A few weeks ago, I participated in the first Via Creationis ever conducted at the Santo Celso Forrest, near Lake Bracciano, Province of Rome. It has been a way of opening a new way of praying for me. Like the Via Crucis commemorates the mystery of the Passion, the Via Creationis, developed by the Laudato Si’ Movement, commemorates in a series of stations the mystery of Creation. It does so by reading side by side the two sacred books that God wrote: the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature: liber scripturae and liber naturae, as St. Augustine and other saints have taught throughout history.

Why was the Via Creations created?

As Christians, we have put so much emphasis in our understanding of God as Redeemer that we have neglected the importance of God as Creator. Benedict XVI, during a meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone in August 2008, said that “In recent decades the doctrine of Creation had almost disappeared from theology, it was almost imperceptible. We are now aware of the damage that this has caused. The Redeemer is the Creator and if we do not proclaim God in his full grandeur – as Creator and as Redeemer – we also diminish the value of the Redemption” [1]. The Via Creationis helps us to prayerfully ponder this mystery and praise our Creator for the marvels of Creation. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses:

The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: “It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 283

Where and when to pray it?

It is highly encouraged to pray the Via Creationis outdoors, in the “Cathedral of Creation”. It could be an urban park, garden, the countryside, or wild nature. Weekends are particularly appropriate to pray it given their symbolism, be it on Saturday – the “last day” of the Genesis sequence in which God engages in contemplative rest enjoying the beauty of the cosmos – or Sunday – the “first day” of the Genesis sequence in which God initiates the mystery of the creative enterprise. Moreover, the Season of Creation (September 1 to October 4) is notably particular to pray with the Via Creationis.

Following the Via Crucis logic, it is recommended to identify previously the places that would be most suitable for each station (these could be very close to each other).

Final words

Today, most people live in cities. More and more people live in the megalopolises. Which is why the Argentine theologian Carlos María Galli, in his book God Lives in the City[2] invites us to think, from faith and the Gospel, the presence of God in urban environments. As the Concluding Document of Aparecida states:

Faith teaches us that God lives in the city in the midst of its joys, yearnings and hopes, and likewise in its pains and suffering. The shadows that mark everyday life, such as violence, poverty, individualism and exclusion cannot prevent us from seeking and contemplating the God of life also in urban environments. Cities are places of freedom and opportunity. In them people seek the possibility of knowing more people, and interacting and coexisting with them.

Concluding document, Aparecida 514

Therefore, we have become accustomed to seeing little of God’s footprint around us. We see humanity’s footprint. Perhaps that is why new prayers, like the Via Creations, emerge that, especially for those of us who live in the city, allow us to enter into higher conscious contact with God, going to greet him in his creation, which can lead us to an environmental conversion that encourages us to live a new environmental spirituality, a way of life that is kinder to the environment, and a social and political commitment to its care.

[1] MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI WITH THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF BOLZANO-BRESSANONE. Cathedral of Bressanone, Wednesday, 6 August 2008. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[2] Galli, Carlos María. Dios vive en la ciudad. Hacia una nueva pastoral urbana a la luz de Aparecida y del proyecto misionero de Francisco. Herder.

Note: This article is inspired in: Vía Creationis: contemplando el misterio de la Creación, by Guadalupe García Corigliano, Laudato Si’ Movement. 2023 (with license).

For further info and a detailed guide on how to pray the Via Creationis please visit www.laudatosimovement.org

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About the Author

Bruno Pazzi

Secretariat of Faith

Bruno taught Sociology at Universidad del Salvador (Buenos Aires) and Universidad Salesiana Argentina before becoming Assistant to the Secretary for the Service of the Faith of the Society of Jesus. His particular research interests are in the areas of Sociology of Education, Environmental Sociology and Drug Abuse.

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