REFLECTIONS for CREATION TIME

Praying with the Gospels, case studies & Laudato Si'

Introduction: CREATION TIME
 
This booklet builds on the experience of ‘Mercy and Our Common Home’ that was produced for Lent 2016.  This new version is inspired by the notion of CREATION TIME that started in the Orthodox Church in 1989 and which has been supported by a growing number of churches across Europe since then.  The European Christian Environmental Network has urged churches to adopt Creation Time from September 1st to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4th.  We hope that this booklet will become part of the resources that brings this ecumenical initiative into the RC church.
 
Ecumenism is dear to Pope Francis and extensive quotations from the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew were a striking feature of ‘Laudato Si’ which is now seen as one of the most influential documents of recent times.
 
This new resource follows the format of the Lenten resource “Mercy and our Common Home”.  Participating groups appreciated the combination of Sunday Gospel readings, excerpts from the encyclical “Laudato Si', case studies from home and overseas, questions to guide discussion, and opportunities to ‘See – Judge – Act’ in the Year of Mercy.
 
This booklet contains five sessions designed for group use: either an existing group or by a new group brought together to follow the course.  
 
While we recommend that they are used together, each of these hour long sessions can stand on its own. Each one draws upon the Gospel readings of the Creation Time Sundays. 
 
All five sessions look at the Gospel in the context of today’s world.  The questions for reflection are intended to provoke action.  The course invites people to come together and apply this new perspective in our own situation.  We have kept the reference to the works of mercy.

 

The introduction of Creation Time to the liturgical calendar gives a fresh emphasis to the theology that inspired Laudato Si. It reminds us that we are called to a new way of looking at the world and our place in it.
 
“That is why the Church sets before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love”.  So­cial love is the key to authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – polit­ical, economic and cultural – must be given re­newed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity”. LS 231
 
The materials are free to down load from the Liverpool Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission on the website www.liverpool-catholic.
 
Hard copies are available at a charge that covers costs.
 
The Commission can offer training if it is needed in conjunction with CAFOD Liverpool.  For further details contact:
Steve Atherton on 0151 522 1080 or s.atherton@rcaol.co.uk 
Ged Edwards on 0151 228 4028 or gedwards@cafod.org.uk

 

SESSION 1
 
The Cost of Discipleship
 
Opening Prayer (from Laudato Si)
 
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
 
Reading: Gospel for the 23rd Sunday of year C   Luke 14: 25-33
25Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. 26‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone w27ho does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
“And indeed, 28which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost, to see if he had enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him, 30saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” 31Or again, what king marching to wage war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? 32If not, then while the other king is still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. 33So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.
 
Reflection:  This Gospel reading is about priorities.
·       What does discipleship look like today?
·       What difference does discipleship make to your life?
·       What are your priorities?
 
Case Study – Michel’s story
 
In 2015, CAFOD’s Country Representative for Niger, Michel Mondengele, visited the UK to raise awareness of CAFOD’s work.  While he was in Liverpool, he met with the Justice and Peace Commission to talk about the experience of living in Niger.  Michel told us that Niger is a stable democratic country, unlike its neighbours which are beset by terrorism and war.  In 2014, 200,000 people had fled Mali and Nigeria and come into Niger as refugees from the violence.  How could they cope? 
 
The reaction of the local people was not to refuse help nor to close their doors but to open them, and to share what little they had with the newcomers. 
This is all the more remarkable as Niger is, according to the UN, 188th out of 188 on its Human Development Index. Niger is the poorest country on Earth. 
 
As a result of climate change, its harvests have failed in five of the last ten years, but people still shared what little they had.
 
The UN reports that in 2015, 65 million people worldwide (the same number as everyone in the UK) were displaced from their homes as a result of conflict or climate change.  86% of them found refuge - not in the West - but in the poorer developing nations. 
 
Discussion What do you think our response should be as disciples?
 
