“In this Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family.” Pope Francis, Earth Day 2020
The growing signs of springtime wonder can help renew us as we deal with this third wave of the pandemic. Our own health and wellbeing is deeply interconnected with the health and wellbeing of others and our common planetary home. Yet inequalities are deepening as climate change, the pandemic and vaccine shortage continue to disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable.
The pandemic has not put climate change on hold. Earlier this month NOAA reported that greenhouse gas emissions surged in 2020 despite pandemic shutdowns. Carbon dioxide reached a level last seen on earth around 3.6 million years ago when sea levels were about 78 feet higher and large forests grew in the Arctic.
“Advent is a continuous call to hope…Let us try to bring out the good even from the difficult situation that the pandemic imposes upon us” Pope Francis, November 29, 2020.
People of faith seeking to “change the wind” towards justice and compassion
In an Advent reflection, Fr. Ron Rolheiser gives an example of hope from Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners, of how people of faith helped bring down apartheid in South Africa. They prayed and placed lit candles in their windows for all to see a sign of their hope that apartheid would end. Despite their government making the lit candles a crime, that prayerful act of hope “changed the wind in South Africa” and helped end apartheid. Wallis explains that politicians make decisions based on which way the wind is blowing so hope’s task is “to change the wind”.
Season of Creation’s invitation to rest and restoration for the Earth community
Christians around the world are coming together to pray and care for creation during the ecumenical Season of Creation which has just begun, running from September 1st, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Jubilee for the Earth is the Season of Creation 2020 theme. In the biblical tradition, every 50th year was a Jubilee year involving release from indebtedness, restorative justice and rest for creation. In a joint invitation to participate in the Season of Creation, faith leaders reflect on the meaning of Jubilee today, stating “As we live into a post-COVID-19 world, can we imagine new just and sustainable ways of living that give the Earth the rest it requires, that satisfy everyone with enough, that restore habitats and renew biological diversity?... We encourage the entire Christian family to join us in this special time to pray, reflect, and take bold action to realize a Jubilee for the Earth."
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?" Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #160
Celebrating the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’ with dialogue and solidarity around the future of our common home
In the five years since Pope Francis signed his groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’ calling on everyone to care for our common home, the ecological crisis has intensified and the current coronavirus pandemic is laying bare the deep injustices and inequalities still present in our world. Laudato Si’ continues to be a compelling source of hope, guidance and inspiration for creative initiatives including the formation of the Global Catholic Climate Movement which has grown to over 900 member organizations seeking to bring Laudato Si’ to life and respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
On March 30th, more than 80 religious leaders from across Canada sent out a common message of hope, gratitude and solidarity to all Canadians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message calls us to “witness hope to each other and so become beacons of light during these uncertain times” and expresses gratitude to all health care and other front-line workers as well as to religious and political leaders. The religious leaders emphasize “This is a time for human solidarity” and that greater attention needs to be given to the most vulnerable including the homeless, the incarcerated, Indigenous Peoples, refugees and our global neighbours with fewer resources to face this crisis.
Article written by Iseult Hayden and Marilyn Grace on behalf of EcoAnselm
EcoAnselm is a fourteen-member ministry of ecology within St. Anselm’s Roman Catholic Church in Toronto.
This past October, following the Season of Creation, EcoAnselm hosted our first “All-Ministry Eco-Evening: Dialogue on Caring for Creation”. In response to the urgent appeal of Pope Francis, representatives from each area of ministry at St. Anselm’s joined in dialogue about how we, as a parish community, can proactively participate in shaping the future of our planet.
“God lights up stars to help us keep walking... Christ himself is our great light of hope and our guide in the night, for he is the “bright morning star” (Rev 22:16).” Pope Francis.
Advent is a time of longing for God, a journey seeking transformation in our hearts and our world so that Christ’s light will shine more clearly. One of the transformations needed is found in Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of December, calling us to pray “that every country decides to take necessary measures to make the future of children a priority, especially the future of children who are suffering today”. He highlights that in every child who is marginalized, abandoned, without medical care… “is Christ, who came to our world as a defenseless child”.
The future of children, especially those suffering today, has yet to be prioritized by countries’ actions on climate change.
This past fall, during the Season of Creation, Holy Name started a Climate Action Group, where parishioners are able to discuss individual and collective action we can take to protect and care for the environment.
One of the first initiatives that came out of these conversations was the "Green Christmas" poster.
Resources to help plan a parish event on protecting biodiversity
Earth Day falls on Easter Monday this year so consider instead planning an event sometime during the Easter Season. Divine Mercy Sunday on April 28th can be a meaningful day for hosting an event in response to Pope Francis’ call that “the works of mercy also include care for our common home”. The following resources can help with planning an event and can be adapted for use at any time that fits best with the parish.