Tag Archive | World Environment Day

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and World Environment Day

The following guest blog was written by counseling and educational psychologist Clare Pierson (http://www.hesed.net.nz/) who lives in Mawhera Greymouth, Aotearoa New Zealand. Welcome, Clare!

As World Environment Day (June 5) approaches, I ask myself these questions:
“Who am I? Where am I standing?  What is my unique task?” 

collarThe writings of one Jesuit — the mystic, scientist, and theologian who set alight the spark first enkindled in me by my childhood immersion in the bushes, the flowers, fish, birds  and animals, the creeks, rivers, lakes and ocean of my home on the West Coast of the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand — provide the foundation for my responses. The radiant warmth of his face and the way in which his writings gave words to my felt experiences of the Divine have influenced my thinking and life for over 50 years.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, born 1 May 1881 in Sarcenat, France, died on Easter Sunday, 10 April 1955. Just three years before, as a teenager, I was inspired and filled with relief by what he wrote in Le Milieu Divin. Concerns about the environment had not reached the prominence then that have developed since his death, but what he wrote  provides a sound basis for caring for our Earth and all beings in her.1863405355_75e91f0db5_b

  In the beginning was the Power, intelligent, loving, energising.
In the beginning was the Word, supremely capable of mastering
and moulding whatever might come into being in the world of matter.
In the beginning there was not coldness and darkness: there was the Fire!
This is the truth. It is the Light, existing before all else was made,
Which patiently, surely eliminates our  darkness.
(The Mass on the World)

The Origin of Love

Trinity, Love (1 John 4), a perichoresis, a dance of Beings in love, a Communion or Community of love before time and space erupted into being. Love by nature gives, love flows out beyond the self and brings new life – there was the great flaring forth of Love from this Community of Love that began the ongoing creation of all that is. All energy in the universe is the love of the Source of all Being poured out and manifested as matter and energy/spirit/mind. The universe spoken by the Word Incarnate, began to develop 13.7 billion years ago and continues to be expressed in ongoing evolution. All communions, past present and to come, are one communion.

Every being in the universe, from the smallest particle to the most intelligent human, has a “within” (subjectivity, interiority – spirit, autopoesis, type of sentience or consciousness) and a “without” (outside – matter). Spirit and matter are but different manifestations of the same thing and one can change into the other.

Evolution’s Trajectory

According to Teilhard, from the very beginning there was the potential for life, for the development of increasing consciousness, and a trajectory in the unfolding of the universe, of Earth, being drawn forward from the future by the Christ, the Omega. If there were not, there would be no life, no consciousness and no trajectory now. Every being, everything in our environment, is sacred, worthy of respect and nothing is profane in Earth.

For the Christian believer, the universal consecration, the universal communion concentrates all effort and work on earth, all suffering on earth, in a convergence upon God and the reality of Jesus the Christ, Omega. Teilhard wrote that the most compelling and profound way of describing the evolution and trajectory of the universe would be to trace the evolution of love from the flaring forth of Love at the beginning of time and space to a unity of all beings drawn by Love from the future by Christ Omega into one Community of Love in Christ – in God. All beings, not just human beings, are One and are sacred.

Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world
Seek each other so that the world may come into being.
(Cosmos to Cosmogenesis)

So who am I and where am standing this World Environment Day?  

1455203_10152336992358332_1008870851_nI am a sacred being brought forth from Earth by Earth with an interiority and a body — spirit and matter — one whole, unique being caught up in a web of being, of life that is totally interconnected in relationship. I stand on and in earth as a being who owes my existence to all the evolutionary processes and who was brought forth by all the beings who came before me. I am part of the ecosystems of this land, dependent on the ecological sustainability of my environment, of all beings in it and of Earth as a whole.

I belong to the first species
– that was and is the Universe able to reflect on itself and
– that is able to make free choices that can affect — for good or ill — every other being in the universe.

What is my unique task? 

I and my fellow humans possess an enormous responsibility to continue that trajectory of love in the evolving universe. My unique task is
– to become who I really am
– to live according to the dynamic processes of the universe and in relationship with all other beings;
– to promote the health of the earth, myself and other beings;
– to avoid doing anything destructive of Earth, myself and other beings;
– to allow myself to be allured by, drawn consciously within the radiant beings all around me;
– to deepen contemplative oneness with Love in all that is.

Each day I need to become more attuned to the numinosity, the radiance of everything around me, to “see” in the essential way as described by Teilhard, and at the same time to seek out knowledge, to be mindful of being one with what Teilhard calls the noosphere, the “envelope of human thought around Earth,” to ensure that I am ever open to responding to where the Christ Omega is drawing me forward from the future.

Teilhard prayed:
O God, I wish from now on to be the first to become conscious
Of all that the world loves, pursues and suffers.
I want to be the first to seek, to sympathise and suffer;
The first to unfold and sacrifice myself to become
More widely human and more nobly of the earth
Than any of the world’s servants.

God who is Love, may I, may we, filled with your gifted fire of Love, Light, and Life, follow in the same footsteps as Teilhard, drawn by Christ Omega, as we live in life enhancing ways for all beings, all Earth, the whole universe.  Amen.