Case study: Refugees
 
Some parts of the media suggest that we take more than our fair share of asylum seekers and refugees but the facts tell a different story.  The diagram on the left of this paragraph shows the number of asylum seekers and refugees as a proportion of the total population.  It is shocking to see how few there are in the UK in comparison with some of the poorest countries in the world.
 
What makes it even more surprising is that most of us have migrants in our fairly recent ancestry, whether Irish or otherwise, and yet hatred and fear of migrants was a telling feature of the recent referendum campaign and a key argument for Brexit. 
 
While the world has been watching the conflicts in the Middle East, other governments have taken the opportunity to continue to oppress either all, or part of their populations.  Some examples:
 
Eritrea was described as having “Possibly the world’s worst human rights record ”UNHCR report 8th June 2015  with torture, extra judicial killing, and forced conscription.
 
In Sudan, the genocide in the Darfur region continues, with Sudanese of non Arab origin being subjected to ethnic cleansing.
 
In Pakistan there are difficulties in Taliban controlled areas, as well as attacks on various faith and ethnic groups e.g. Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs
 
Sub Saharan Africa has a number of very unstable regimes e.g. Mali, Gambia, and DR Congo.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
From Laudato Si:
#9   ... the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms ... replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”. As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.
 
#13 The urgent challenge to protect our com­mon home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particu­lar appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmen­tal degradation on the lives of the world’s poor­est. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better fu­ture without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
          – How challenging are the Pope’s words?
 
 
Action: Where do we go from here?
 
How can we respond to what we have heard from the Gospel, from Laudato Si and from the lived stories?
 
Closing prayer (From Laudato Si)
 
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
Amen.
 
 
SESSION 2
 
Recovery
                                                                                                                                                                                       
Opening Prayer (From Laudato Si)
 
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
 
Reading: Gospel for the 24th Sunday of year C Luke 15:1-10
15The tax-collectors and sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, a2nd the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man,” they said, “welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he spoke this parable to them:
4‘Which man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it?  And w5hen he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then w6hen he got home, call together his friends and neighbours?  “Rejoice with me,” he would say, “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way7, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.
 
8 ‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas,* would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, w9hen she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours?  “Rejoice with me” she would say, “I have found the drachma I lost.”  In the same way10, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’
 
Reflection:  This Gospel reading celebrates the recovery of what was lost.
·       What other reactions were possible?
·       What else does it bring to mind?
·       Is anything lost in our society?
 
Case Study: Fred’s story: Liberia in West Africa

I’ve always been keen on sport.  I ran a Youth Football team and was a scout for Burnley Football Club. When an opportunity came up to visit CAFOD partners in Liberia - and it involved football, I jumped at the chance!  We went to the capital Monrovia and worked with CAFOD’s partner on the ground there, Don Bosco Homes.  Over a 6-week period, boys aged 7 to 17, mainly street children who had been child soldiers, came to try and put the past behind them, improve themselves and make a new future. 
They were there because they’d handed in their guns hoping that at the end of the six weeks they would be given a little money to start their own basic business, like a stall on the market, and make a new start.  Many of them were addicted to drugs when they got there because they’d been given them to make them forget their fear when they were fighting, and had bad withdrawal symptoms but they got over the worst.  They started learning to read, write and had their first go at maths.  It was great to see their enthusiasm and after six weeks they didn’t want to go back to fighting.
But what they were most enthusiastic about was football, and especially the English Premier League.  So they were so keen to practise their skills and it was easy to get them interested in better things and develop team work.  We’d done a fair bit of coaching by the end.   And then there was a tournament for four teams that we got involved in and the enthusiasm and atmosphere was electric - I’ll never forget it!  There were about 1,000 people watching and the international Liberian star George Weah came to kick the whole thing off.   We had the strips with us from home and the kids quickly swallowed them up!  The pitches were all gravel but they dived in nonetheless and didn’t mind the cuts and bruises.  It was a great atmosphere made even better because everyone was so happy they’d made a new start too.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
Case Study: Rooney shirts
 
