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A Prayer for Arbor Day, April 24, 2020

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! The theme of this anniversary is Climate Action. Please join us as we participate in this special Arbor Day Prayer, created by Sister Maureen Abbott. Sister Maureen’s prayer seems especially fitting in these uncertain, shelter-in-place times, as a way for us to celebrate the gift of Earth, all living things and the ecosystems that support the web of life. After you’ve celebrated the gift of trees and all Creation through this prayer, why not make a stronger commitment to sustainability by signing our Providence Climate Agreement?

Remote preparation
During the days preceding your individual or group prayer, set aside a time to experience a tree. Choose a window where you can simply gaze at it. Go for a walk and settle before it. Invite it to speak to you, then listen closely. Speak to it. Praise it in a haiku or other small poem. Sketch a branch. Hug it to share its strength. Take a photo. Dream about it.

Share your reflections with a friend or family member, or share it in the comments below.

Call to prayer

Leader: O Holy God, how wondrous is the universe you have made. Love sings many songs; may this song be the prayer of our hearts.

Song: Sacred the land, sacred the water, sacred the sky, holy and true. Sacred all life, sacred each other, all reflect God, who is good.

Psalm 96
Ant. Sing to God, bless God’s name! Alleluia.

Sing to God a new song!
Sing to God, all the earth!

In God’s presence are splendor and majesty.
In God’s sanctuary, power and beauty.

Let the heavens be glad; let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all that it holds.

Let the fields exult, and all that is in them!
Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

God is coming to rule the earth —
To rule the earth with justice
And its people with truth.

Glory …
Ant. Sing to God, bless God’s name! Alleluia.


A reading from the Book of Job 14:7-9
Trees always have hope; once felled, there is the chance of a new sprout with tender shoots. Even with the root rotting underground and a withered stump half alive, yet it will bud at the scent of water, and put out branches like a new plant.

A reading from Saint Mother Theodore’s Third Journey of Travel, May 1844

The beauty of the forests of Indiana in the rich and lovely month of May surpasses all description. The rivers, swollen by the rains, flow through long lanes of verdure, caressing the islands they seem to carry with them in their course and which look like floating nosegays. The trees raise their straight trunks to the height of more than a hundred and twenty feet and are crowned with tops of admirable beauty. The magnolia, the dog-wood, the catalpa, covered with white flowers, the perfumed snow of the springtime, intermingle with the delicate green of the other trees. Wild lianas climb up to the top of the loftiest trees and then fall down in festoons of every shape, only to begin again upon the ground a new life, thence to climb up again to other heights. How truly is this part of the globe named the New World.

A reading from Saint Mother Theodore’s April 30, 1850 letter to Sister Basilide

If you could have trees planted around the edge of your lot, I think it would be well. Ask Father Dupontavice whether he could have some planted for you. Choose pretty ones; those in front of Mr. Bright’s frame house are nice. If what you plant are of slow growth, have locusts planted between them; then when the fine trees will have grown up, the locusts can be cut away. The latter are common, though pretty.

Sharing of the wisdom of trees

Leader: In the Book of Proverbs we read:
Blessed are you when you find wisdom …
She is a tree of life for those who embrace her. (3:18)
Let us share the wisdom we have learned from contemplating God’s creation of trees.
Each one shares his/her experience of a tree.

Prayers of intercession

Leader: Our experience of trees helps us to grow in our understanding of integral ecology – the fact that “everything in the world is connected.” We now raise our eyes to trees’ unique contribution to the health of Earth by sharing in Pope Francis’ reflection at the close of the Synod on the Amazon, Querida Amazonia: I dream of an amazon region that can jealousy preserve its overwhelming natural beauty and the superabundant life teeming in its rivers and forests.

All: May our efforts help realize the dream.

Leader: I dream of an Amazon region that fights for the rights of the poor, the original peoples and the least of our brothers and sisters, where their voices can be heard and their dignity advanced.

All: May our efforts help realize the dream.

Leader: I dream of an Amazon region that can preserve its distinctive cultural riches, where the beauty of our humanity shines forth in so many varied ways.

All: May our efforts help realize the dream.

Leader: I dream of Christian communities capable of generous commitment, incarnate in the Amazon region, and giving the Church new faces with Amazonian features.

All: May our efforts help realize the dream.

Leader: And for else shall we pray?
… anyone is invited to offer an intercession.

Closing Prayer

All: Holy Creator, we close our prayer mindful of all creation on this planet and the far distant stars of the universe, all your holy people. Continue to encircle us in your divine compassion and love as we seek to walk in your ways. Amen.

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Sister Maureen Abbott

Sister Maureen Abbott

Sister Maureen has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods since 1956. She has served as a teacher at junior high and high school levels. She also ministered as a principal at three different Catholic schools. Sister Maureen has also ministered in diocesan administration positions and was the author of the Sisters of Providence fourth volume community history book. Currently, she ministers in the Archives Department as a community historian.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Mary Ryan on April 22, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you Maureen for this beautiful prayer service for Arbor Day.

    Mary Ryan

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