World Environment Day, Thursday, June 5, calls us to respond, however we can, to the crises afflicting our world. Some will pray in gratitude for the wonder of our evolution story and of our planet. We will ask to be empowered to respond adequately to global threats to Earth’s present and future, especially climate change and its ramifications.

You might want to use the following service for personal or group prayer. Adapt in any way that is helpful. For a two-sided copy of the prayer, click here: world.env.day.2014.  If you have suggestions for the prayer, please add them to the comments.

images 2     World Environment and Pentecost Prayer

All: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle within them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the Earth.

Reader 1: Renew the face of our Earth, loving Creator, as you can only do through us. Help us realize our part in Earth’s climatechange312way-bcbd4a49729066e8ac3f0fdfb4f9099b7ec9b826-s6-c30suffering and our call to act on behalf of our brothers and sisters and the global systems that sustain all life.

Reader 2: Four recent Climate Change reports have confirmed that the worst climate prediction made decades ago are being exceeded. We who believe that all life is interconnected and that the Mystery we call God has been living and acting in the cosmos for 13.8 billion years and in planet Earth throughout its 4.5-billion-year story, gather to respond to these reports on World Environment Day.

Reader 3 leads the intentions: Let us be grateful for the wonders of creation. Response is We are grateful.

– For the billions of years Earth has been evolving, and for being part of its continuing evolution,   We are grateful.

– For the gifts of the Spirit in all Creation, We are grateful.

For fresh, clear air, especially [anyone: name a time/ place where you especially appreciated clean air],   We are grateful.

– For rich, healthful soil, especially [anyone: name a time/ place where you especially appreciated rich dirt],   We are grateful. 273620,xcitefun-lake-matheson-1

For pure, cool water, especially [anyone: name a place/ time when you especially appreciated water],   We are grateful.

For healthful crops, especially [anyone: name one that you especially appreciate],   We are grateful.

For the thousands of species that grace our Earth, especially [name something that you especially love],   We are grateful.

For the interdependence that each of the above has with us and with one another,  We are grateful.

For all whose personal and organizational efforts help to renew our Earth,   We are grateful.

– For [whatever else you wish to name],   We are grateful.

SingHow Great Thou Art” or other appropriate hymn/song.

Reader 4: Some facts to consider:

A March 2014 Pentagon report found that climate change impacts are “threat multipliers,” and that the rapid rise of global temperatures and associated extreme weather events could exacerbate issues like “poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

–  55% of water in the United States are rated in “poor” condition: unfit for swimming, fishing, or drinking. The oil-floating-on-waterEnvironmental Protection Agency studies show that the problem is getting worse.

– Already people and other life forms are living with the effects of climate change: rising temperatures; drought and water shortages; unpredictable weather, disrupted seasons and failed crops; flooding, land loss and salination of vital water supplies; resulting increase in poverty, vulnerability, and the need to relocate.

– The carbon dioxide and methane increases resulting from the lifestyles of the wealthiest are damaging the poorest among us. The injustice of this demands correction.

What other facts concern you? Share.

Reader 5: from Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel, par.183: An authentic faith — which is never comfortable or 4completely personal — always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it. We love this magnificent planet … and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses.

Reader 6: from The Earth Charter: We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. … We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace . . . .

Share what you are already doing to improve the local/ global situation.

When everyone has had time to share, and perhaps to generate ideas for future action, pray together: 

Creator God, in your mercy, recreate our hearts that we might better partner with you to renew the face of this awesome but damaged Earth. Amen!

Optional: “Peril or Promise” from My Heart Is Moved, Caroline McDade.

World Environment Day


World Environment Day Prayer/Ritual 

The UISG/ USG (international leaders of religious women and men) invite and ask religious, friends and collaborators throughout the world to use the following prayer/ritual (created by Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ) for World Environment Day, June 5, 2013.


(Download pdf copy: 6_5_13_PrayerEnvironmentday)

Directions are in italics.

World Environment Day (WED) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 and first celebrated the following year. This was the first occasion on which the political, social and economic problems of the global environment were discussed at an intergovernmental forum with a view to actually taking corrective action. WED is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

protest-articleInlineSpeaker 1, Call to prayer: Let us begin with a deep awareness of the divine presence in all creation — including each of us — and a deep awareness of being part of our spinning planet as it speeds around our Sun. Let us ask the Spirit to help us renew the face of the Earth.

Pause to pray, in silence, spontaneously, or with a prayer familiar to the group.

S.2: Mining has become a compelling issue for many religious congregations. Unjust mining practices – of coal, gas, oil, diamonds, platinum, gold, uranium, and other minerals — are causing severe harm to individuals, to other beings, and to life systems of air, water, soil, and climate throughout our world.

S.3: We depend on Earth’s crust for many gifts such as our solid foundation, aquifers, farmland, trees, minerals, and metaphors for the divine. . . . Let us be grateful for these gifts.