In the autumn of 2004 when the young superstar Wayne Rooney was transferred from Everton to Manchester United, his former club was left with a warehouse full of ‘Rooney Number 9’ shirts. These shirts couldn’t be left to clutter up the warehouse and were scheduled to be destroyed because they were an embarrassment to Everton and useless to Manchester United. They were rescued from oblivion when a local Everton supporter and CAFOD volunteer arranged with the club for the shirts to be donated to CAFOD who were able to arrange for them to be shipped to a Caritas partner in Africa.  They were eventually used as part of a rehabilitation programme of former child soldiers in Liberia.  It is thought that there were around 15,000 child soldiers involved in the country's conflict.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
From Laudato Si:
 
#16  ... I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human mean­ing of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.
 
#139 ...Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, and the ways it grasps re­ality. Given the scale of change, it is no longer possible to find a specific, discrete answer for each part of the problem. It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the in­teractions within natural systems themselves and with social systems. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to com­bating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.
 
Discussion: What strikes you?
 
Action:
 
Closing Prayer (From Laudato Si)
 
O  God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.  Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the earth and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Amen.
 
                  
SESSION 3
 
Priorities
 
Opening Prayer (From Laudato Si)
 
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
 
Reading: Gospel for the 25th Sunday year C:  Luke 16:1-13
16Jesus* said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. H2e called for the man and said, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” 3Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship away from me, what am I to do? Dig?  I am not strong enough.  Go begging? I should be too ashamed to beg.  Ah, I know what I will4 do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”
“Then he called 5his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” 6 “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply.   The steward said, “here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.”   To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?”   “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply.  The steward said, “Here take your bond and write eighty.”
The8 master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness.  For the children of this age are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.
9And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.  The man**10 who be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little will be dishonest in great.  11If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing,* who will trust you with genuine riches?  12And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
13No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
 
Reflection:
 
·       Do we make good use of our money?
·       Who are the ‘two masters’?
 
Case Study: Asparagus, the luxury vegetable
 
Asparagus from Peru can be found in supermarkets as early as February. You will only find British asparagus from April to June, at more than twice the price.
 
As well as the carbon footprint of the air miles, this innocent vegetable has created a water crisis in Peru, leading to daily hardship, loss of livelihood and civil unrest. The Ica Valley in Peru is one of the driest places in the world. After major investment, mostly from the World Bank, large agri-businesses re-greened the desert in the 1990’s and by 2008 the cultivation of asparagus in Peru covered nearly 100 square kilometres. The water table in the valley has dropped by as much as eight metres each year.
 
Ground water is provided by the Ica River, rising in the mountains of Huancavelica, Peru’s poorest region, where the indigenous people already lacked water because of mining pollution and the depleted icecaps which feed the river. Much of their supply is diverted to asparagus farms. Wells are drying up, supplies are rationed, water has become expensive, and farmers are forced to sell their land to the asparagus trade. One giant asparagus farm can use as much water as the entire city of Ica every day.
 
Before you begin your boycott of Peruvian asparagus, consider that it has created near-zero unemployment in the region. However short-term and unsustainable, the asparagus trade has been a lifeline to the Peruvian economy. As the UK is the third largest importer, we have a responsibility to those livelihoods.
 
The price of asparagus doesn’t reflect reality. The costs of overexploiting precious resources are passed on to small farmers who cannot afford crippling water rates, to highlanders struggling to survive, and to all of us suffering the consequences of carbon emissions. What should Peruvian asparagus really cost?
 
