minimise the effects of covid19. However, under Terence’s guidance, we came up with a programme which was incredibly thought provoking and one which enabled us to participate in our socially remote world.

Our aims were to:

  1. raise our awareness of the environmental or ecological crisis, the economic and political systems already impacting on the world’s poor and marginalised and endangering us all and more especially our children and grandchildren;
  2. make commitments by way of changes to our lifestyles and our Church to ameliorate as best we can what has been called our “theft of the future” from the next generations.

We were encouraged to make use of the programme ‘Global Healing’ which is a sequence of films which can be found on the Bishops Conference website- www.cbcew.org.uk,  the BBC1 documentary Extinction: The Facts, presented by David Attenborough (which can be viewed on BBC iPlayer), Before the Flood, with Leonardo DiCaprio and CAFOD’S Care for our Common Home  https://youtu.be/OomC251Qab8

After watching each of these we shared our thoughts through Zoom sessions. During the month, Terence has peppered our Facebook page with related postings on creation spirituality, and ideas we can all choose to follow to help save the planet from ecological catastrophe.

One member of our group developed a parish walk for us, which five of us trialled on Sunday 27th September in glorious sunshine. The intention was to link the walk to the themes presented in the Global Healing videos and to create a walk which gave extensive views across the landscape, from the top of the Mendip Hills, but which was also easy walking, to make it as accessible as possible. The full circular walk is five miles, but it can easily be shortened. A leaflet has been written to accompany the walk, giving background information to the walk and to the twin crises of global heating and mass extinction. It includes links to further reading and action points to consider. In this way it aims to literally take the next steps we are challenged to take by the Global Healing videos, both individually and at the community level in the parish. As David Attenborough said at the end of his programme, Extinction: The Facts, “What happens next is up to every one of us”.

If you are interested in finding out about this walk, please click onto this link which will enable you to access the walk leaflet, with route plan.

The original intention was to open this walk to all parishioners, but this is not yet possible because of the current covid regulations regarding numbers.

We met for a final session on the Feast of St Francis. We hope that this will be the start of great things which will now help us all to put what we have learnt and experienced into practice. As CS Lewis said of the Kingdom of Heaven (loosely disguised as Narnia), ‘Onward and upward’!