Working Papers or "Veniam Pro Laudo Peto"
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Get Involved !

Saturday, July 24, 2004
Get Involved !
"In a world where the shadows of poverty, injustice, and secularism are cast over every continent,

the need for authentic disciples of Jesus Christ remains as urgent as ever."

Pope John Paul II , March 23, 2004

What YOU can do to conserve and restore Creation!
WORSHIP our Creator and Redeemer! Our experience of worship makes us more aware of God in all Creation. Out of worship comes a Christian response to rule creation rightly -- humbly, justly, enthusiastically, and with holiness and wisdom. Christian worship is a response of thanksgiving. The liturgy leads us to offer thanks and praise to God for the gifts of Creation and Redemption. Participating regularly in this liturgy will gradually teach us to live constantly in a sense of profound gratitude. With this viewpoint, we are more likely to care for Creation as God's gift. In addition, worship fosters conversion, the gradual giving of our whole life to God, which is necessary for us to become good stewards of the Earth. Just as Saint Francis praised God for every being and for all of Creation, a parish community can do the same every week in its liturgy and celebrations.

Above all, the Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Redemption. By making this sacrifice of Redemption present, humankind and the whole of creation are restored to God! Pope John Paul II has said, "When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a Bishop and as the Successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it... I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lakeshores and seacoasts; I have celebrated it on altars built in stadiums and in city squares... This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. The Son of God became man in order to restore all creation, in one supreme act of praise, to the One who made it from nothing. He, the Eternal High Priest who by the blood of his Cross entered the eternal sanctuary, thus gives back to the Creator and Father all creation redeemed. He does so through the priestly ministry of the Church, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Truly this is the mysterium fidei which is accomplished in the Eucharist: the world which came forth from the hands of God the Creator now returns to him redeemed by Christ" (Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003). So we see, the Eucharist is not only necessary for the redemption of humankind, it is necessary for the restoration of the whole of Creation!

CONTEMPLATE the wonders of God's creation, be it in nature or in the marvelous ingenuity of the human mind. Contemplate the wonders of God in the woods, by the sea, in a park, or in a garden. Many people can sense the presence of the Lord in the midst of nature. "Faced with the glory of the Trinity in creation, we must contemplate, sing, and rediscover awe," said Pope John Paul II.

To be aware of God in nature should also lead us to praise the Lord in worship at Mass. And our experience in Mass should make us more aware of God in nature. The relationship between experiencing God in nature and in worship is truly of mutual benefit!

CELEBRATE with special creation-oriented liturgies or prayer services (St. Francis Day, Rogation Days, Earth Day, etc.) According to the U.S. Bishops, "We urge celebrants and liturgy committees to incorporate themes into prayer and worship that emphasize our responsibility to protect all of God's creation and to organize prayerful celebrations of creation on feast days honoring St. Francis and St. Isidore." (Click here for information about the Blessing of Animals.)

PRAY for the unborn and children who are at greater risk from exposure to environmental hazards.

PRAY for social justice for the poor and vulnerable who suffer disproportionately from environmental destruction.

PRAY for people with an excess of wealth and affluence, and for the followers of the religion of rampant consumerism, including perhaps, ourselves. An excess of wealth and affluence can be as harmful to the person as an excess of poverty. A "mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority," as Pope John Paul II has said, "is not enough for the realization of human happiness."

PRAY for future generations that they may enjoy a healthful environment that reflects the goodness and beauty of the Creator.

VOTE pro-life. The womb is the most endangered human environment today.

CREATE a vegetable garden or farm for low-income families and the community. For ideas, visit the La Vista Community Supported Garden and a site about community supported agriculture (CSA).

CREATE a Mary Garden. During medieval times, there were special gardens dedicated to the Virgin Mary and planted with flowers that bore her name. Today, there is a popular movement to reinstate devotion to Mary by bringing back the old plant names and using these species to create beautiful gardens as a form of worship and honor. For more information and inspiration, visit the Mary's Garden website. You can also read about Mary gardens in the book, Rooted in the Spirit: Exploring Inspirational Gardens, by Catholic author Maureen Gilmer.

CAREFULLY USE the resources of the Earth by conducting environmental or energy audits of your grounds, recycling, composting, organic gardening, etc.

STUDY to know more of creation and its needs. Join at least one scientific or conservation organization and take the time to read their magazine and other publications. Attend public meetings in which information about creation, specifically the neighborhood creation, is presented and discussed. Pick up and use a nature field guide, such as a field guide to birds or wildflowers.

EDUCATE your congregation or parish school by sponsoring or participating in Catholic theology/spirituality and environment classes/workshops, environmental study groups, lecture series, special curriculum, video or library resources, etc. ENGAGE in youth activities like special liturgies, prayer services, wilderness experiences, ecological restoration, litter or environmental cleanups, etc.

TEACH children about the lives of the patron of ecology, St. Francis of Assisi, and patroness of ecology, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

LOOK at what is happening to the most vulnerable people in your community. Are there special kinds of problems that those people are exposed to that they would consider to be unfair or unjust? Is there something that can be done about it?

PROMOTE or sponsor public policy activities such as letter writing campaigns, interfaith events, meetings with government representatives, community events, etc.

DIRECT advocacy towards health issues, biodiversity conservation, toxic waste clean-up, misuse of pesticides, land and water conservation, lead poisoning, sustainable development, authentic development, alternative energy sources, ecological restoration, etc.

EXAMINE your environmental responsibility in terms of issues particular to your community whether you are urban, rural or suburban.

CULTIVATE outdoor activities, such as hiking, walking, camping, biking, boating, gardening, canoeing, kayaking, photography, hunting, fishing, swimming, mountain climbing, birding, and botanizing. Take yourself and your family out of your house, automobile, shopping mall, and theme park and into the living world.

CONTACT the United States Catholic Conference environmental justice website for outstanding Catholic faith and ecology books and videos. Also see our resources page for other books and information.

LEARN six ways your parish can help save the earth in It's Easy Being Green by Don Beaulieu in Salt of the Earth.

SUPPORT the Church and the work of Catholic organizations that promote caring for the environment, both in the U.S. and abroad, such as Catholic Relief Services. Strongly support your local parish and diocese.

INFORM people about the Catholic Conservation Center website at conservation.catholic.org (no "www"). Put a notice about the website in your parish bulletin. (Thanks!)

VISIT our resources page and links page for more information and inspiration.

DISCERN the difference between authentic Catholic teaching about ecology and the vast amount of false, misleading, or just plain different teachings. "You cannot imagine how great is people's foolishness. They have no sense or discernment, having lost it by hoping in themselves and putting their trust in their own knowledge." -St. Catherine of Siena

BECOME a steward yourself, as a biologist, botanist, ecologist, sister, priest, deacon, politician, teacher, forester, wildlife manager, hydrologist, environmental engineer, farmer, or volunteer. Or give your blessing, encouragement, and support to a daughter or son who says, "This is what God wants me to do."

"I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do."

--Saint Francis of Assisi, Patron of Ecology

Handwritten sign found on the wall of Blessed Mother Teresa's room:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; be successful anyway.

If you're honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous; be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will forget tomorrow; do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.

For you see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Adapted from The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith (1968)

"Being a champion in life demands the three Ds: discipline, dedication, and divine assistance."

Bishop James A. Griffin of Columbus

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