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How Will Humanity and the Earth be Saved

Saturday, July 24, 2004
How Will Humanity and the Earth be Saved
The Revolution of Mary
Neo-Pagan and Secular Environmentalism

Some environmentalists today charge that Christianity is mostly to blame for our environmental crisis. They claim that Christianity is an obstacle to environmental justice and ecological restoration. They reject Christianity and instead adopt a type of neo-paganism, fostering a form of nature worship, and often promote secularism by ignoring or denying the Triune God.

A top spokesperson for neo-pagan and secular environmentalism, dissident Catholic priest Thomas Berry, contends that Christianity promotes a "deep cultural pathology of human greed and addiction." In his own words, "the world is being called to a new post-denominational, even post Christian, belief system that sees the earth as a living being -- mythologically, as Gaia, Mother Earth -- with mankind as her consciousness."1

Today's neo-pagans and secularists pick and choose religious beliefs, doctrines, and practices - mixing and matching them much as they would select food in a cafeteria. Taken together, paganism and secularism become a kind of do-it-yourself, cafeteria-style spirituality without religion or without God. Too often this results in the worship of self and nature (matter/energy). Some neo-pagans identify themselves as Christian and Catholic.

Neo-pagan and secular environmentalists often align themselves with socialists, communists, and Marxists to promote a planetary environmental socialism or Marxism. This is despite the fact that some of the world's worst environmental disasters occurred under these types of political systems. Critics charge that these political groups are using the environmental movement as a front to advance their political agendas. For example, Leonardo Boff, a former Catholic priest, Marxist, and liberation theologian, now promotes ecology and environmental justice. Another example is Mikhail Gorbachev, former communist dictator of the Soviet Union and Marxist, who is now the President of Green Cross International. The Earth Charter is a product of these secular, neo-pagan, and Marxist beliefs.

Christians certainly do share some responsibility for the damage inflicted on our planet. Sins, such as arrogance, greed, and lack of respect for life, have brought division into the entire world, but not only within and between human persons. The consequences of sin also effect the Earth. Sin is not limited to Christians nor the Western world. Thankfully, Christ's redemptive mission for all of humanity extends to the whole of Creation.

In the table below, we compare and contrast the Christian faith with neo-pagan and secular environmentalism to determine which is most likely to save humanity and the Earth. The comparison is based on Mary's Magnificat, the most revolutionary document ever written.

The title "Magnificat" derives from the opening line of the Latin Vulgate's translation: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum," which means "my soul magnifies the Lord." The Magnificat is such a beautiful prayer that the Church uses it every day at Evening Prayer, in the Liturgy of the Hours. It perfectly summarizes Mary’s faith and trust in God. It is also the longest direct quote from any woman in the New Testament. In the Women’s Bible Commentary, author Jane Schaberg writes: “The Magnificat is the great New Testament song of liberation — personal and social, moral and economic — a revolutionary document of intense conflict and victory.”

Mary begins her Magnificat with her personal experiences and soon passes on to identify herself with the whole human race. Mary is fully aware that Christ's redemptive mission extends also to the rest of Creation.

Commentary by Bill Jacobs, Catholic Conservation Center


Neo-Pagan: a wide variety of Earth-based, nature-based, New Age, and goddess beliefs, as opposed to Judeo-Christian religion.

Secularism: indifference or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.

Mary's Magnficat (Luke 1:46-55 NAB)

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Painting above of Mary by Sister Mary Grace, O.P.

From the book by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen,

The World's First Love: Mary, Mother of God

Ignatius Press

Revolution of Mary

Neo-Pagan and Secular Environmentalism

Mary begins with the soul and God, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” The whole universe revolves around these two realities: the soul aspiring to joy in unity with God, which God alone provides. This unity ultimately enfolds and transforms the entire universe.

Humanity worships God.

Mary proclaims God's greatness. God is present and active throughout Creation. Nature is sacramental; it's beauty and diversity reveal something about God.

