At the beginning of this month we hold the day of thanksgiving and prayer for the gift of creation and the part we play at its heart. Many of us will also have shared in the Family Fast Day organised through Cafod and it begs a question: why do we fast when we are actually giving thanks for the abundance of God’s good creation? Surely we should be enjoying that abundance, not fasting from it.
I think the answer is that we want to show we take nothing for granted and that when we read in the Book of Genesis that we are ‘to subdue the earth and conquer it’, this doesn’t mean we are to exploit or damage it but that we are to tend it, care for it, and generally be good stewards of creation.
When we open the newspapers or watch television and we see the natural world being exploited and spoiled – be it by wild fires, forced labour in mines searching for minerals, or the discarded plastic in our rivers and seas – I am reminded how Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical Laudato Si’ (May you be praised, O God, in all your creation) that we share a ‘common home’ and that we abuse it at our peril – and not just our peril but that of future generations.
So when in October, this month of mists and mellow truthfulness, you keep a harvest thanksgiving – be it in your home, your school or your parish – or when you next make a donation to your local foodbank, be grateful for that which we can so easily take for granted. In that way we can affirm our belief in our common home and make a prayer that we will always cherish all those things which, somewhere along the production line, are always ‘fruit of the earth and work of human hands’.