Our economic system forces us to decide between people and planet. It pits us against nature, treating ecosystems only as exploitable resources, and against each other, demanding low costs and cutting work forces in favour of mechanisation. However there is a growing clamour for a different approach to farming.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
Case Study: Food miles

At a recent conference on food security, a Scottish farmer who grew potatoes exclusively for one of the big supermarkets told the following story to illustrate what happens to food before it gets to our kitchens and on to our plates. After harvest, the crop was collected from his farm, taken to the London area to be washed and bagged and then put into storage at a central warehouse before distribution across the UK.  This is the standard process.  A few weeks after selling his potatoes, the farmer was in the unusual situation of needing to buy some.  When he went to the local supermarket he ended up buying some of his own potatoes that were now in a plastic bag with his picture on it.  They had come home after a journey of nearly 1000 miles. He thought the potatoes were at least as well travelled as he was.
 
·       Discussion:  What strikes you?
·       What are the hidden costs of food production?
·       What if you’re struggling to make ends meet?
 
 
From Laudato Si:
#158  In the present condition of global soci­ety, where injustices abound and growing num­bers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters.
 
Action: Where do we go from here?
 
Closing Prayer  (From Laudato Si)
 
Living God, have mercy on us, for the times we forget that we belong to each other. 
 
You call us to be still, to hear the whisper of our Sister Wind, to feel the radiance of our Brother Sun, to be nourished by our Mother Earth.
 
Renew us in your healing love. Inspire us to water the earth, and nurture one another, so all may flourish.
 
Together, as one family, may we always sing your praise.
 
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
 
 
SESSION 4

Globalisation of Indifference
 
Opening Prayer (From Laudato Si)
 
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
 
Reading: Gospel for the 26th Sunday year C:  Luke 16: 19-31
19 Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feasted magnificently every day. 20And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.  Dogs came and licked his sores.  Now t22he poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.* The rich man also died and was buried.
“In his torment i23n Hades he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus in his bosom.  So he cried*24 out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” “My son,” 25Abraham replied, “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus.  Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. 26But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours and to stop any crossing from your side to us.”
“The rich man replied, 27“Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since 28I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too.”29 ‘They have Moses and the prophets,’ said Abraham, ’let them listen to them.” 30  ‘Ah no, father Abraham,’ said the rich man ‘but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Then Abraham said 31to him, “If they will not listen to either Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.” ’
Reflection: What strikes you?  How does this relate to us?
 
Case Study – A Christmas Conversion
 
A woman was driving to visit relatives on December 22nd. In the car she listened to a Christmas CD which included “Rebel Jesus”, written by Jackson Browne. She was struck by the words, which seemed to suggest that a festival of consumption was a strange way to celebrate the birth of the man who condemned the Temple being turned into a robbers’ den. The song comments that we “guard our fine possessions” and may give a little to the poor at Christmas “if the generosity should seize us”  but that questioning the “business of why they are poor” gets the ”same as the rebel Jesus”. Soon after she went to a large supermarket, piled to the rafters with consumer goods and overpriced festive treats, full of people with trolleys piled high and money pouring through the tills. The relevance of the song was very striking.
This was a road to Damascus moment for her. She reflected on how much of what we give and receive at Christmas is “stuff” that no-one really wants or needs, yet people are spending huge amounts of money they may be able to ill afford. 
 
It was too late to make a difference to how she prepared for that Christmas, but since then she has told her friends and family not to buy her presents but, instead, give the money they might have spent to a good cause of their choice, and told them that she is no longer giving presents and will do the same. She was surprised how many of her friends agreed and felt that Christmas spending had got out of hand. They all agreed that they still had birthdays on which to treat each other. The saving of time in the weeks before Christmas has been an unexpected benefit - time which is spent instead with friends and family – and celebrating the birth of the rebel Jesus.
 
To find out more, visit https://www.alternativity.org.uk/
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
Case Study: Farming for the future

Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union started out as a group of six organic coffee farmers who were keen to spread their message of environmental awareness. Based in Kasese town in western Uganda, their main problem was the financial return on their crop.
 