The first Creation finds its meaning and its summit in the New Creation in Christ.

Mikhail Gorbachev, President of Green Cross International and a leader of the neo-pagan cult of Mother Earth, begins and ends with the self and matter when he declares, “I believe in the cosmos. Nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred.”

Humanity worships self (ego) and the Earth.

Belief in God alienates people from themselves and nature. All religion, and in particular the Roman Catholic faith, is seen as an obstacle to the restoration of the environment.

There is no transcendent God or eternal soul, only matter and energy.

There is no ultimate meaning to life.

“Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” The Lord of History has willed that Mary be venerated through the centuries. History is guided by Divine Providence, consisting of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

People are cooperators and co-creators with the Triune God.

Peace and justice fail when humanity seeks its own salvation and forgets the love of God and neighbor.

Mary is our Mother, given to us by Christ. As the Mother of the Creator and Redeemer, Mary is also the Mother of the New Creation in Christ.

We are a special part of Creation, not separate from it. Nature is our sister. The Earth is our home. The Earth is a community of life.

There is no divine purpose or providence for the human species. Hence, no deity will save us; we alone must save ourselves. The future is determined not by God, but by humanity and matter alone.

History shows that all efforts to remove God from the moral order sooner or later lead individuals and societies to moral degradation. This is exemplified by the terrible experiments of Communism and Nazism

The Earth is our mother.
The Earth is a single living being.

Humanity is a cancer spreading on the Earth.

“His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” Fear is here understood as filial, that is, a shrinking away from hurting one who is loved. Such is the fear of a child for devoted parents, a person holding a tiny newborn baby for the first time, and the fear a Christian has of Christ. Fear here is related to love and is the beginning of wisdom.

Humankind is dependent on God.

Fear is born out of a concentration of power, not of love. Fear is founded not on filial but on servile fear, the kind of fear a slave has for a tyrant, an oppressed citizen for a dictator. Belief systems that deny the filial fear of God always end in the creation of servile fear of man.

Humankind is dependent on a global, socialist super-state.

Christianity recognizes and advocates (a) respect for all human life from conception to natural death, (b) care for the poor, (c) social justice, (d) environmental justice, (e) respect for nature, (f) global interdependence, (g) an ethics of solidarity promoting cooperation and a just structure of sharing in the world community, (h) the universal purpose of created things, (i) an authentic feminism, (j) the equitable use of the Earth’s resources, and (k) a conception of authentic development, which offers a direction for progress that respects all human dignity and the limits of material growth.

Instead of simple "sustainable development," Catholics strive for more; We strive for authentic development for humankind and the whole of Creation.

Numerous social conditions, including health, freedom, love, peace, culture, religion, education, economic and material prosperity, democracy, and a healthful and beautiful environment, impact our ability to realize our human dignity and reach our full potential. In addition, humankind carefully and wisely develops Creation so that the whole of Creation reaches its full potential, according to God's will.

Neo-Pagan Secularism recognizes and advocates (a) respect for some, but not all, human life, (b) care for the poor only after they are born, (c) social justice for some but not all, (d) environmental justice for some but not all, (e) respect for nature, with limited respect for the spiritual nature of humanity and human ecology (f) global interdependence, (g) an ethics of solidarity promoting cooperation and a just structure of sharing in the world community, as determined by the state (h) the universal purpose of things, (i) a concept of feminism for adult women but not for females in the womb, (j) the redistribution of the Earth’s resources, and (k) a conception of sustainable development, which offers a direction for progress that respects some, but not all, human dignity and the limits of growth.

The world in its entirety has more value than the person. Surgical abortion is defended to advance sustainable development.

"Sustainable development" is the fundamental social principle.

Violence is necessary. Jesus declared, “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence” (Mathew 11:12). But this violence must be against self, against its selfishness, greed, lust for power, and arrogance - the primary causes of social and ecological destruction..

