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Time to Plan for Lent 2017

 lent_thumb3_thumbLent begins next month — Ash Wednesday is March 1st! Christians who care about Earth and/or whose Christ-awareness has been enriched by evolutionary biology, physics, and the new cosmology might long for Lent resources that include the suffering, death, and resurrection of Earth. Knowing that Jesus’ life is interconnected with everything else, they might want resources that foster actions that contribute to Earth’s sustainability and renewal.

Our reflections on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection need not be isolated from the life, death, and resurrection present in our our sacred and threatened Earth. This Lent is a good time to integrate concern for each precious threatened species with Christ’s suffering “in ten thousand places.” (Gerald Manley Hopkins)

Even butterflies, a symbol of new life, monarch-butterfly-threatenedare threatened with extinction — and the ramifications for other life forms are indeed ominous. “The whole creation [including humanity, so totally dependent upon it] has been groaning as in  the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8: 2) 

Though resources that integrate Christ’s passion and Earth’s passion are not plentiful, they do exist. This site — http://ecospiritualityresources.com — is one of them.

Reflection Booklets for Lent Groups

Two programs that correlate with 2017 Scripture readings are available: Laudato Si’ Reflection Resource and I Thirst: Water Reflections for Lent. Go to the Lent page of the EcoSpiritualityResources.

Ash Wednesday 2017 Stardust Ritual 

Judging by the numbers of people who will proudly wear ashes on their forehead, this ritual has not lost its power. Remembering that we came from dust and will return to dust is awesome. So is remembering that we really date to stars in an evolution that includes billions of years. Check Ash Wednesday 2017 Stardust Ritual  lent_other_picto expand our dust-remembrance by celebrating our coming from stardust and by reflecting on the marvel of dust and earth.

I hope these two resources will contribute to what Thomas Berry called the Great Work. 

Other resources

The Stations of the Cross for All Creation booklet, available from the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC), integrates the sufferings of Jesus, our planet and its people, and envisions resurrection and new life. See http://www.ipjc.org/publications/stations.htm.

 

Please use “Comments” to add your suggestions for making good use of our time this Lent.

Prayer for Feast of St. Francis

If ever the example of St. Francis were needed, it is surely now
when violence is rampant, including among religious groups;
when the planet is in peril from climate change, extinctions, and resource depletion; and
when consumerism threatens to take over our lives and cause poverty for many.

St. Francis’ feast day is celebrated October 4th, though prayerful celebrations often take place before and after this date. For those who wish to use it, the following prayer is available on two sides by clicking here: St.Francis.2014.

Feast of Francis 2014: All Praise be Yours

“The Heavens Are Telling the Glory of God”

Call to prayer 100_0359

Leader: There came a man from Assisi, Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, one most unlikely to shed his wealth and prestige and future comforts,
1: one thought a fool when he overturned society’s expectations and followed the path of Christ,
2: one whose life of simplicity, awareness, gratitude, and peace has made him a model for countless men and women over the centuries,
3: one named patron saint of animals and ecology,
4: one whose name was chosen by a Pope to show the relevance of his life and mission for today’s world.

All: May our time of prayer deepen in us Francis’ radical spirit.

Let us give thanks

Leader: Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures gives praise to the One to whom “all glory, honor and blessing” belong. All: We, too, praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

1. Francis prayed to God “Most High.” Let us be grateful to know that the Aramaic “heaven” means the light and sound shining through all creation and that God lives and acts within it all: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

images2. Francis praised God through “Brother Sun, who brings the day, and light You give us through him.” Let us be grateful for all we know about our star, its place in our solar system, its story dating back billions of years, its potential for replacing fossil fuel use: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

3. Francis praised God through “Sister Moon and stars in the heavens.” Let17-kepler3 us be grateful for knowing that our galaxy contains billions of stars, and is but one of billions of galaxies, and for the awe we feel when we look at the stars: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

4. Francis praised God through “Brothers Wind and Air, and fair and stormy, all weather’s moods by which You cherish all that You have made.” Let us never take for granted the gift of clean, fresh air, the use of wind for energy, and the people who strive to protect our atmosphere and increase use of renewable energy: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

water5. Francis praised God through “Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.” Let us treasure our oceans, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and aquifers, without which our lives would not be possible: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

6. Francis praised God through “Brother Fire, … beautiful and gay, full of power and strength.” Let us be grateful for knowing that humans in ancient times gathered around the fire to share stories that gave meaning to life and bonded community, andfire-at-solstice for memories of times around campfires and fireplaces with family and friends: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

 8057332-earth-with-translucent-water-in-the-oceans-and-the-detailed-topography-of-the-continents7. Francis praised God for “Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits and colored flowers and herbs.” Let us be conscious of our kinship with every creature with whom we share our beloved planet and for knowing that we are both interconnected with it and totally dependent upon it: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

8. Francis praised God for “those who grant pardon for love of You; through those who endure sickness and trial; … those who endure in peace” as did Jesus. Let us remember those, living and dead, who have modeled for us forgiving, non-violent lives and those who labor to reduce weapons of mass destruction and the funds wasted on them. [Pause to remember; mention people if you wish.]: We praise and thank you, Divine Mystery.

