A turn toward a creation-centered and respect for all human life in our Christian spirituality is not something that is new. This has been the result of a century and a quarter of Catholic social teaching which has defined the position of the Christian believer to the earth and human life.
Our commitment to God is not a ‘sacristy faith’ that is lived out in the safety of the church building and its structures. Catholics have a very strong sense of responsibility towards the world and we live out our faith on the highways and the byways of life. We have not always been successful in living our commitment to Christ through our lifestyle. There will always be a few individuals who refuse to deal with the storms and the upsets that happen through the history of a single individual. There are many difficult moments to contend with as we move through life. For the Christian, this must always be done in conjunction with God.
For the past sixty years scientists have been warning earth’s citizens that the behavior of human beings is leading to the warming of the climate and destruction of the water and soil resources of the earth. If we humans change nothing we are heading for the collapse of the earth’s systems. The warming of the earth is happening slowly. Many people want to dismiss the danger. “There is nothing happening now, so why get excited.”
It has taken humanity two hundred and fifty years to move into the industrial revolution. It will take at least a hundred years to move into a life-sustaining type of life. Humans can save the planet earth. It is within our power to make all the necessary changes to our life style and our social values.
In 2015, when Pope Francis issued the encyclical, ‘Laudato si,” he brought the full weight of our faith convictions to saving the only home we have, our Mother Earth. He made no advances in the doctrines we believe in but he laid the challenge before all people of good will to care for the only home we have. He gave the traditional teachings of the Church much great impetus. We are challenged!
Spirituality and/or religious faith have incredible power to energize people to work towards social justice and a change in the life stye of our society. It can give energy to move individuals and entire communities to work towards achieving social justice. We need to be reminded that two hundred years ago it was the people of the Church who spearheaded and brought about the end to slavery in the British Empire.
The first group of people that should stand up to our responsibility to work towards a sustainable earth should be Christians. They are committed to our God who loves and cares for every part of the earth, even the smallest bacteria in the soil. If this is their God, what must the behavior of the believer be towards the earth? And a sustainable future?
This is where I need help. What are the prayers and spiritual practices that will connect me to the earth and to help creation thrive? What are the teachings that we must embrace to love and respect the earth?
What does my faith offer me to be a responsible earth citizen in 2020?