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September’s transit points to Creation’s glory

  • September 8, 2022

The month-long Season of Creation launched quietly across Canada on the World Day of Prayer for Creation, Sept. 1.

Pope Francis has chosen “Listen to the Voice of Creation” as the theme for this year’s month of prayer for the environment. The ecumenical month culminates Oct. 4 on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.

Leading into September’s change of seasons, it’s better to think of the annual Season of Creation as a gradual process seeping into the consciousness of the Church year after year, Passionist Fr. Paul Ruttle told The Catholic Register after regular morning Mass at St. Gabriel’s Parish in Toronto.

“You don’t change consciousness overnight,” Ruttle said. “I think it’s probably changing slowly.”

“At the mercy of our consumerist excesses,” Pope Francis told his general audience Aug. 31, the Earth “groans and begs us to stop our abuse and her destruction.”

The Pope’s instincts on what’s happening to the natural world are not out of sync with what ordinary Catholics think and feel, according to Ruttle. At St. Gabriel’s the Passionist Fathers have sought to embody a spirituality that lines up with those instincts in the architecture of the church.

The Roberto Chiotti-designed church features a wall of glass facing out on a natural garden. Rather than merely clear glass, Chiotti has always insisted that the garden and glass combine into a sacred, stained-glass representation of creation.

The Toronto Church is a treasure for the Passionist order because of the way in which it expresses the theology of Fr. Thomas Berry, the Passionist “geologian” who rejected the “ecotheology” label as too narrow. Ruttle is temporarily up at St. Gabriel’s from his home in Florida to relieve pastor Fr. Brando Recana.

“This is wonderful,” Ruttle said of his first look at the church. “I’ve tried to get here for 16 years. I’m glad I did.”

Catholic parishes and schools have events planned that will help people connect with the Season of Creation. The Office for Interreligious Dialogue in Toronto is sponsoring a Sept. 21 event at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 1155 Yonge St., from 6 to 7 p.m.

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