All posts tagged: creation

Stewards Not Ravagers

If we consider the etymological roots of the word “ecology,” we can see in its Greek root the word oikos (meaning “household”). The word “ecology” itself thus already indicates to us a deep sense of radical relationality between human beings and the world, human beings, and one another. This means that care for the earth and care for persons (particularly the most fragile among us) are intimately bound, that environmental ecology and human ecology stand or fall together. We are one household, marked by an intricate web of relationships. When these relationships are conceived competitively rather than cooperatively, when nature or human beings are treated merely as instruments, both human dignity and the dignity of the created order are compromised. As Archbishop Wilton Gregory noted in a 2016 address, the divinely ordained task for human beings to be stewards of creation must begin with “the lofty dignity of the human person.” He noted that the created order was a good in itself because the act of creation bestowed “upon all of nature [is] an undeniable …

Agrarian Insights on Ecological Conversion: Living Laudato Si’

Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ posed a tremendous challenge for the Church and the entire world. Although the encyclical letter was seen widely as an intervention on climate change negotiations, it in fact offered much more – including a radical critique of our entire societal status quo. In particular, Francis challenges the “dominant technocratic paradigm,” outlining its various damaging cultural and spiritual effects while also offering suggestions toward cultivating an alternative lifestyle: “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal ” (Laudato Si’, §202).  The encyclical’s reception has been varied. Recent research indicates that the Pope’s teachings about global warming contributed to greater public engagement with the issue.[1] Still some, including American Catholics, continue to deny the full extent of our ecological problem. Others find themselves frustrated with institutional inaction or paralyzed by the immensity of the issue. The climate-change crisis, and our apparent inability to face it, is deeply distressing to the Church, since the roots of the problem …

Building the Theandric City: Liturgy and the Consummation of Humanity

In the beginning, God placed human beings in the world and commanded them to build a city. Before the Fall, that city had already been born. The city is the mode of humankind’s communal, liturgical, and economic life in the world, and its essence was contained in the telos given by God to humanity—to rule and to use the world justly, to tend the garden, to name the world, and to fill it with images of God. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28)—these are God’s first words to humanity, the exordium of the blessing that gave to them the entire world.[1] All the just elements of the village, the town, and the city are simply an unfolding of this primordial mission. God made human beings a political animal, ruling and using the world in community. As creatures of both body and soul, they were also the mediators between God and matter. This was to be a priestly polis. By craft, speech, and relationship, humankind would integrate all people …

Is ‘Work’ a Four-Letter Word?

There is a certain ambiguity in Scripture about the meaning and value of labor, and I am aware of no clear and positive statement on the subject by the Church. Rerum novarum and Quadragesima anno just don’t really approach the subject, and especially not from a more modern scriptural viewpoint. What I have to suggest on this topic hardly constitutes an exhaustive treatment of what the idea of work might be for a Catholic, but I do think it might open up some avenues for thought. Genesis has God laboring for six days and then resting (Gen 2:1–4), although this does not seem to mean that labor is tiring even for God; it seems rather to show him as a model for our freedom on the Sabbath day, a gift God gives us by his example. Genesis 3:17–19, on the other hand, takes the position that labor is indeed a curse, at least in the way that Adam and Eve would have to do it after the Fall. Job takes a very negative view of …

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Today, the Catholic Church joins with the Orthodox Church in praising God the Creator and praying for the care of creation.  One year ago, Pope Francis instituted the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated, henceforth, on September 1.  In addition to its primary focus on creation, it was an ecumenical gesture toward the Orthodox Church which has celebrated “The Day of Prayer for Creation” since 1989 when Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios instituted it. September 1 is the feast of the Indiction, or first day of the ecclesiastical year for the Orthodox.  The Orthodox offer “prayers and supplication . . . for all creation” on this day to praise and thank God and to turn sinful humanity back to its proper relationship, not only with God, but with creation. Patriarch Dimitrios wrote that we were “created in order to refer creation back to the Creator, in order that the world may be saved from decay and death.”  His successor Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has been called the Green Patriarch because of …

Nature’s Lauds

A sparrow’s song broke through the dawn when all was dark and still. Its joyous cry rose on and on, With praise in ev’ry trill. As faintly as its notes had come, too soon, they fade away, until a robin’s counterpoint rings in the light of day. The robin then takes up the hymn first one, and yet another— their sweet duet a testament to Him who is our Brother. The Word through whom all things were made gave birds their song to sing, and when he took upon our flesh, He gave us everything. O, sparrows, robins, sing of Christ, the New Song, long-awaited, and teach me, too, to sing His praise for all He has created. Your very lives, dear morning birds, are canticles of praise. May my life, too, resound God’s love and glory all my days.