The sword that strikes must be thrust inward to rid oneself of all that would make one despise neighbor and destroy Creation.

The development and spread of wealth, freedom, and justice, which properly understood make for the prosperity of the poor, is inspired by an inner charity that loves God and neighbor.

Humanity has nothing to lose but the chains of sin, which darken the intellect and weaken the will. The rest of Creation suffers from our sin. By throwing off sin through the merits of Christ, such as the sins of arrogance and lack of respect for life, people become children of God, and heirs of Heaven.

In a mysterious way, Christ’s redemptive mission extends to all of Creation. The work of Redemption is to elevate Creation to a new level.

Creation is drawn to the sphere of the divinity and of the intimate life of God.

The whole of Creation finds its meaning and its summit in the New Creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first Creation.

Violence is necessary. But the violence must be against neighbor, against those who own property, and against those who believe in God and freedom. This is often explained as a type of self-defense, economic repression and environmental destruction being the alleged original aggressive actions. Egotism must be disguised as social justice.

Violence is needed to establish a just socialist or Marxist order. It is believed that violence will disappear once its causes, mostly capitalism, are eliminated.

Violence against unborn children is necessary to promote sustainable development.

The sword that strikes must be thrust outward to rid society of all that would despise the dominant or preferred set of beliefs, typically socialism, Marxism, pantheism, neo-paganism, or other New Age beliefs.

The transfer of wealth takes place through violent confiscation, and the shifting of wealth from one person’s pocket to another.

Environmental justice is enforced by a global, socialist super-state. The nation-state is eliminated and replaced with self-sustaining, utopian "bioregions."

Humanity has nothing to lose but the chains that bind us to God and private property.

Humanity and/or nature will be restored to itself as the "true god." At death, explains Rosemary Radford Ruether, the ego "dissolves back into the cosmic matrix of matter/energy."

It is remarkable how Mary begins her Magnificat with her personal experiences and soon passes on to identify herself with the whole human race. She looks ahead and sees what the effect of the birth of her Son will be to the world, how it will improve the whole condition of human life, how it will free the oppressed, feed the hungry, assist the helpless, and redeem the whole of Creation. And when she said these words, her Son was not yet born -- although one would think, from the joy of the song, that He was already in her arms. She is singing here a song of pure faith about something certain to happen because God will make it come true, not predicting the mere revolution of blind material forces.

There is an intrinsic antagonism between Mary's revolution and any other, because hers is based on the true psychology of human nature. Hers is based on the existence of an immense want, so serious and so imperative that every honest heart must crave for its satisfaction. Happy are they who experience, within themselves, the expelling of pride and egotism, and in whom spiritual hunger is fed -- who discover, before it is too late, that they are poor, and naked, and blind, and who seek to clothe themselves with the raiment of grace that her Son brings (Fulton J. Sheen).

The Roman Catholic approach to environmental conservation is based on the two commandments of Jesus Christ: to love God above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love of God requires respect for God's gifts and for God's will for Creation. Love of neighbor requires justice, which prohibits the selfish destruction of the environment without regard for those in need today or for the needs of future generations. The whole of Creation finds its meaning and its summit in the New Creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first Creation.

As God's children, we have a special responsibility toward each other and the rest of Creation. As responsible stewards and co-creators with Christ, we are part of Creation, not separate from it. Nature is our sister. We must demonstrate the meaning of Christ's life, death, and resurrection in our treatment of Creation. We are to begin the process of conserving, developing, and restoring Creation, a process that will be completed by God - the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of the whole Universe - in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Adapted from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. 1996. The Worlds First Love: Mary, Mother of God. San Francisco, Ignatius Press. Adapted and revised by Bill Jacobs. All that is good and true here is credited to Archbishop Sheen. All of the errors are the sole responsibility of Bill Jacobs. Comments and suggestions are most welcome at billjacobs@catholic.org. Thank you.

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