First published in The Criterion on September 8, 2017
Since the publication in June 2015 of Pope Francis’environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” a significant worldwide increase in Catholic awareness has taken place regarding our role in taking responsibility to care for the environment.
As part of those efforts, the pope has asked all of us to join with other Christians, other world religions and people of good will, to celebrate a “Season of Creation” as a way of reminding us of our connection to all that God has made for us.
This time period began with the World Day of Prayer for Creation on Sept. 1 and runs through Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
So what can each one of us do individually as Catholics and as local Church communities during this Season of Creation? Perhaps, the first thing to consider is to take the “Laudato Si” pledge that is being supported by the Holy Father:
“Answering Pope Francis’ urgent call in “Laudato Si’, I pledge to: 1) Pray for and with creation; 2) Live more simply; and 3) Advocate to protect our common home. ”
To encourage prayer and reflection during this time period, and to support efforts to change our lifestyles and transform our hearts and minds, a number of resources are available on Catholic websites, including the following:
Catholic Climate Covenant: www.catholicclimatecovenant.org.
Global Catholic Climate Movement: www.CatholicClimateMovement.global.
Once we make the “Laudato Si” pledge, what can we do? Change can occur with small but significant steps by everyone. Focusing on just a few things may help us, just as in Advent or Lent, to be more faithful. Some examples of action to consider:
At the parish level:
- Form a parish creation care team or study group.
- Evaluate the parish carbon footprint. How does it compare with others?
- Go from “paper and plastic” dinnerware to “wash and dry“ at parish meetings by buying reusable ones.
At the personal level:
- Go meatless on all Fridays.
- Adjust the home thermostat and reduce energy use.
- Reuse and recycle more; share items with neighbors instead of buying new.
- Our pope sees concern for the Earth and the environment as a moral and spiritual issue closely connected to our faith, not a political one.
With more than 1.2 billion Catholics on this planet, we are being called in new ways to become protagonists in making the changes needed to preserve our planet, care for the poor, and draw closer to God.
This can mean advocating for the advancement of policies at our local, state and national levels that encourage more sustainable development based on sound scientific principles and clear goals for environmental protection.
This Season of Creation, Lord, help us to pray and act, so that our world in which we live is not threatened by our selfishness and greed, but is protected and preserved for generations to come. Amen.
(John Mundell is a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis and of the ArchIndy Creation Care Commission).