Tag Archive | Pope Francis

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day Reflection

It’s no secret that Mother Earth is fighting for her life amidst attitudes and policies that misunderstand and threaten her. As we look towards Earth Day 2018, it might help to remember her 4.5-billion-year life story. It proves that our current situation is not the first major challenge Mother Earth has faced and solved. Over the billions of years of her lifetime, Earth has shown the creativity she needed for her survival.

Evolutionary examples

More than 2.3 billion years ago, Earth’s multicellular forms began producing oxygen by photosynthesis. After about 200 million years, the overproduction of oxygen in her atmosphere resulted in severe extinctions of organisms. But, lo!, Earth evolved aerobic organisms that consumed oxygen and thus created a positive equilibrium. Earth survived to face new challenges and new solutions.

By 1970, pollution in the United States was so severe that environmental activists, students and legislators initiated Earth Day. Resulting regulations, laws, awareness and organizations brought relief to the planet and life within it. Earth Day is now celebrated in over 190 countries, and concerted actions are taken to protect our Mother Earth.

Contemporary evolution

Perhaps her current threats are just what’s needed to birth what Thomas Berry called the new human — an evolutionary stage of life where we develop an awareness of our “gravitational bonding with the universe itself and within each of its components, and the intimate presence of each component of the universe with other components, a mystical attraction, you might say.” The threats of our time urgently call us “to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.”

No small task, that! Berry writes: “Such a transition has no historical parallel since the geobiological [and astro-biologiocal] transition that took place 67 million years ago….” Regenerations followed disaster.

Pope Francis sees signs that this is happening — what he calls “authentic humanity” dwelling “in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door.” (Laudato Si’, par. 112) There is a growing awareness that everything is interrelated and sacred.  Millions of people gather in multiple countries to support policies based on respect and concern for all life, knowing we are part of a communion of subjects rather than of a collection of isolated objects. This never happened, never could have happened, on Earth before our time.

Because of the way evolution works, it is impossible to predict how we will respond to current challenges. But, being part of the human species, we can deepen our ability to see in wholes and tap into the Love that lives and acts in us and in all creation.

Earth Day Prayer

Pause for several minutes’ quiet reflection on the wonder, earth_from_space_5_1920x1080variety, individuality and “interbeing” of Earth’s existence in our solar system and universe.

Litany: Let us join in thanking for the gift of Earth. Take turns reading the following litany.
Response:  … 
we give thanks.

–  for the creative love active from the first flaring forth, when Earth’s 13.8-billion-year story begins, … we give thanks.

–  for Mother Earth’s continuing evolution from stardust through its 4.5-billion-year story so far, … we give thanks.

–  for Earth’s ability to create, to heal, to diversify, to adapt, to be intrinsically interconnected, … we give thanks. 

–  for the gifts of water, soil, air, climate, flora and fauna, and the bioregions that developed over millennia, … we give thanks.

Unknown-1–  for the colorful and nurturing gifts that developed in our era: flowers and trees, fish and mammals, human beings who collaborated and bonded to further their species, … we give thanks.

–  for the creative ways that Earth developed to heal the challenges that Earth has encountered during her long story, … we give thanks.

–  for the people celebrating Earth Day in nearly 200 countries, … we give thanks.

–  for Pope Francis, whose commitment to care for our common home inspires people and organizations throughout the world, … we give thanks.

– for the leaders and legislators who have provided direction and laws that assist our planet to flourish, … we give thanks.

–  Add as you wish.

Share one image or experience that brought you awe or wonder this week.

Litany: Let us deepen our commitment to care for Earth. Take turns reading the following litany.
Response:  may we take action.

Water-Drought – Because stockpiles of nuclear weapons threaten all life whether or not they are ever used, may we take action.

– Because climate change already causes massive damage to all life on Earth, may we take action.

– Because multiple causes are resulting in a Sixth Major Extinction of life on Earth, may we take action.

–  Because mono-crops and farming with harmful chemicals result in inferior food and spoiled soil and water, may we take action. 

greenpeace31–  Because pollution, especially from plastics, is trashing so much of our planet including our oceans, may we take action.

– Because deforestation ruins soil, water, air, and all life, may we take action.

–  Because human greed and consumerism exploit humans and other species and resources, may we take action.

–  Because so many suffer from problems caused by environmental damage, may we take action.

Pause for a few moments’ quiet reflection. Share if you wish: What will we do, alone and/or with others, to enhance Earth’s future?

Sing: “Holy Now” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiypaURysz4) or similar song/hymn of praise for creation

GLOBAL ONENESS DAY and UNITED NATIONS DAY OCTOBER 24th

Halloween is not the only day to celebrate this month! Tuesday, October 24th, is a double-header — Global Oneness Day and United Nations Day. This is a day to nurture and elevate our consciousness of unity and the organizations that can further our living as One.

We celebrate the awesome and indisputable fact of our biological and atomic unity and also celebrate the existence of an institution founded by 51 member states in 1945. Seventy-two years later it contains 193 members (plus two observer states). Despite having quadrupled its original size, it still makes communication possible among its widely disparate members, and it still fosters many services that help the needy throughout the world. So, both in spirit and with leaders of all nations, let us CIRCLE THE WORLD WITH LOVE on October 24th!

To many our unity seems obvious. Yet violence, prejudices, “isms,” phobias, and delusions of independence and superiority persist. Sad!

