By Giada Aquilino
Cecilia Dall'Oglio, associate director of European programs of the Laudato si' Movement, summarizes the meaning of the 2021 Season of Creation as hospitality expressed through a mission of dialogue, a commitment to build a shelter for others, "to do our part now and do it together".
She also describes it as an annual time of renewal and hope bringing together Christians of all denominations. She calls to mind the life and faith experience of her brother, Jesuit father Paolo Dall'Oglio, of whom there has been no news since his disappearance in 2013 in Syria. Fr. Dall’Oglio helped re-establish the monastery of Mar Musa in Syria.
Beginning on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and continuing until 4 October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the faithful around the world are mobilizing to renew their relationship with the Creator and all of creation through this celebration, marking a time for conversion and concrete commitment. This year's theme is "A Home for All? Renewing God's oikos," she explains.
Dall’Oglio is the representative of the Global Ecumenical Steering Committee for the Season of Creation. She points to the Tent of Abraham as the pivotal symbol of all the events. "I think that Father Paolo, my brother, would be very happy to see so many "Abraham Tents" set up in communities around the world, in symbolic places found on all continents, the many declarations of commitment by Christians from worldwide to build a home for all, to renew the oikos of God, so that hospitality, which is the charism, one of the pillars of the community of Mar Musa, may be for all of us a path to follow. Hospitality is also making space, meeting and shaking each other’s hands."
Focusing on the question "A home for all?", the central theme, Cecilia Dall'Oglio emphasizes how urgent it is to "begin a process of ecological conversion".
It is necessary, she explains, that "our communities stop and reflect, that they pray to the Lord to give them the gift of discernment to understand whether as a community they really are building a home for all."
She adds, "renewing God's oikos' comes from becoming aware that the earth is the Lord's, as is everything in it. This earth, this common home, as Pope Francis calls it in Laudato si', this oikos is made up of relationships. We know that the Creator has given humankind a special vocation to care for his home, so we are called together to support equitable ecological, social, economic, and political relationships."
The Season of Creation commitment that unites Christians around the world is also underscored by Christina Leaño, associate director and co-founder of the Laudato si' Movement.
"For the past 7 years," she says, "we have worked closely with ecumenical partners - the World Council of Churches, representatives of the Orthodox Communion, the Anglican Church, Lutherans and others - to unite as followers of Christ in caring for our planet.
The result has instilled a "motivation for stronger ecumenical collaboration" that has translated into concrete actions, "from pilgrimages along local rivers in Canada to religious congregations working to reduce meat consumption," from participation in climate initiatives by young people around the world to creation-related themes included "in Sunday liturgies in Latin America."
Among the plans for the 2021 edition is one called "A tent for all", which consists of an invitation to pitch tents in symbolic places. Agesci, the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts, did just that in Piazza Santa Chiara in Assisi.
The Association's president, Barbara Battilana, recalls that right there, in the Basilica, "the Crucifix of San Damiano is kept, in front of which the Poverello of Assisi was praying when he received the Lord's request to repair his house".
That’s the starting point for the youth of Agesci and she says it is "an example and a continuous reference point to be able to pitch tents everywhere and transmit the message of taking care of our common home, not just on our own, but together as a community."