Guided Rosary with emphasis on care for creation in light of Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si”
During the “Season of Creation,” we offer the following meditations on the rosary written by the Franciscan Action Network. They are primarily to help us realize that Christ came into this world and that, like Christ, we are called to shape the world around us in a way that reflects our inherent dignity and worth as well as the dignity and worth of God’s creation that surrounds us. This week we use the Joyful Mysteries.
1. Annunciation: Mary gives the great Yes to God and in doing so gives that same Yes to us when the angel appears to her and delivers the good news that she will bear the child of God. Obedience, an important aspect of Franciscan thought, is perhaps epitomized by Mary’s response to God’s plans.
a. God gives us many responsibilities, and they hinge on free will. How often do we give, like Mary, an emphatic Yes! to God’s plans?
b. In specific relation to the environment, we’ve been charged by God to care for the creation around us. Do we accept this responsibility?
2. Visitation: Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is overjoyed to see Mary and exclaims so, shouting out “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Mary’s response is one of humility, and it is here that she proclaims the Magnificat and an “upside down” world where the powerless are lifted up while the powerful are cast down. As Catholics, we are called to be one with the poor and the marginalized.
a. Pope Francis has said that “The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” (“Laudato Si,” 2). Do we view the world around us as such? Do we recognize that abuse of the world around us as taking advantage of something that is vulnerable and entrusted to our care?
b. The increasingly destructive natural disasters we’ve seen in recent human times (as well as receding coastlines) is a result of climate change brought about, in part, because of human action. Again reflecting on the words of Pope Francis, who once echoed the words a peasant had told him that “God always forgives, we men sometimes forgive, nature never forgives. If you slap it, it will always slap you back.” Also realize that God lifts up the vulnerable from their lowly positions; are we cognizant of God’s coming justice and do we look to implement ecological justice in our relationship with the world?
3. Nativity: Meditating on the mystery of the nativity, we’re reminded that God was not removed from the world God created, but rather came into it and was received with joy. Christ was born in the most humble of circumstances among those who reaped and sowed the Earth and its creatures for a living.
a. God did not simply put Earth and all creation into being then walk away; the beautiful thing about Christianity is that God lived in the world with all of its problems and among the people, environments and animals that gave (and continues to give) Earth its character. Are we equally joyful to live in this world, and is that evident with how we live our lives? Are we, like the humble Christ, happy to be among the lowly and those closest to the Earth?
b. Are we able to see Christ’s presence in even the smallest or seemingly insignificant creatures and are we filled with the same irrepressible joy that St. Francis was in finding God in all things?
4. Presentation in the Temple: Mary and St. Joseph go to the Temple, in accordance to the Jewish religious laws of the time, to present the baby Jesus and dedicate Him to God. Entrusted with the most precious gift of all time, the Christ-child, they willingly and humbly took care of Him and gave Jesus back to God.
a. As previously reflected on, we’ve been charged with caring for God’s creation and we too are called to present ourselves to the Lord. Do we fully present ourselves in God’s service with relation to taking care of what God has given to us? Do we willingly, happily and completely take responsibility over the Earth we’ve been entrusted to?
b. Mary and St. Joseph are fully aware of the religious environment they live in and respond accordingly. They realize that they are part of a greater whole. Do we do the same in the environments in which we are placed? What about in regard to all creation?
5. Discovery of the child Jesus in the Temple: the Holy Family, realizing that Jesus was not with them when they left Jerusalem, had to turn back to look for Him. Jesus was right where they should have expected Him to be; in the Temple teaching. He also filled those listening to Him with great wonder.
a. We so often search for Christ in the world around us, but is creation one of those places? Call to mind the words in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians: “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1:16-17). Are we able to see Christ in all things, and are we able to “travel back,” like Mary did, and receive Him with joy?