Written on: November 1, 2021
The following, written by Sister Eileen White, GNSH, appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times. It is re-posted here with permission.
October is nearly behind us now and it was a lovely month. The Season of Creation celebrated in September and ending October 4th on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology, provided us with some absolutely beautiful weather in the Delaware Valley. The Season of Creation is an ecumenical celebration of Earth, and a renewed commitment not only to notice the gift of nature, but to do all we can to end its destruction and preserve it for future generations. Its 2021 logo featured Abraham’s tent –recalling how Abraham and Sarah opened their tent as a home for three strangers, who turned out to be God’s angels (Genesis 18). The Season of Creation website explains,
“Abraham’s tent is a symbol of our ecumenical call to practice creation care as an act of radical hospitality, safeguarding a place for all creatures, human and more human, in our common home, the household (oikos) of God.”
I have lived most of my life in places where all four seasons are clear. Choosing my favorite is impossible; I love them all. Having lived in a southern hemisphere tropical desert for several years, I have a greater appreciation of our changing seasons and of water. Returning north, I danced in the rain! Years in the mountains of North Carolina and later in Buffalo, New York, gave me awe and wonder at snowdrifts, whiteouts, snowplows, and ice, as well as the poetry of snowflakes and winter silence. And is there anyone whose breath is not taken away by the magnificence of sunlight on the hues of spring blossoms or the crimson and gold of autumn’s transformation?
In his encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis challenges us to recognize what is happening to our common home and to acknowledge the human roots of the ecological crisis. The words, Laudato Si’, come from a canticle attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
“Praise be to You, my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us”.
Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’ in 2015 and is now asking Catholics throughout the world as well as all people of faith to make a seven year commitment to address the challenges of climate change and the impact they are having and will have on those made poor and on future generations.
When the seasons are kind to us, it is so easy, isn’t it, to take nature for granted. But millions of acres of forest fires; hurricane wind, rain and floods; drought; communities obliterated by rise of sea level – these do get our attention. Pope Francis invites every world citizen and every community network to ecological conversion. The Laudato Si’ platform calls for responding to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor. It calls for education and spirituality as well as community involvement and action. It begs for ecological economics and adoption of simple lifestyles.
Early in October, almost 40 faith leaders representing the world’s major religions joined scientists at the Vatican to call on the international community to step up their climate action ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November in Glasgow. (COP21 is known as the Paris Agreement) They pleaded,
Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children. Scientists have warned us that there might be only one decade left to restore the planet. We plead with the international community, gathered at COP26, to take speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship. We appeal to everyone to join us on this common journey.
The Laudato Si’ 7-year platform addresses seven aspects of ecological conversion by seven entities. Each entity – families, parishes, schools, colleges, health care centers, businesses and farms, and religious orders – is invited to focus on what we can do, how we can change or how we can “walk the talk.” In an effort to make our commitment concrete and measureable, my Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart community is focusing on advocating for alternatives to plastic, avoiding purchasing plastic and reusing plastic we cannot avoid – a tall order in today’s plastic-permeated world.
Read more about how the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart are responding to the invitation to ecological conversion here.