These days many seek knowledge of their ancestral roots and watch TV shows that explore other peoples’ roots. We usually delight in discovering close or distant relatives, and want to understand our connections. Yet we forget or don’t realize that all life on Earth — and all creation —has been connected from the start. Curt Stager (Your Atomic Self) writes: “To look into the night sky is to survey distant gardens in which the elements of life are ripening, and your body is a composite harvest from these cosmic fields … Earth is indeed a kind of surrogate mother to us in that our bodies are derived from it, but we exist today only because our true star mothers died long ago.”

We also share Earth’s current and potential-future calamities. Mary Southard, CSJ, sees the positive side: “We as a nation and a planet have been hammered by fires, floods, hurricanes, natural disasters of all kinds these past months.  We are living in a moment of unparalleled crisis in Earth’s natural systems, and challenge to our human intelligence to respond in this unprecedented OPPORTUNITY to create the world we all want to live in. . . .  .”

So let us use October 24th as an opportunity to deepen our own awareness of our moment in creation’s spacetime. We know so much more about our interdependence than did past generations, and have vast opportunities to learn more. Let us include learning more about the United Nations and the unique services it offers. (c.f. www.un.org/en/sections/history/history-united-nations/index.html)          

Recently we’ve seen examples of people coming to the aid of others endangered by violence as well as by floods, storms, fires, and other calamities. October 24th would be a perfect day to join those who are awakening to our global responsibilities for one another and all life.

Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton recently coined the phrase “climate swerve” to describe the massive climate awakening that’s finally happening in the US. [Many other countries are way ahead of us!] These kinds of tragedies across the nation and world are creating unprecedented receptivity as people search for solutions. Now is our time to reach more people than ever and actually build the political power to change the current systems.

Many of our problems and systems were created before humans realized their interdependence with one another and all creation. Albert Einstein said that “No problem  can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Oct. 24th is a good day to alter our level of consciousness in order to solve these problems!

Einstein also gives this advice, perfect for contemplation alone or together on Oct. 24th:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Pope Francis agrees. In Laudato Si’ he writes:

“We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” (par. 2)

“People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption.” (par. 55)

“It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation.” (par. 138)

Jesus prayed that all would be one. Today we need to pray that we accept that reality and act accordingly. May I suggest that we save some time on Oct. 24th to expand our consciousness by rereading parts of Laudato Si’ or by learning more about the United Nations or by pausing in awe to consider how interconnected and interdependent we are — with all creation, from the very beginning!

SEASON OF CREATION 2017

From September 1— proclaimed a Day of Prayer for Creation by the Orthodox in 1989 and repeated by Pope Francis in 2015 — through the feast of St. Francis on October 4, Christians of all denominations and locations are invited to participate in an ecumenical SEASON OF CREATION. 

People of all faiths or no faiths can certainly join. International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Sept. 16; International Day of Peace, Sept. 21; and World Habitat Day, Oct. 2, obviously fall within the Season of Creation.

Pope Francis quotes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “the Green Patriarch,” several times in Laudato Si’’. In the following quote, Bartholomew lays a foundation for the Season of Creation. He says that we are called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust on our planet.” (par. 9)

During the Season of Creation we are asked to ponder that sacrament. Pope Francis’ provides many quotes to contemplate. For example: “The universe unfolds in God, who  fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.” (par. 233)

Caring for creation, then, is a religious, moral, and ethical matter, and should never have become a divisive political one. Earth’s vitality is required for all life on our planet and it affects every industry and occupation. It is not an optional choice, nor should it be a grim one. Laudato Si’ bids us to “sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” (par. 244)

Please mark your calendars for the Season of Creation and note the days left to prepare for it. Time to get planning!

Among actions you might consider taking are the following:

  • PRAYER: Initiate or join an ecumenical prayer service. The Season of Creation serves as an important witness of how Christians, regardless of their denominational line, are united in prayer and action for the planet. For extra significance, assemble in front of sites of ecological destruction (e.g., fossil fuel site, polluting or polluted area).
  • Components of prayer services (for groups or individuals) could include gratitude for Earth’s beauty and life-sustaining abilities; contemplation of our interrelationships with creation; sharing grief and sorrow for the destruction currently underway; pledging action for earth. Be sure to include singing! Pope Francis’  Prayer for Our Earth concludes this blog. Suggestion for prayer service can be found here:  creation-prayer-suggestion: https://ecospiritualityresources.com/2017/08/29/.
  • ACTION (group and private): Include a positive action to heal “the last speck of  ust” in your area. Perhaps plant a tree, bless solar panels, collect and recycle plastic pollution, write letters to legislators, etc. Maryknoll  suggests this action: Join the “Big Shift Global” Campaign to ask the World Bank to shift all of its projects away from fossil fuels and to 100 percent renewable energy. Here’s a fact sheet that explains the campaign.
  • LIFESTYLE CHOICES: Patriarch Bartholomew does not soft-pedal his advice in Laudato Si’ (par. 9): “… replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which ‘entails learning to give, and not simply to give up.’ ”   Deepening our consciousness and understanding during the almost-five weeks is another good option. Try reading a book and discussing it with others. (See suggestions at ecospiritualityresources.com.)
  • If you are not already part of a local group, this would be a good time to join one or to start one with people who attended the prayer/ action.

Pope Francis’ Prayer for our Earth, which follows paragraph 246 in Laudato Si’, is as follows:

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe

and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love,

that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live

as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,

help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,

so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,

that we may protect the world and not prey on it,

that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts

of those who look only for gain

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,

to be filled with awe and contemplation,

to recognize that we are profoundly united

with every creature

as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle

for justice, love and peace.