Lessons from how not to observe the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Why my observance of the day includes a very large fan

While friends will be taking part in profound, spiritual events around the world this morning, I’ll be clearing out storage shelves in my basement. Later I'll be emptying the closet that provides access to my attic. All this is being done because of the coming of a fan.

In July I scheduled a home energy audit. It includes a visit by a work crew that will attach an industrial sized fan to my front door. Then they'll turn it on, draw out the air of my house, and go about its rooms with tools that measure drafts.

The contract I signed—and just re-read last night—set the date for the coming of the fan for, yes, the morning of September 1st.

This means I have to give the crew access to the attic and to the basement windows, so I’ll be busy in the morning when I could be going to morning Mass.

The contract also says the work will take nine hours. Yes, nine—which I don’t believe but, well, there it is in writing.

This could cause a problem because at some point I’ll have to get to work to prep the final exams for a wastewater operator class that my agency administers. And after proctoring those tests I’ll be meeting with a moral theologian (and friend) who has agreed to help with a talk sponsored by the Diocese of Providence on Laudato Si’ and climate change.

This is not how I wanted to spend this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Still, I’m sure I’ll find time for prayer somewhere in all this—and maybe that’s the lesson of the day.

Life can keep us busier than we plan, but we can always find time for prayer—for a deeper relationship with God and neighbor.

By the grace of God, the prayers of a busy day can help us see the meaning of the tasks before us

It takes me 20 minutes to drive to work. That’s enough time to say the Rosary. And to say another on the way home. Today I can offer these up for an increase in desire among all peoples (myself included) to care for creation.

And while that work crew is busy injecting caulk into the cracks of my house, I can pray for the energy-saving service they provide—that more people will take advantage of these opportunities—and of course any intentions in the hearts of the workers that they likely won’t share with me when we meet.

And then there’s the wastewater operators my office regulates. I can pray for them, too, while they're nervously taking their exams. After all, their profession is responsible for collecting and treating some 100 million gallons of wastewater every day in Rhode Island. And that keeps the waters of my home state clean and healthy.

In fact, no matter what the day brings, we all get sudden moments of quiet—walking to and from our cars or trains or when we go to the market for bread; when we clean out closets, or whenever a brief pause is part of whatever we are doing. Those are perfect times to praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

And so while I wish I could be attending Mass or a Holy Hour on this special day, I’ll have to settle for praying in the course of a very busy routine.

Yes, that must be the lesson here: By the grace of God, the prayers of a busy day can calm us a bit and help us see the meaning of the tasks before us; they can help us appreciate the people and opportunities around us, and in doing so orient our activities a little more to care for others and our fragile and often frantic common home.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.