April 22, 2019 is Earth Day. The day was established in 1970 in the United States. Its purpose is to demonstrate and promote environmental awareness. On that first Earth Day, over 20 million people joined in observing the day. That first commemoration of Earth Day is credited with influencing the U.S. Government to create stronger laws to protect the environment. Today Earth Day is celebrated in 192 countries worldwide.
One of the slogans that emerged from Earth Day is this: Reduce. Recycle. Reuse. Reduce your consumption of natural resources; recycle items such as metal, glass, and paper; and reuse items instead of throwing them away. People are encouraged to participant in celebrating Earth Day in all kinds of ways: picking up garbage, planting trees, cleaning roads and parks, educating themselves and others on the effects of climate change, signing petitions, writing members of congress, etc.
Pope Francis has spoken and written extensively on the care we must have for creation. His second encyclical, Laudato Si, is entirely devoted to this topic. Issued in 2015, the encyclical critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action.”
Here are a few excerpts from that encyclical for your reflection today:
“A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (#48)
“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.” (#52)
“What kind of a world do we want to leave to those who come after us, the children who are now growing up?” (#160)
“The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion…. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (#217)
Do any of the Pope’s words stand out for you today? If so, which ones? Why?
Do you consciously and concretely live the words: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse? If so, how?
How do you celebrate Earth Day?
PS: I ask your prayers for a retreat day I am giving for the St. Petersburg, Florida diocese on Saturday, April 27. The theme for the day is “Living Hope in Our Troubled Yet Beautiful World.” While in the area, I am connecting with some of our SND’s living there as well as with my good friend and fellow writer, Pat Livingston and her husband. I can’t wait! Thank you!
The video I chose for today is called “Beautiful Nature Around the World.” It consists of 5 1/2 minutes of stunning nature shots accompanied by the haunting music “Conquest of Paradise” by the Greek composer Vangelis. He works almost exclusively with electronic music and is probably best known for the sound track for Chariots of Fire.
Now it’s your turn. Won’t you share your thoughts below?