With organic production being labour intensive, the farmers found they were not getting the best price compared to conventional coffee. By tapping into the Fairtrade market, Bukonzo has been able to overcome this problem, while also quadrupling their membership from 500 in 2011 to almost 2,000 farmers.
The co-operative has made a huge impact on the community, particularly on the lives of women, as they are now getting more involved with coffee production. Traditionally a ‘man’s crop’, Bukonzo is one of the few coffee co-operatives in Africa which is managed by women.
 
Farmers are continuing to embrace organic methods, growing coffee under trees, and using goat manure instead of artificial fertilisers, which also helps to conserve the soil in this hilly and erosion-prone area. They have also encouraged members to co-own the coffee farms with their children, allowing the farms to be passed down through generations to maintain the coffee farming culture.
 
The future looks bright for Bukonzo as they action a three-year plan to increase their membership to 2,400, build 23 new micro washing stations, upgrade their coffee hulling plant, and also install their own coffee grading plant (which they currently outsource).
 
Bukonzo is using a Shared Interest loan to provide pre-finance to farmers. This year they plan to start installation of a coffee roasting plant so they can start selling roasted coffee to the local market.
 
Kabugho Josinta, General Manager, said: “The loan from Shared Interest has allowed us to double our coffee sales and pay the farmers on time. With the increased income from coffee sales, the farmers have been able to educate their children.”
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
Case study: Fairtrade
 
Fairtrade is a movement to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainability. It presumes the payment of higher prices to growers and exporters with the aim of improving social and environmental standards. Fairtrade focuses in particular on commodities, or products which are typically exported from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.
The movement seeks to promote greater equity in international trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency, and respect. It promotes sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers in developing countries.
Fair Trade is grounded in three core beliefs. 1: producers have the power to express unity with consumers. 2: world trade practices that currently exist promote the unequal distribution of wealth between nations. 3: buying products from producers in developing countries at a fair price is a more efficient way of promoting sustainable development than traditional charity and aid.
 
Conversation overheard in Morrison’s: 
Young man: [Picking up jar of Fairtrade coffee from shelf] Let’s get this coffee.
Mother: Why do you want that? It’s too expensive.
Young man: [Putting coffee into trolley] But it helps the growers.
Mother: Pah! They should help themselves! [Coffee goes back on shelf].
 
Discussion:  What strikes you?
·       How do we use our money?
·       What are the hidden costs of food production?
·       What if you’re struggling to make ends meet?
 
From Laudato Si:
#49     It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s popu­lation, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and econom­ic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an after­thought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treat­ed merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, com­munications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the com­fortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that 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.
 
# 197  What is needed is a politics which is far­sighted and capable of a new, integral and inter­disciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. Often, politics itself is re­sponsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to en­act sound public policies.
 
Discussion: What strikes you?
 
Action: Where do we go from here?
 
 
Closing prayer (From Laudato Si)         
We pray for the world we live in; that God may open our eyes to recognise the goodness of all creation and help us to do what we can to restore and care for the wonderful gift that we have been given.
Lord in your mercy……..
 
 
SESSION 5

Motivation?

Opening Prayer (From Laudato Si)
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Reading: Gospel for the 27th Sunday year C: Luke 17:5-10
5The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a* mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.
7‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from in the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”?  8Would he be not more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink.  You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”?  Must he be grateful to 9the servant for doing what he was told? 10So with you: when you have done all that you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.” ’
 
Reflection: What strikes you?
·       Is it always easy to find the right course of action?
·       What motivates you to do the right thing?
·       Should we be praised for doing what is right?
·       Is this too harsh? Where does love come into it?
 
Case study: Nestlé
 
Nestlé is searching for more water - 3.6 million litres a day to be exact - from its Aberfoyle plant near Guelph, Canada. The Swiss-owned megacorporation is applying for a 10-year extension on its contract to extract from the Grand River watershed. If it succeeds, it will pay just $3.71 per million litres. That’s less than $15 a day!
 
