April 19, 2019

Be Our Guest / Linda Gorrell

Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to thank God for his beautiful creation

Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22, and events are planned throughout the world in support of the environment and to help raise awareness for the need to protect and care of our planet.

Pope Francis wrote an encyclical in 2015 titled “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” It is a request for all of us to deeply reflect on our interaction with Mother Earth and the consequences of our actions. We are asked to accept responsibility for our own actions, and to alter our way of thinking and begin anew with a deeper understanding of our role in God’s creation.

St. Francis of Assisi asks us to take a look at our life, and to prayerfully consider what is really necessary to live a life in harmony with our Creator.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in 2001 called “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue Prudence and the Common Good.” There are many Catholic-based groups that have begun this task.

One of the most well-known groups in the United States is “Catholic Climate Covenant.” They are a great support group for churches and other organizations who would like some direction on how to begin forming teams within our churches and communities. Several schools, churches, convents, seminaries and dioceses belong to this organization.

Over the past few years, we have heard the phrases “climate change” and “global warming,” and these words tend to almost be fighting words, at times political and divisive.

Pope Francis asserts there is no doubt that climate change is a reality, and it is affecting our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Earth Day is a good opportunity to start paying attention to what’s happening to our common home. We should educate ourselves regarding the reality of this crisis situation and join together to find ways in our “little world” to live day to day in such ways that will affect Mother Earth in good ways.

Our creation care team at St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute was encouraged by our pastor (Conventual Franciscan Father Martin Day) to take small steps and not become overwhelmed by the big picture of climate change. He reminded us that as individuals, as a group, as a community and as Church we can make a difference.

Here are several ideas for celebrating Earth Day:

  • Pray for all of God’s creation.
  • Discuss ways you can make a difference with family members.
  • Make a commitment to “change.”
  • Read Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’.”
  • Sign up for e-mails from Catholic Climate Covenant at catholicclimatecovenant.org.
  • E-mail, call or write your senators and congressman about issues regarding God’s creation.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  • Re-use what you can.
  • Don’t buy plastic or Styrofoam when you can buy paper. If you belong to a committee, suggest it use paper products.
  • Stop buying water in individual bottles. Carry your own container.
  • Say “no” to straws and plastic bags. They are destroying our water, and the animals that live in them.

Earth Day is a perfect opportunity for us as individuals or as a community of faith believers to thank God for this beautiful creation and for giving us the responsibility to care for all that is of God.

(Linda Gorrell is a member of St. Benedict Parish in Terre Haute and a member of the Order of Secular Franciscans.)

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