09/11/2015, 00.00
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Mumbai: a Novena to Mary inspired by Laudato si’

by Nirmala Carvalho
Celebrating the Nativity of the Virgin at Our Lady of the Mount Basilica began on 4 September until this Sunday. Mgr Rodriguez, who leads the prayer, has called to heed Pope Francis’ appeal to respect the environment and the creatures that inhabit it. As the encyclical says, in Mary’s “glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Sunday will mark the end of a Novena of prayer at Our Lady of the Mount to celebrate the Nativity of Mary, which falls on 8 September.

This year’s meditation centred on Pope Francis’ encyclical "Laudato si’, on the care of the common home", released on 18 June, in particular, Chapter VI on ‘Ecological education and spirituality’. Mgr Nereus Rodrigues (pictured), rector of the basilica, led the Marian prayers.

During the service, he called on the thousands of pilgrims in attendance to reflect on God’s words, and Francis’ ‘green encyclical, in which the Holy Father calls for a conversion in the relationship between society and nature.

The event began on 4 September with a reflection on paragraphs 203-204 of the encyclical. During his meditation, the bishop warned the faithful against focusing on a life based only on consuming, which can only result in "violence, mutual destruction and exploitation of the environment."

On day two, participants meditated on points 210 and 211, i.e. on environmental education and responsibility, which means, among other things, car-pooling, tree planting, less water and power use.

On the third day of prayer, Mgr Rodriguez cited point  217 to explain that the environmental crisis implies a consciousness of love, that we are disconnected from the other creatures, when instead we should be “joined in a splendid universal communion with plants, animals, rivers, mountains, valleys etc.”

Talking about point 222, the bishop said that we ought to be restrained in our use of Creation. In practical terms, this means “reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence must not be contrived but found, uncovered.”

On 8 September (the fifth day of the Novena), the prelate led the meditation on point 231. “Our spirituality is deeper when we show concern for the public space and strive to protect, restore, improve or beatify it for the common good for it belongs to us and to future generations." For the prelate, “Human ties and a new society can develop around such community actions.”

On the sixth day, he urged participants to reflect on the human body, looking at point 235, whereby the inner nature of the human body is seen as “a temple of the Holy Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world's salvation."

The next day, the reflection focused on point 240 of the encyclical, i.e. on the Trinity and the ties among the creatures. According to the bishop, Christians must intensify their communion with all the other elements of nature.

Turning to the Book of Wisdom in his homily, Mgr Rodrigues explained that “Wisdom is the Holy Trinity, which existed before Creation. Creation is the work of the Holy Trinity and God the Father is the principle of Creation. Jesus is the Word made Flesh. The Holy Spirit is the loving bond between the Father and the Son.”

On the last two days of prayer, Mgr Rodriguez will mention Saint Joseph as the "guardian of the universal Church" and the moment "when we meet face to face with the infinite beauty of God."

The meditation on 13 September will focus on point 241, which is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of all creation. As the encyclical points out, "In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty".

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