April 22 is Earth Day. Founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970 to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. Goal is healthy and sustainable environment. St. Francis of Assisi was born on April 22.
Earth spirituality is living our Christian faith vis-à-vis the planet earth-our home. Earth spirituality is the interdependence of ecology and spirituality.
Scriptures tell us: 1) God created the universe and everything was good (Gen. Chapter 1); 2) God entrusted to the man and woman all of creation to their responsibility, charging them to care for its harmony and development (Gen. 1: 26-30; Gen. 2:15); 3) Jesus made use of natural elements in his public ministry (cf. Gospels); 4) through His Paschal Mystery, Jesus inaugurates a new world in which everything is subjected to him (cf. 1 Cor. 15: 20-28), creating new relationships of order and harmony which sin had destroyed (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17), reconciling nature to God and giving new peace (cf. Col. 1: 15-20), leading to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21.1).
Four principles that govern the universe, according to Fr. Thomas Berry, CP, Geologian, are communion, interconnectedness, differentiation and innerness.
The universe is a communion of subjects not merely a collection of objects. All creatures have rights (subjects) because they were all created by God. Respect is due to each one. The Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church (CSDC) states “…creatures that surround man as also gifts of God to be nurtured and safeguarded with a sense of gratitude to the Creator” (n. 464). “Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality in particular has witnessed to this sort of kinship of man with his creaturely environment fostering in him an attitude of respect for every reality of the surrounding world” (n. 464; John Paul II, “Address to participants in a convention on the Environment and Health, 24 March 1997).”
All creatures are interconnected. John Paul II writes in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis. “One must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the cosmos” (n. 34). Open pit mining and coal fired power plant adversely affect the environment and people’s health, threatening food security and ultimately human survival.
Differentiation. Species differ. Individuals differ, too. Every person is unique, irreplaceable, though not indispensable. “The Magesterium finds the motivation for its opposition to a concept of the environment based on ecocentrism and on biocentrism in the fact that ‘it is being proposed that the ontological and axiological difference between men and other living beings be eliminated, since the biosphere is considered a biotic unity of undifferentiated value’” (John Paul Ii, op cit.) quoted in CSDP, n. 463). We are different ontologically, as regards the nature of being and its essential properties, as well as axiologically, meaning each being has different value or worth.
Innerness means the psychic, physical character of the unfolding universe, according to Fr. Thomas Berry, CP. Matter has both physical and spiritual dimension. “The Spirit is the divine force within the cosmos who continually indwells everywhere and works in amazing ways to sustain all forms of life”, writes Fr. Berry. Thus we have to respect every being because of the indwelling of God’s Spirit in them.
Communion, interconnectedness, differentiation and innerness compel us to respect the integrity of God’s creation and assiduously care for the planet earth, our home in this life.
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 528, 26 April 2009)