“The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul but also to discover God in all things…..”
The environmental crisis is a crisis for which we are all responsible. Perhaps everyone does not view it from the same perspective as a saint or pope but we all bear some responsibility and we must recognize and take responsibility.
Is Disrespect for the Earth Sinful?
At the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, Pope Francis said, "We should be introducing — we were thinking — in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology...”
Whether or not you view disrespect for our earth and its creatures as sin, let us not sugar coat it. It is sinful. Recently released videos show a whale caught in plastic bags and another shows a whale who died after swallowing plastic.
Fish are unable to swim in waste-filled water. Air is polluted. The litany continues and while we cannot prevent natural disasters, we can do our part to keep the earth clean and its creatures safe. And we must do this for each other, so that our children may live in a safer and cleaner environment. We must do our part to educate those who are unaware and to not support the large corporations who are largely responsible for polluting our air and water. It is a difficult task but it is not impossible.
“At its core, the environmental crisis is a moral challenge. It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth, what we pass on to future generations, and how we live in harmony with God's creation.”
As Catholics, we are blessed to have patron saints. We can pray for their intercession. A good place to begin prayer for our earth is with Saint Francis, a role model for love of the environment. Saint Francis had such a great connection to the environment that he wrote the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, a prayer praising God for creating the earth and all its creatures.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, because of her Native American heritage and love for the earth, is also a patron of the environment. Saint Barbara is the patron of storms. Others include Saint Medard, patron of bad weather, Saint Patrick, the patron organic gardening, and Saint Phocas is the patron saint of gardeners and agricultural workers.
Saving our environment begins with prayer; a prayer of thankfulness to God for its creation. It begins with reverence toward the earth, its creatures and each other. We honor our earth by caring for it, treating it respectfully and teaching others to do the same. Oceans, forests, mountains, or a field of flowers are reminders of what we stand to lose if we don’t honor God by honoring His earth, an earth He has placed in our care.
Rob Clemenz found a way to remind us of this by creating hand painted patron saint medals which he offers via his website, SaintsforSinners. Wearing or carrying a Saint Francis medal can be a reminder of the gratitude we owe to God for having created this beautiful world and in that, giving us all we need to survive.
“The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations, and towards humanity as a whole.”