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"Oh God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things" (St. Basil)

"Oh God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things" (St. Basil)

According to numerous sources (here's one), in the fourth century Church Father Basil the Great prayed: 

"O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our little brothers the animals, to whom Thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of this earth which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee in their place better than we in ours."

 

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You might have noticed, however, that the above prayer sounds very modern. There is a great discussion on monachos.net, "a web site dedicated to the study of Orthodox Christianity through its patristic, monastic and liturgical heritage" disputing the attribution to St. Basil. Essentially, the discussion there determines this prayer originated from Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist minister the late 1800s/early 1900s, who taught that the Kingdom of God "is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven". "During the mid-1880s Walter Rauschenbusch served as pastor of a German-Baptist congregation in an impoverished part of New York City." 

 Rev.  Walter Rauschenbusch  (1861-1918) born in Rochester, New York-born, son of a German Lutheran missionary.

Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) born in Rochester, New York-born, son of a German Lutheran missionary.

This blog also does a good job, and traces the prayer back to Rev. Rauschenbusch's book, Prayers of the Social Awakening (1910). The following prayer appears on pages 47-48 of his book. According to the Monachos forum, and as printed, here is Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch's original prayer. 

For this World

O God, we thank thee for this universe, our great home; for its vastness and its riches, and for the manifoldness of the life which teems upon it and of which we are part. We praise thee for the arching sky and the blessed winds, for the driving clouds and the constellations on high. We praise thee for the salt sea and the running water, for the everlasting hills, for the trees and for the grass under our feet. We thank thee for our senses by which we can see the splendor of the morning, and hear the jubilant songs of love, and smell the breath of the springtime. Grant us, we pray thee, a heart wide open to all this joy and beauty, and save our souls from being so steeped in care or so darkened by passion that we pass heedless and unseeing when even the thorn-bush by the wayside is aflame with the glory of God.

Enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all the living things, our little brothers, to whom thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the Earth, which should have gone up to thee in song, has been a groan of travail. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve thee in their place better than we in ours.

When our use of this world is over and we make room for others, may we not leave anything ravished by our greed or spoiled by our ignorance, but may we hand on our common heritage fairer and sweeter through our use of it, undiminished in fertility and joy, that so our bodies may return in peace to the great mother who nourished them and our spirits may round the circle of a perfect life in thee.

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