“Nothing in this World is Indifferent to Us”
The weather this spring has called our attention to both the beauty and power of nature. Despite snowfall, magnolia and cherry blossoms withstood the cold temperatures and bloomed beautifully. We have marveled at the strength of the early spring flowers and the effect of the sun even on cold days. It is all a testament to the glory of God’s creation, particularly with the backdrop of the splendor of Easter.
The magnificence of creation and the growth that goes on out of sight and in all seasons of the year, reminds us that “nothing in this world is indifferent to us” (see Laudato Si, 3-6). First, our respect for the beauty and life of the earth begins in our love and respect for one another, with the realization that all of creation is interconnected. As Pope Francis explains, “human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself” (Laudato Si, 66). This relational dimension is not just directed at other people, but also to the whole of the created world. Saint Francis of Assisi best embraced this love for the other and this love for all of God’s creation.
In the book of Genesis, we learn God formed humanity out of “the dust of the ground” (2:7), creating each of us in his own image and likeness, and endowing men and women with an innate dignity grounded in God’s love (1:27). The Lord then entrusted the stewardship of the natural world to us (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). Within the fabric of our common home, then, is an integral ecology which envisions the responsible and sustainable development of natural resources for our use, and care for the good of nature both as respecting God’s gift and so that resources are available for generations to come.
Responsible stewardship of our common home in this local Church has taken the form of facilities management, providing educational resources, and various initiatives undertaken by our archdiocesan Care for Creation Committee which address the environmental challenges at our parishes, schools and other properties. One very exciting project is a partnership between Mount Olivet Cemetery and the Nature Conservancy, which is documented in the video below, which reduces the potential for storm-water run-off due to impervious surfaces.
Catholic social teaching calls for us to be proactive in the care and cultivation of all the gifts God has entrusted to us. As we continue as a Church to take practical steps to prevent negative environmental impact and promote a positive ecology and the common good, including partnerships with other groups, we understand more fully that the natural world is itself a form of praise to God for which we should rightly give thanks.