Pray ‘creation mysteries’ to reflect on encyclical’s themes

| Christopher Thompson | August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Pope Francis has declared Sept. 1 the “World Day of Prayer for Creation” and has asked us in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” to develop an ecological spirituality. Why not take time that day to pray the rosary, but with the theme of creation as your focus? The repetitive nature of this prayer form makes recollection upon the various spiritual themes or “mysteries” relatively easy.

It seems that with this newest call to focus on the gift of creation, the rosary might be a good way to bring together the ancient and the new. As a form of private devotion, such an approach might enrich your contemplative encounter with Christ.

First Mystery of Creation: The incarnation

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(Jn 1:14)

This famous line from the opening of the Gospel of John marks an excellent point of departure for prayer for at least two reasons: First, the earth is not alien to God, not in the least. Instead, dwelling among us, God chose to enact his plan of love and redemption on this land. Second, at a deeper level, all of creation bears the impress of the Word, the Logos, the one through whom all things are made. Awe before the beauty of creation is a kind of adoration of the Son. In this first decade, we can reflect on those occasions of awe and thank God for this presence in our lives.

Second Mystery of Creation: The power of beauty

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”(Mt 6:28)

In this second mystery, consider something beautiful; perhaps have a flower on hand as a spiritual aid, ponder its incredible intricacy, its delicate nature, its beauty, its fragility — and yet, its power — to produce something beautiful for God. Jesus uses this occasion of a flower to remind us not to worry. God is in charge and we can take comfort in him. In knowing something beautiful, we know God is with us. In this second decade, we can recall a wondrous location and consider how God seeks to meet and care for us there.

Third Mystery of Creation: The power of Christ

“Who is this that even winds and sea obey him?” (Mt 8:27)

We need to be honest; encountering nature is not always a rosy experience. Pondering the beauty of a flower is one thing; bracing for the impending storm on the horizon another. Especially with the introduction of sin, we can count on misunderstanding nature and resenting its ways. But Christ takes the occasion of ill weather to remind the disciples of the importance of faith, and that inordinate fear has no place for one who rests in the Lord. In grasping the power of nature, we can learn to trust in God. In this decade, we pray for the graces to trust in the providence of God for all creatures.

Fourth Mystery: The future of creation

“All things were created through him and for him.” (Col 1:16)

It is not unusual when standing under a starry sky to wonder: What is all of this for? Well, it’s for us, in many ways. The glory of this universe is the setting in which we live out our lives in gratitude to the Father. Christ joins us in this desire, especially in the Eucharist, and it is there, in that universal prayer of the Church, that the world is given its final purpose and direction. In this decade, we pray that we may return the gifts of creation, including our labors, to the Father.

Fifth Mystery: The renewal of creation

“Behold, I make all things new.” (Rv 21:5)

What is the status of the earth and its creatures in the final judgment and the kingdom? In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis makes the bold suggestion that “eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place. . . .” Though theologians have offered various interpretations, one thing is clear: The life that we lived here on earth will be fulfilled, not dismissed. How we have loved God, neighbor and God’s creatures will be a testament to our faith. In this decade, we pray for the courage and hope to live out our remaining days giving thanks to the Lord for the gift of his earth.

Thompson is academic dean of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

Category: Commentary