Unlike other regions in this part of Canada, Wellington County doesn’t get its water from the Great Lakes, it relies entirely on groundwater. Local campaigners are using the internet to protest against what they are calling “Unsustainable theft.”  In the last 4 years, Nestlé has upped its water extraction by over 33% from the Aberfoyle well, while the water level has dropped by a staggering 1.5 metres.
 
But Nestlé isn’t stopping there. It is also applying for an additional well in nearby Wellington County to pump 1.16 million litres of water a day. This is in addition to a neighbouring site in Elora, Ontario where it is already permitted to take over 1 million litres per day. At some point - especially as climate change wreaks havoc across Canada and the world - the water will run out.
 
Discussion – What strikes you?
 
Case Study – Solar Powered Water supply in Zimbabwe
 
Takura Gwatinyanya is a young and enthusiastic Development and Humanitarian Practitioner working for Caritas Harare, CAFOD’s partner in Zimbabwe, as a Program Manager. In July, Takura visited the Diocese and told people at the CAFOD meeting at St Anne’s in Ormskirk about the problems people are facing and how our support through CAFOD is making a difference.
 
In Zimbabwe, 45% of rural people have no access to safe water and sanitation and 60% of the water supply infrastructure is in disrepair.  Lack of clean water and sanitation lead to illness with diarrhoea being a big killer especially in children under five.  Drought conditions, made worse by climate change, make getting water increasingly difficult. “We walk close to a mile to this unprotected well which is a disused mine pit. It’s our only source since all the boreholes are broken down,” says Mercy, 29, mother-of-two.
 
“When it comes to water we face many challenges, most boreholes have dried up. So we wake up before sunrise and travel many kilometres to fetch water,” says Joyce, 53, from Bluegrass village in Sanyati. Kudzai, aged eight from Sanyati, says, “Every day after school we have to go home with a 20 litre bucket of water since the borehole is close to the school and more than 1.5 miles away from home. If we don’t do that, we are forced to wake up early in the morning and at times we end up missing lessons.”  Anastancia Mafema, from Mudzi District, says, “I am over 70 years old and can no longer perform the duties I used to, but I have these grandchildren to fetch the water for me after school. I accompany them since it is too dangerous for them to go alone, but at times I just let them go.”
 
Manual boreholes and bush pumps are often too heavy for women who walk long distances every day. CAFOD is helping by providing solar powered water pumps and piped water. Over 35,000 people in seven areas have received CAFOD support through the solar powered water scheme which provides clean water for drinking and watering crops and reduces the workload of women. They say, “Although fetching water still remains our responsibility, we now do it gracefully. It’s now easier as compared to the borehole. We spend less time and the taps are closer to our homes.”
 
 
Discussion:  What strikes you?
 
From Laudato Si:
#66  The creation accounts in the book of Gen­esis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human ex­istence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. Accord­ing to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations.... The harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Fran­cis in some way returned to the state of original innocence. This is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.
 
#208 We are always capable of going out of ourselves towards the other. Unless we do this, other creatures will not be recognized for their true worth; we are unconcerned about caring for things for the sake of others; we fail to set lim­its on ourselves in order to avoid the suffering of others or the deterioration of our surround­ings. Disinterested concern for others, and the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption, are essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the nat­ural environment. These attitudes also attune us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us. If we can overcome individu­alism, we will truly be able to develop a different lifestyle and bring about significant changes in society.
 
Discussion: what strikes you?
Action:
 
What next?
·       'Taking small steps' like the mustard seed that started small and grew. 
·       What actions might follow from these weeks of reflection?
·       What actions can we take on our own?
·       What actions can we do as a community?
·       How can reverence for creation be reflected in our liturgies?
·       How can we Live more Simply, mindful of our place and impact on the earth?  Have you tried looking at the Livesimply Award for parishes?
 
 

Closing Prayer:
 
 
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees him.

Send your Spirit and consecrate
every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy
may be a year of grace from the Lord.

And your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,

proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

Amen.