“Sir, give me this water.” This is the familiar Scripture passage from the story of the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John that Fr. Angel used in the 2018 Strenna. It expresses the longing of every human heart to be filled with the grace of God that comes to us through Jesus, the one who gives a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14). The encounter with Jesus changed the Samaritan woman; she went out to her own townspeople and invited them to meet Jesus for themselves. In him they, too, found life-giving water. Likewise, our friendship with Jesus changes us; we want to let others know about the fullness of life we have received in him. We become his missionary disciples.
During the Rector Major’s visit to our province, we intentionally did not give him T-shirts, jackets, or other souvenirs from the various Salesian presences. Instead, everyone was encouraged to contribute to a common project in his honor. In line with the strenna, all our Salesian presences and groups of the Salesian Family are invited (still) to help provide flowing water for a community in Ghana. The easiest way to help is through electronic giving. Go to www.salesianmissions.org; click on “Donate Now”; next to “Select a program,” choose “Rector Major Water Project.” We were blessed to have Fr. Angel in our province for a week. A practical expression of our gratitude is to contribute to the water project in his honor.
The decision to support a water project rather than give away incidental mementos of the Rector Major’s visit reflects the greater efforts of the province to care for creation. On August 2, through a letter in the Salesian News, I encouraged our Salesian presences to become members of Don Bosco Green Alliance. Now that school has started in every part of the province, it is a good time to register at www.donboscogreen.org.
The province Office of Youth Ministry has made some concrete choices to move away from disposable plastic and show greater care for creation. Amy Marinaro reports that the office recycles plastic and paper. They also are making a conscious effort to design resources for programs so they can be used for several years, for example, reusing binders and printed material. She also gave the example of some changes in the resources used in the Gospel Roads program. The backpacks and water bottles that will be given out in future Gospel Roads are a better quality so that they will last beyond the program. This reduces waste and educates the participants about the importance of making conscious choices to care for creation.
Next Thursday, October 4, is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis begins his encyclical letter on the care of our common home with the words of St. Francis: “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.” In the words of this beautiful canticle, St. Francis reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us (Laudato Si’, 1). The feast of St. Francis is a good opportunity for Salesians to share what we are doing to care for our common home. I invite each Salesian presence to send in a brief report and pictures to Jakeline at email@example.com (cc Fr. Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org). This might include your efforts to recycle, volunteers joining in a neighborhood clean-up day, prayer services, study groups on Laudato Si’, engaging in a discussion on social media about protecting the environment from pollution, reducing the use of disposable plastic, etc.
Let us conclude this letter with the prayer that Pope Francis includes at the end of Laudato Si’.
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 toward 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.
Not just in word, but also in action, let us give praise to God, the Creator.
Fr. Tim Zak