What can we deny ourselves to help heal our planet?
by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
The Season of Creation (Sept. 1 to Oct. 4) is the window through which we view this Sunday’s readings from Sacred Scripture.
This summer, the news about climate events has been relentless. Humans (and other species) have been suffering from extremes in weather. Record-breaking heat, devastating fires, extreme drought, unprecedented rainfall. Climate change, brought on by human activity, underlies the intensity and frequency of these events, scientists say. We must urgently act to halt emissions of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, and rapidly transition to clean energy sources.
Pope Francis chose a line from the prophet Amos as the theme for this year’s ecumenical Season of Creation: “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (5:24). Amos proclaimed God’s justice to the Israelites, urging them to be faithful to God’s covenant. In the Sacred Scripture for Sunday we hear the prophet Jeremiah tell of his weariness as God’s messenger, but also how the message burned within him.
Perhaps, like Jeremiah, we grow weary of proclaiming: “Let us care for our Sister Mother Earth!” We hear people deny the relationship between extreme weather and climate change. They deride and ridicule us for recommending changes in our choices and lifestyle. Do we then, like Jeremiah, say to ourselves:
We give up! We can’t speak about it anymore.
We will no longer cry out about creation care.
But then concern for Sister Mother Earth . . .
“becomes like fire burning in our hearts, imprisoned in our bones;
We grow weary holding it in, we cannot endure it.”
We must speak out! We must act!
With St. Paul, we offer our bodies as “a willing sacrifice” for the good of Mother Earth. We willingly deny ourselves and take up the cross of creation care. We reject a consumerist lifestyle. We choose to walk contemplatively, praising God for the bounteous gifts of sun, wind, water, and soil. We accept persecution by others when we relentlessly lift our voices about what we can do, what we must do for the love of Mother Earth.
Let us not count the cost but rather enter fully into this Season of Creation and its call to ecological conversion. In Laudato Si’ (Art. 220), Pope Francis shares the attitudes and changes within ourselves that can result from an ecological conversion. Its fruits will be evident in our:
- gratitude and gratuitousness (recognition that the world is God’s loving gift)
- generosity in self-sacrifice and good works
- loving awareness of a universal communion with the rest of creation
- greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s climate problems
- responsible care of Sister Mother Earth based on faith