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Grace and gratitude for creation

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Catholic school students across the State are being encouraged to say grace before their meals this month to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ inspirational encyclical Laudato Si’.

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The ‘grace initiative’, which has been developed by the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools’ Ecology Advisory Committee, will form part of Catholic Schools Open Week celebrations from August 10 to 16.

Committee spokesperson Monica Conway said Catholic school communities were being asked to say grace to “demonstrate our shared commitment to ecological conversion and action”.

“Of all the exhortations – great and small – that Pope Francis has laid before us in Laudato Si’, the one that we are choosing to focus on as a system of Catholic schools at this time is his call to say grace before meals,” she said.

“Grace grounds us in the great reality of being part of and dependent on creation, and grace gives witness to our faith and our commitment to integral ecology and ecological conversion.

“In the encyclical Pope Francis reminds us when we stop and give thanks to God before and after meals it is an expression of a loving awareness that everything is closely related and the Pope asks all believers to return to this beautiful and meaningful custom.

“That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labours provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need.”

Schools have been provided with two compositions of grace which can be used during the week and Ms Conway hoped students would also embrace the practice of saying grace in their homes with their families. The compositions are:

Loving God, We ask you to bless this food which comes to us through the work of many people, from the sowing of seeds in the earth to our table here today. We pray for those in our world who do not have enough food. Help us to always care for people and Your beautiful creation. Amen.

Loving God, Thank you for the food we are about to eat. Thank you for the people who made it. We pray for all those who do not have enough to eat. Help us to care for all creation. Amen.

Published in 2015, Laudato Si’ continues to provide inspiration to Christians around the world.

In May, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the celebration of a Laudato Si’ anniversary year. At the time Pope Francis said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the importance of “caring for our common home” and hoped the anniversary year would serve to encourage global citizens to adopt more sustainable practices.

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