Almost three years ago, Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si, a letter to the world about how human beings have to change our ways for the sake of our sister, Mother Earth, and I was very hopeful that it would be the catalyst for major ecological efforts in Catholic churches, and, at the very least, lead to more prayer and reflection designed to make our communities more aware of environmental issues. But while our Catholic liturgies often give passing mention to human beings affected by poverty, oppression and natural disasters, they still ignore the plight of our planet's other zillions of creatures. Praying "for our good and the good of all creation" isn't really on our radar, and I have yet to hear a priest give a homily on something found in Laudato Si.
Other churches have been on the Earth Day bandwagon for years, and do all kinds of things on Earth Sunday and other Sundays to raise their communities' awareness of the importance of reducing human impact on our planet. Here are just a few ideas adopted by other Christian denominations:
--Art and Garden shows (a bit too early to do that here this year, though we could do the art part!)
--Seedy Sunday Gardeners' Gatherings where seeds are swapped and composting is taught
--Speakers about Indigenous Spirituality and Creation Care
--Walk, Bike or Bus to Church Day
--Community litter collection on church grounds and in local parks
--Church energy efficiency audits
and even solar panel blessings!
And these are just a few ideas. Lots more can be accessed by clicking here. Personally, I would really love to hear a good homily on how being good to our planet is part of living Christ's imperative to do to others as we would have them do to us, and encouraging us to reduce our impact on the earth. And not just one homily on Earth Sunday... many homilies, on many other Sundays throughout the year, with bits and pieces taken directly from Laudato Si, backed with solid ideas for environmentally friendly actions that individuals can undertake. In fact, it's been on my mind so much that I'm tempted to write some Laudato Si homily helps and post them here on a regular basis, if only I can find the time.
Today I might write about how our Good Shepherd looks at every being in creation, not only people, as his sheep. It wouldn't be theologically correct to suggest that God worries as much as I do about the 76 remaining Salish Sea Orcas whose existence will be even more threatened by tanker traffic and potential oil spills if the Kinder Morgan Pipeline goes through. However, I'm sure that nature would be better off, and we along with it, if we could find ways to rely less on fossil fuels for the sake of all of God's amazing creatures. So my homily help would include a recommendation that we find ways to cut our fossil fuel use for at least one day this week. It might mean extra effort or inconvenience on our parts, and it might not have a huge impact on our planet, but if enough of us do one small thing, small things add up.
It's all been said before, but it needs to be repeated until it really makes a difference. Our churches have been so focused on our souls and the things of heaven for so long that it seems we're forgetting about the things of earth that we're also supposed to look after. What's the old saying? Act like everything depends on you, and pray like everything depends on God. Catholics seem to be good at the latter, but the former needs attention too!
Here's my favourite prayer from Laudato Si, below. Pray it with me? And then think of and carry through on your own action to live more lightly on our earth in the week ahead...
|from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home © Libreria Editrice Vaticana|