As the world community celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Sr. Michèle Bisaillon, DHS, had the privilege of attending a ZOOM conference sponsored by the Windham Interfaith Working Group with some 60+ other participants from near and far.  Sister’s comments represented the Catholic take on the theme that in reality has no borders nor creeds except humankind.  We trust that you will benefit from spending some time reading Michèle’s reflections and internalizing their meaning for you as a part of God’s Creation.

Sister writes that the theme this year was “Day of Hope 2020” and that the conference began by remembering all who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic: those who are ill, those who have died, those who are working so hard to care for its victims.  Sr. Michèle’s words to the participants were as follows:

Happy Earth Day! We remember God’s gift to us, our planet, our Mother Earth.

Today we mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Earth Day. Together we celebrate. I begin by quoting from two psalms:

Psalm 107
Aspire to live as sons and daughters of Divine Love and to enshrine Earth with divinity, to honor all relationships as sacred, to live in peace and in balance with all living things, and acknowledge the sacredness of every path, albeit different from your own, that you may reverence the Great Mystery and the wonder of life. Remember always to offer grateful hearts in thanksgiving to the One who lives among us.

Psalm 109
Awaken us to the holy, to the divinity of all creation; O, that we might honor the sacredness of all life!

As many know, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been outspoken in his concern for and love of all creation. His encyclical LAUDATO SI’ [PRAISE BE TO YOU], on Care For our Common Home, written in 2015 is both a wonder and a challenge. This year will mark the 5th anniversary of this encyclical, on this the 50th anniversary year of Earth Day. I quote # 76:

“In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the word ‘creation’ has a broader meaning than ‘nature’, for it has to do with God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance. Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood, and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the {Creator} of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion.”

This universal communion reminds us that we humans are not superior to the rest of creation. We were not created to have dominion over Earth but to respect it, all creatures and also all of the non-human creation such as mountains, hills, rivers and valleys. The whole of creation sings of God’s love. In creation we read the story of God. Each created animal or plant reflects the face of God. Ours is to be respectful and grateful for this gift.

We read in the Book of Job, [12:7-10]: But now ask the beasts to teach you, and the birds of the air to tell you; or the reptiles on earth to instruct you, and the fish of the sea to inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of God has done this? In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all [hu]mankind.

Pope Francis, as many of his predecessors including Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called us to examine our relationship with creation. Article 2 of LAUDATO SI’ says that earth, our common home, cries out to us in pain because we have hurt her by how we’ve used and abused her. We have grown to believe that we are lords and masters of everything and can plunder Earth however we wish. The violence we render is now evident in the sickness of the water, the soil, and the air. Pope Francis speaks of many issues and notably about climate change. Article #13 states that “the urgent challenge is to protect our common home and that includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things CAN change. We need to work together as a human family to bring Earth back to health so that ALL peoples and creation can be brought back to healthy life.” And again, in #12, Pope Francis says “Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”

Sister Michèle would welcome your comments on her presentation as she hopes these few reflections will clearly invite you to truly desire to become a staunch protector of  our Mother Earth in all its dimensions. You may reach her at: dhsjoy@live.com