Following Francis—the Saint and the Pope

A Reflection for Earth Day  2013
By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH

April 22, 2013—Earth Day.  It has been 43 years since that first Earth Day.  This year it will be celebrated in 192 countries—the largest secular holiday in the world with more than a billion people worldwide acknowledging the importance and the fragility of the environment we share.

earthday2013logoAlthough much progress has been made over the last four decades, environmental issues often get the back burner while legislatures and governments attend to matters that seem more immediate or threatening.

And, unfortunately, the care of our Earth is often politicized and those who seek to protect our fragile planet are dismissed and referred to as “tree huggers.”

(Although many of us take that as a compliment—try it!)

As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for our Earth; we are the stewards of this planet.  It is especially timely that we should pause and think about our environment on Earth Day this year:  Our new Pope has chosen Francis as his papal name in honor of the saint from Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology.

In his inaugural Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the need to be protectors:

“It means protecting all creation,” he said, “the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.  It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live….which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.”

pope-francis-leads-easter-mass-st-peters-square-vaticanHis ministry in Argentina, along with statements he has made as Pope, suggest that Francis considers care for the Earth to be entwined with care for the poor.

And his commitment is more than words from the pulpit.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he did his part for the health of our planet.  In the Archbishop’s palace, he used only one room for himself, because he did not want the heating to be turned on when there was no staff.  He preferred to take public transportation and spoke regularly about the “increasing alienation of the Earth and the problems of the environment” on his weekly television program in Buenos Aires.

We can all follow his lead.  Each of us can make a difference and we can begin with a few small things that can effect real change:

–Use only the water you need and reuse where possible.  Take shorter showers.
–Use environmentally friendly cleaning products
–Use “human powered” methods of transportation whenever possible, i.e. walk,               jog, skip, ride a bike)
–Carpool to work or take pubic transportation
–Buy locally or grow your own.
–Plant a tree (and hug it!)
–Eliminate or reduce usage of pesticides
–Turn off lights when you are not in the room
–Use energy-saving light bulbs
–Recycle!  Reuse!
–Don’t litter
–Avoid plastic bags
–Participate in local environmental groups
–Support local efforts to “go green”
–Pray that our political leaders have the wisdom and insight to protect our Earth
–Stay informed: www.epa.gov (Environmental Protection Agency)

Here is part of an Earth Day blessing by Diana Macalintal:

new beginnings 1“God of all creation…Send your Holy Spirit over this sacred land we call home, that the earth may be radiant with your glory through the care of your people.

From east to west and north to south, may your blessing be upon every living thing you have created….”

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One Response to Following Francis—the Saint and the Pope

  1. Dolores SSJ says:

    Dolly, thank you for your words of wisdom. I’ll have to “hug a tree”. Dolores SSJ

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