The following meditations are written by Ann Braudis, M.M. for participants in the Maryknoll Advanced Missionary Discipleship Formation Seminar "Exploring Our Call in Caring for Creation." The seminar was held in Los Altos, California, August 7-11, 2017.
According to Pope Francis, “Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right." (Laudato Sí', 33)
The extinction rate is up to 100 times higher than it would have been without human activity.
As we approach the end of October and the first days of November when we traditionally remember our beloved dead, mourn their loss and hold them in our prayer; this year, let us expand our sense of loss to include the species that are forever gone due to human activity.
Equinox means the point when the dark and light of the day are most at balance. On a global scale, the equinoxes are at the points of the year when the entire world is in balance, with both Southern and Northern hemispheres receiving about the same amount of light. The equinox has another important feature as well: it is the only point during the year that the Sun rises in exact east and sets in exact west.
The Autumnal Equinox marks the point where growth is finishing and readying for winter is beginning. "Just as the trees will let go of their leaves and the plants their fruits, it’s time for all of us to take stock and see what we need to release." (Anne Key, "Fall Equinox – Blessings for Balance," Mother House of the Goddess, September 19, 2016.)
"On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, And darken the Earth in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9)
Our ancestors in faith could not help but notice the eclipse of the sun and attribute to it great spiritual importance in alignment with what they understood at the time. In our own day, we understand more about how the eclipse happens from the discipline of science and experience awe and reverence before its profound expressions of beauty and intelligence.
Since our faith tradition continues to unfold through us, we encourage each other to consciously bring into our prayer and ritual expression our deepest gratitude for the Cosmos, in its established order and in its continual emergence. The solar eclipse provides an elegant opportunity to do so.