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Resources for Earth Hour 2017

Earth Hour will be marked around the world on Saturday 25 March. In Ireland, it will be observed from 8.30pm until 9.30pm. Earth Hour is all about inspiring people to take better care of the planet. 

Earth Hour is the single largest symbolic mass participation event in the world. Born of the hope that people could be mobilized to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires a global community of millions of people in 7001 cities and towns across 178 countries to switch off lights for an hour. The event recognizes our global responsibility for the climate change which is already devastating lives and threatening the future of the planet. 

Earth Hour is now in its tenth year and it offers an opportunity for parishes and other faith groups to celebrate, pray and explore environmental concerns and how our faith calls us to address them. Many parishes are already taking part around the world in different and creative ways:

  • Arranging for lights inside or outside your church to be turned off for an hour
  • Organizing a candlelit holy hour with a climate change theme
  • Planning a torchlight wildlife walk or stargazing walk to make the most of the hour of darkness
  • Using some of the prayers at Masses over the weekend

The idea of earth hour very much fits in with the themes of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on Care for Our Common Home. The hashtag for Ireland for Earth Hour 2017 is #EarthHourIrl.

Below you will find some resources for use in parishes in association with Earth Hour: 

Laudato Si’ resources 

Pope Francis’ published an encyclical letter on Care for our Common Home in 2015. The encyclical, Laudato Si’, takes its name from the invocation of Saint Francis of Assisi, “Praise be to you, my Lord” which in the Canticle of the Creatures reminds us that the earth, our common home “is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us” (1). We ourselves “are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters” (2).

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her” (2). Her cry, united with that of the poor, stirs our conscience to “acknowledge our sins against creation” (8). Taking the words of the “beloved” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Pope reminds us: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity … by causing changes in its climate …; to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”(8).

The appropriate response to such penitence is what Saint John Paul II already called a “global ecological conversion” (5). In this, St Francis of Assisi is “the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. […] He shows us just how inseparable is the bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace” (10).

The Encyclical Laudato si’ (Praise be to you) is developed around the concept of integral ecology, as a paradigm able to articulate the fundamental relationships of the person: with God, with one’s self, with other human beings, with creation.

You can download the encyclical letter here Laudato Si – ENGLISH TEXT

Pope Francis said the encyclical is meant for everyone, not just Catholics:

“This encyclical is aimed at everyone: Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has given us”.

For some frequently asked questions and answers on Laudato Si please click here – Laudato Si – Questions and Answers

10 key quotes from Laudato Si from iCatholic.ie – click here 

Recommended reading

Prayers

Audio: Click here to listen to ‘A Prayer for Our Earth’ from Laudato Si’.

A prayer for our earth from Laudato Si’
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
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 world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Amen.

A Christian prayer in union with creation
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!
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!

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!

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.

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!
Amen.

Prayer from Eco Congregation Ireland for use at Masses 

Creator God, this earth is beautiful and fragile. Forgive our confusion and inaction as we confront the challenges of climate change. In the light of your truth, seen so clearly in the life and teachings of Jesus, help us to re-examine ourselves and our lifestyle choices and see clearly the implications of how we live on all that sustains life on earth. May we follow your leading in caring for every aspect of this precious world, which you made and love. Throughout history you have moved people to do amazing things for the sake of their neighbours and especially the poor.

Inspire us now to work together, as your people, to change priorities in the way we live so that we build a fair and safe world for all your creation and for future generations. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen 

Related Links and Content

In 2009 the Irish Bishops’ Conference published the pastoral reflection The Cry of the Earth with the aim of stimulating and resourcing dialogue and reflection on the critical questions posed by the challenge of climate change. The reflection was inspired by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, published earlier that year. Caritas in Veritate  emphasised that the ‘environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.’

On the role of the Church, Pope Benedict stated: ‘The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere’ (nn. 48 and 51). Accordingly, in The Cry of the Earth individuals, parish communities and all people of good will were invited to reflect on ‘that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying’ (n. 50).

This pastoral reflection proved to be a valuable tool for those who are concerned about the impact of climate change and want to take action to address its negative consequences.

As more and more people in our society are becoming aware of the unjust impact of climate change on some of the most vulnerable communities in our world, The Cry of the Earth was updated in 2014, with supporting resources for dialogue at parish level, with a new title – The Cry of the Earth: A Call to Action for Climate Justice. 

The Cry of the Earth: A Call to Action for Climate Justice from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference 

GLAS – a pastoral resource for parishes to supplement The Cry of the Earth: A Call to Action for Climate Justice 

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