The Global Ignatian Prayer Vigil for the Season of Creation took place online on Friday, 25 September 2020 at 7pm Irish/British time. Entitled Breathing Together, it was a celebration of creation with a call to ecological conversion and commitment to action for justice. It focused on the ‘three lungs’ of the earth – the Amazon forest, Congo Basin and Asian boreal forests – which are literally and figuratively on fire.
Organised by the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Jesuits, the vigil featured testimonies, reflections of people and communities combined with symbolic and interactive moments. It occurred across three time zones in Manila, Rome and New York. It was broadcast live in Spanish and English on the Jesuits Global YouTube channel. Click here for the video recording of the vigil ».
Pedro Walpole SJ, Irish Jesuit missionary and environmental scientist in the Philippines, gave a testimony at the vigil. He said:
“The Pacific Ocean, a third of the earth’s surface, changes seasonally. Those changes are becoming more extreme, so the typhoons, the monsoon seasons give us floods that we’ve never had before and they also give us droughts. And the rise in sea level can cause a whole nation to be left without a grounding.
We have cleared much of South-East Asian forests; Papua New Guinea is there still and some of Kalimantan is left. But we’re clearing the Amazon and of course the Congo is under major pressure.
The clean oxygenated air that is revived by these forests and the oceans connects us. In every breath we are connected to these.
Oil palm, corn, cattle, the destruction of the forests all over the world – we connect with this, often through money not aware of what our purchasing is doing. It really calls for transformation in our lives.
The poor in the urban areas are often migrants – very poor conditions both for work and for accommodation. They’re extremely vulnerable. They’re living in cramped and unhealthy conditions. They have no support community.
We urgently need to connect and to recognise the differences and the diversities and the limits in our life and in the planet, and find new ways with dignity and with equity to connect. May God give us strength.”
According to the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat, we are struggling for breath today in our wounded world. We have disrupted the balance between God, creation and humanity, and we are experiencing the consequences of that disharmony in our changing climate. The people of the lungs of our world are crying out for justice.
Gavin T. Murphy (above) of Irish Jesuit Communications participated in the prayer vigil. He commented:
“It was a joyful experience and challenging at the same time. Jesuits and their Partners in Mission from around the world gave testimony about how they struggle to breathe.
The indigenous peoples of the Congo Basin, Asian boreal forests and Amazon forest were deeply concerned about their ecological home being destroyed. ‘It is my home’, as one woman said. Irish Jesuit Pedro Walpole SJ who lives among indigenous people in the Philippines said: ‘We need to find new ways to connect’.
The event was very Ignatian in that we were led through a contemplation on how we and God see the world. We were encouraged to listen to what we saw and heard and to let it resonate in our hearts. At one point, we were reminded that as plants breathe out, we breathe in and as we breathe out, plants breathe in. It spoke of a deep and literal interconnectivity.
At the end of the vigil, we took photos of ourselves with a houseplant and posted it on social media with #BreathingTogether. I was left with a real desire to do my bit in helping the three lungs of the world breathe freely and to be more attuned to my relationship with nature in Ireland.
I pray for the indigenous peoples of the Congo Basin, Amazon forest and Asian boreal forests and that I may cooperate in listening and reaching out to them.”
People are invited to take action throughout the Season of Creation from 1 September to 4 October. If you wish to join the Jesuits in showing how you experience creation, take a photo of yourself with a houseplant or in the outdoors and share it on social media. Use #BreathingTogether and #SeasonOfCreation and tag @SJES_Rome (or Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat on Facebook).
Click here for the Eco Jesuit website » whose motto is to connect Jesuits, people and ecology.