Together: “Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.” St. Francis of Assisi

S.4: Minerals date to 4½ billion years ago when a starburst radiated all the elements now found in our planet. Over millions of years, Earth with its elements was formed. The early Earth was very hot, and fiery volcanoes spewed molten rock and minerals from its core. Eventually Earth formed a rigid crust above the core. Under the crust, constant churning altered, mixed, and multiplied the minerals, many of which are lodged in the crust. As the continents moved, plants and animals in sediments were buried in Earth’s depths. Over time these became crude oil and gas.

S.5: Let us respond to each fact about mining with a moment of silent reflection: Beginning with the Spanish conquistadores, Latin American became “an open vein” causing excessive human toil, suffering, and environmental destruction. This suffering and destruction continues today because of unjust mining practices. Silent reflection.

S.6: Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867. The resulting policies and events had an increasingly negative impact on justice and race relations in South Africa and formed the basis of the apartheid system that dominated South Africa for a century. Silent reflection.

S.7: More than 70% of global exploration and mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Mining is one of the most polluting industries in the world; it has a disproportionately negative impact on land-based communities, especially indigenous child-labor-ocngopeoples. Mining companies have removed farming communities from their lands in Colombia and South Africa, and they have failed to gain the indigenous peoples’ permission to operate on their land in the Philippines. Silent reflection.

S.8: Some minerals are mined by children in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses. In the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, millions of people have been killed, women are raped, villages are raided, people are displaced, land is ruined, and the gorilla population is threatened with extinction. Silent reflection.

S.9: To save the planet as we know it we must avoid an increase of 2 degrees                                                                                                                                                             Celsius in Earth’s atmosphere. We can burn no more than 565 billion tons of carbon-based fuel. But there are five times that many (2,795) already in reserve, and the oil, coal, and natural gas industries are looking for more. Silent reflection.

S.10: Mining operations are encountering resistance from both people and governments from Haiti to Bolivia to Peru. Global groups organize prayers, protests, letter-writing campaigns, and divestment activities to stop unjust and damaging mining practices. Silent reflection.


Depending on group size, invite people to share together or in 2’s – 3’s their thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears  on any one of the following. Clarify what signal will be used to end the discussion.

– The mining issue that most concerns me is . . . because . . . .
– My awareness that mining issues affect poverty, human dignity, and future generations was heightened when . . . because . . . .
– Concerning mining, I am inspired when I learn . . . because . . . .

End discussion and respond together: “The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”  Pope Benedict XVI, 2009

S.11: Centuries ago, Galileo Galilei wrote: “What greater stupidity can be imagined than that of calling jewels, silver, and gold “precious,” and earth and soil “base”? People who do this ought to remember that if there were as great a scarcity of soil as of jewels or precious metals there would not be a prince who would not spend a bushel of diamonds and rubies and a cartload of jewels just to have enough earth to plant a jasmine in a little pot, or to sow an orange seed and watch it sprout, grow, and produce its handsome leaves, its fragrant flowers, and fine fruit.”

Respond together: Bless the Lord, O my soul! O God, you are great! … You are clothed with justice and mercy … You set the earth on its foundations, strong and secure … At your word the mountains rose, the valleys became low in the places you did appoint. You brought harmony to all the earth. Excerpts from Psalm 104


LITANY: Please reply to our intercessions: We humbly ask empowerment.

– Let us pray that humanity may shift from an entirely human-centered view of our existence to a realization that Earth is a communion of subjects, a oneness of which we are all a part, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will eliminate or reduce the effects of current harmful mining practices, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will establish a more equal distribution of the benefits of mining, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will bring positive advancement to residents where resources are located, and will increase their participation in decision-making about their sacred land, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will find ways for mining companies and their shareholders to benefit from sustainable development, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will result in companies and governments respecting the limitations of natural resources and conserving the environment, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that our efforts and those of others will protect the needs of future generations, we humbly ask empowerment.

– that those whose hearts are “crusted” by greed and thoughtlessness will mine the treasures of love within, we humbly ask empowerment.


Final Speaker: Let us reflect quietly on what we can do to heal Earth from damaging mining82908southwingswisecountyvaa__WinCE_ 2 practices. (For example: ask government officials for better legislation; ask companies that need minerals — like Apple, Inc.— to police their supply chains; lobby for development of acceptable substitutes; recycle electronics; transition to renewable energy; divest from investments in fossil fuels and companies that allow human rights abuses.)  Pause to reflect.

Optional background music.

You are now invited to write on your paper what you will do this week to alleviate the negative aspects of the mining situation that most concerns you. Allow time for writing.

As you finish, place your paper in the empty dish. When everyone’s paper is in the dish, someone uses soil from the second dish to bury these promised efforts, the result of which will be “mined” by future generations. Remain standing, forming a circle around the dish for the closing prayer:

All: You have blessed us with good things and plenty; you have surrounded our table with joy. May we here present, and those we bring in our hearts, soon experience an improvement: in the working conditions of those who mine; in the care of our atmosphere, land, and water; and in humankind’s reverence for your gift to us of our unique home — Earth — for which we thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

If practical, someone takes the dish containing the group’s promises (in procession? with music? drumming? dancing?) and buries the promises. Or, plant something in the dish.