Let us be mindful

St. Francis also praised God through Sister Death — the kind “no mortal can escape.” He could not have guessed that humans would cause the sickness and death of the very gifts we have just mentioned. Of the needs of Earth, Let us be mindful.

Mention any relevant concern that weighs on your heart, e.g., Of the animals and plants going extinct, Let us be mindful.

Quiet Prayer

Closing 

All: “Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks. Serve God with great humility.”

Exchange a blessing of peace and all good.

Water

 

Have you noticed an increase in news and articles about water lately? Seems to me every day there is something new: mostly alarming and occasionally heartening. It’s a concern for everyone, but for those of us who find all of creation sacred and interconnected, it calls to our very sense of identity with the One. This could seriously disrupt — indeed, is disrupting — the wondrous and evolving cosmic story . . . . Ramifications for people and all life, present and future, motivate us to learn and act.

First some good news:

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A few days ago I watched an interview with Matt Damon and Gary White, co-founders of Water.org. Motivated to reverse alarming water statistics, like the fact that a child dies about every 20 seconds for lack of clean water, they work with micro-finance groups to help local people construct simple and usable wells to access drinking water and also to provide sanitation. To date, Water.org and these loans (98% of which get repaid) have helped five million people get water! Damon received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in Davos, January 21, 2014, for his efforts to improve the world’s water situation. Of course, this improvement does not cheer the “water mafia,” those presently making money from delivering water expensively, or the loan sharks. http://www.youtube.com/user/water

Water.org is just one of numerous groups dedicated to providing water and sanitation. Perhaps you belong to one or regularly receive email alerts from one or more. You might want to google “organizations concerned about water” to learn about many others.

But these organizations only exist because of the bad news. People in the United States often think of water problems as happening in other countries, but recent news accounts testify to water shortages and pollution even in the United States. Some examples, here and elsewhere:

 California drought

California is facing an historic drought expected to become the worst in its history. imagesThis will ruin the state’s agriculture and ranching; already ranchers are selling off their stocks. With 90% of the state gripped by drought (62% in “extreme” drought), 2014 could become a giant fire year. Federal officials from the Department of Agriculture have designated ten other US states as disaster areas due to drought.

 West Virginia pollution

images-2 Freedom Industry in West Virginia recently spilled dangerous coal-washing chemicals into the Elk River that put 300,000 West Virginians at risk and cut off their safe water supply. In violation of West Virginia law, Freedom Industries did not report the spill immediately. Schools in at least five counties were closed for days, and hospitals had to rely on bottled water donations.

 Pakistan groundwater

Bottled water is a huge threat to water in Pakistan (and other countries) because industries like Nestlé drain groundwater to make its bottled water. This destroys a country’s natural resource and forces people to purchase their own water back. Villages become uninhabitable. Nestlé’s current chairman was caught on tape saying that water is “not a right.” This violates law as well as common sense and morality.

According to figures compiled by the local environmental office, only 5 percent of the water remains.

Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country. Iran’s largest lake has only 5% of its previous water. President Hassan Rouhani has identified water as a national security issue.

 Bolivian water wars

While searching for films about water in Spanish that I could recommend in my Lent

Cocha

2014 resource: Tengo Sed: Un Viaje Cuaresmal de Desierto a Jardin, I watched a film about the Water Wars in Bolivia in 2000. Even the Rain juxtaposes treatment of indigenous peoples under Spanish conquerors with Bolivians fighting against privatization of their water in 2000. (I judged it too violent for many viewers, and some would object to the language. In addition, it stops with a happy ending that omits the water struggles that continue to this day.) Privatization and taking water for bottling causes untold hardships and wastes water and energy. Other films — e.g., Flow – for Love of Money, Tapped, and Blue Gold — address this issue.

 Lent resource: I Thirst100_0452_2

Anyone wishing to heighten his/her appreciation of the wonder of water, its sacredness, its precariousness globally, and how we can respond in faith might consider using, alone or in a group, the five-session Lent resource found at https://ecospiritualityresources.com/lent: I Thirst: A Lenten Journey from Desert to Garden. Grounded in the cosmic story, this free resource includes components that have made my Advent and Lent resources useful on four continents: reflection, input, sharing, action suggestions, group prayer, and socializing. creativity is encouraged.

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