Preparing for November

“. . . hallowed be Thy name . . . .”

images-1Halloween, celebrated October 31st, was originally an “evening-before” celebration of those considered “hallowed” — holy, sacred, blessed, revered — and who are remembered November 1st on All Saints Day. The Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations in North America dedicate the entire month of November to remembrance of the dead. Originally, people limited their thoughts in November to deceased humans, but as our knowledge of the interconnections among all creation has grown, we realize that humans cannot be separated from the rest of creation.

Just as trees in the Northern Hemisphere lose their leaves in order to catchimages maximum sunlight during the cold days of winter, so all of nature calls us to remember that what seems like death is a promise of, and requirement for, new life. In the Gospels, Jesus reminded us that seeds must die in order to bear fruit. The image applies to humans and to everything else in creation. It was a natural process in the evolution of nature.

But that natural process is being violated by human-caused global warming (and other problems). Changes are coming too quickly for nature to respond to the threats. Death is now bringing extinction rather than new life. 

What about birds? 

Bald_Eagle_BeckyLundeen-AudubonPhotographyAwardFor years scientists have been telling us that the ranges of bears, butterflies, and many other species are shifting north and toward the poles; that bird migrations are changing time and course; and that pollinators are trying to adjust to new flowering schedules. These alarming observations are only the beginning.

The October 2014 Climate Change Report from Audubon warns that shrinking and shifting ranges could imperil nearly half of U.S. birds within this century. (Many of the children born this year will live that long.) 314 North American bird species are threatened with extinction. This includes the possible extinction by 2080 of the state birds of ten states and also of the American eagle. (For an overview of the report, see  climate.audubon.org/article/audubon-report-glance.)

Video: Unless the Seed Dies

In preparation for November and our remembrance of deceased loved ones, and more recently also of extinct species and ruined ecosystems, I am posting a video I made years ago for the Sister of the Holy Child Jesus’s monthly meditation series. (Because of that setting, it includes references to Cornelia Connelly, the woman who began the SHCJ. For a brief account of the life of this fascinating woman, see http://www.mayfieldsenior.org/about/Cornelia-Connelly.)bean-seeds_shutterstock_57850783

 

For the video Unless the Seed Dies, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf-z2Q82W2E

 

How do you plan to honor the dead and the extinct this November? 

Advent Group Resource

ADVENT

Although we’ve not yet celebrated Hallowe’en or Thanksgiving, some are already planning for Advent, Nativitythe first season of the Christian church year devoted to preparing to celebrate Christmas. Christmas, in turn, celebrates the Incarnation, the embodiment of divinity in Jesus’ humanity. (Cf. my Advent blog Nov. 17, 2013.)

The Incarnation is a Mystery that a lifetime of contemplation would not exhaust. Advent is the time when we are specifically called to deepen this contemplation. Many individuals and groups use various materials to help them use well this prayer time. My contribution is Advent in the New Universe Story. It offers one page per week to explore the place and significance of the Christian story within the 13.8 billion years of creation. Theologians and others are writing about the transitions needed for this integration, and these Advent pages contain some of their insights.

Advent in the New Universe Story will be available in French and Spanish as well as in English. The English version is now available.

The four weeks include the following:
New Consciousness, New Christian Understanding
The Cosmos Prepares for New Life
Evolving Understanding of Humanity’s Place in Creation
Incarnation Revisited

Universe-Sandbox-20130429-185438The resource contains suggestions for the convener, and the weeks include excerpts from that Sunday’s Scripture readings, information, time for prayer and for sharing, and suggestions for further reading.

I am indebted to the Society of the Holy Child for supporting my ministry and, for Advent in the New Universe Story, to T.J. Murphy for checking the science, to John Surette, S.J. for checking the theology, and to Nancy Frommelt, O.S.F. for fine tuning the text. I am also indebted to those who gather to use my resources; their feedback contributes significantly to future resources.

To find this resource, go to Advent on my website.

Prayer for Feast of St. Francis

If ever the example of St. Francis were needed, it is surely now
when violence is rampant, including among religious groups;
when the planet is in peril from climate change, extinctions, and resource depletion; and
when consumerism threatens to take over our lives and cause poverty for many.

St. Francis’ feast day is celebrated October 4th, though prayerful celebrations often take place before and after this date. For those who wish to use it, the following prayer is available on two sides by clicking here: St.Francis.2014.

Feast of Francis 2014: All Praise be Yours

“The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God”

Call to prayer 100_0359

Leader: There came a man from Assisi, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, one most unlikely to shed his wealth and prestige and future comforts,
1: one thought a fool when he overturned society’s expectations and followed the path of Christ,
2: one whose life of simplicity, awareness, gratitude, and peace has made him a model for countless men and women over the centuries,
3: one named patron saint of animals and ecology,
4: one whose name was chosen by a Pope to show the relevance of his life and mission for today’s world.

All: May our time of prayer deepen in us Francis’ radical spirit.

Let us give thanks

Leader: Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures gives praise to the One to whom “all glory, honor and blessing” belong. All: We, too, praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

1. Francis prayed to God “Most High.” Let us be grateful to know that the Aramaic “heaven” means the light and sound shining through all creation and that God lives and acts within it all: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

images2. Francis praised God through “Brother Sun, who brings the day, and light You give us through him.” Let us be grateful for all we know about our star, its place in our solar system, its story dating back billions of years, its potential for replacing fossil fuel use: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

3. Francis praised God through “Sister Moon and stars in the heavens.” Let17-kepler3 us be grateful for knowing that our galaxy contains billions of stars, and is but one of billions of galaxies, and for the awe we feel when we look at the stars: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

4. Francis praised God through “Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy, all weather’s moods by which You cherish all that You have made.” Let us never take for granted the gift of clean, fresh air, the use of wind for energy, and the people who strive to protect our atmosphere and increase use of renewable energy: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

water5. Francis praised God through “Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.” Let us treasure our oceans, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and aquifers, without which our lives would not be possible: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

6. Francis praised God through “Brother Fire, … beautiful and gay, full of power and strength.” Let us be grateful for knowing that humans in ancient times gathered around the fire to share stories that gave meaning to life and bonded community, andfire-at-solstice for memories of times around campfires and fireplaces with family and friends: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

 8057332-earth-with-translucent-water-in-the-oceans-and-the-detailed-topography-of-the-continents7. Francis praised God for “Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.” Let us be conscious of our kinship with every creature with whom we share our beloved planet and for knowing that we are both interconnected with it and totally dependent upon it: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

8. Francis praised God for “those who grant pardon for love of You; through those who endure sickness and trial; … those who endure in peace” as did Jesus. Let us remember those, living and dead, who have modeled for us forgiving, non-violent lives and those who labor to reduce weapons of mass destruction and the funds wasted on them. [Pause to remember; mention people if you wish.]: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

Let us be mindful

St. Francis also praised God through Sister Death — the kind “no mortal can escape.” He could not have guessed that humans would cause the sickness and death of the very gifts we have just mentioned. Of the needs of Earth, Let us be mindful.

Mention any relevant concern that weighs on your heart, e.g., Of the animals and plants going extinct, Let us be mindful.

Quiet Prayer

Closing 

All: “Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks. Serve God with great humility.”

Exchange a blessing of peace and all good.