By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
I called my husband Steve on a Tuesday night and asked him, with about an hour’s notice, to accompany me to a World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation event in Muscatine. Steve was heading out of our house in LeClaire for a trip to Clinton. But he said “yes” to my request, provided he could get back in time.
Steve completed his errand in Clinton, drove to Davenport to pick me up, and got us to Discovery Park in Muscatine with five minutes to spare. Kent Ferris, the Davenport Diocese’s director of Social Action and Catholic Charities, led the prayer service that hot muggy night of Sept. 1.
Pope Francis instituted this day of prayer at the suggestion of a representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who, like the pope, has a deep concern for the care of creation. The Orthodox Church has observed a similar day of prayer on Sept. 1 for a number of years.
Kent read Pope Francis’ letter explaining his reason for designating a day of prayer for care of creation. The Holy Father said it “offers individuals and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”
Celebrating on the same date as the Orthodox Church provides an opportunity to bear witness to “our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters,” the pope said. He hoped that the day would also involve other churches and ecclesial communities and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches.
The intimate Muscatine gathering attracted mostly Catholics from St. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine and one Methodist. We opened and closed in prayer. Kent’s wife, Lori, read a prayer from Catholic Relief Services on stewardship of creation that spoke to me. The prayer, titled, “May It Please You,” reflects on our appreciation for God’s creation and envisions our positive interactions with nature, with one another and with God. You can find it on the CRS website at www.crs.org.
Deacon Dennis McDonald read a psalm from Evening Prayer of Liturgy of the Hours that beautifully conveyed the wonder of creation. We also sang songs from recycled paperback hymnals that Deacon McDonald’s wife, Linda, brought to the prayer service.
Kent plugged a couple of events coming up, including Iowa Interstate Power & Light’s annual Faith in a Changing Climate reception scheduled for Oct. 8 in Des Moines. Keynote speaker is Father Bud Grant, professor of environmental theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and columnist for The Catholic Messenger. His talk is titled: “From St. Francis to Pope Francis: A Theology of Relationship with All God’s Creation.”
Steve and I were glad to have participated, to interrupt our busy lives with prayer in a small, ecumenical faith community. Later that week, while working on a different story about marriage and family, I mentioned to Steve that “date nights” are highly recommended for married couples. He responded, “That’s why I went with you to Muscatine.”
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at email@example.com.)