The Global Catholic Climate Movement has released a very insightful reflection guide for Lent. This guide (disponible en español) reviews the Seven Deadly Sins and corresponding Virtues with an eye to caring for God’s Creation. Yes, the Seven Deadly Sins – not a fun topic to discuss to be sure. But a very helpful one if we are to grow closer to God during this holy season. How we care for the earth and all life on it is one way we can see the impact of our habits, whether good or evil. Let me offer a brief review with a focus on care for Creation.
Pride, the root of all sins, drives us to put ourselves before others and before God, “usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. “ (Pope Francis, Ladauto si 75). The corresponding virtue of humility provides us with the ability to see ourselves before God, and to realize our limitations relative to the unfathomable greatness of God.
Gluttony, lust, greed and envy are all sins of excess, resulting from an insatiable desire that can never be satisfied and will lead only to misery. Pope John Paul II states: “In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the Earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way.” The virtues of temperance, self-control, charity and gratitude are our salvation. Being content with less gives us a sense of peace that frees us to be generous to others in need, mindful of where our resources come from, and thankful for all that we receive.
English writer and poet Dorothy Sayers writes “wrath is the love of justice perverted to revenge and spite.” This is so evident in the discourse in our world, and care for Creation is no exception. The words “climate change” are a lightning rod for passions. The need to be right prevents us from opening our ears and our hearts to listen to people of different viewpoints, especially in this election year. With patience we can calm our emotions to free ourselves to be open, respectful and receptive. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has developed some helpful resources on faithful citizenship to assist us in dialogue on these polarizing topics.
The last great deadly sin, sloth, is the most troubling to me because it slips into our being with little notice. It is the only sin of omission in that it occurs due to a lack of responsibility. Opting for the convenient choice, feeling conquered at the immensity of the issues, treating wasteful habits as acceptable, lacking the time and priority to understand where our goods come from are all examples. We need to be persistent in caring for Creation, beginning with the small daily events in our lives.
I encourage you to spend some time with this guide as well as other Lenten resources on our web site (ourcommonhome.org/lent-2020/). I also encourage you to pray, as I close with a prayer from the Stations of the Cross with John Paul II:
O God, we confess that we have fallen into the temptation of believing that we can and should have it all: more income and comfort, more energy consumption, bigger houses and cars. Our addiction to the consumer version of the abundant life is ravaging our fellow creatures and ecosystems and condemning future generations to desolation. Forgive us, O Divine Creator, for the wrong that we have done and for the good that we have failed to do. Amen.
Sr. Sheila Marie Fitzpatrick, OSB, is a member of the Archdiocesan Creation Care Commission and a Sister of St. Benedict from Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.