Celebrating Earth Day 2019

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)

“…the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.” (#93)

“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)

For reflection:

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?


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  1. Kathleen Magiera on April 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Good Morning Sr. Melannie,

    The phrase “the earth is essentially a shared inheritance . . .” really struck me today. Pope Francis so clearly discussed our responsibility to take care of the earth. It saddens me that today the very laws that protected the environment in our country in the past are being wiped away in the name of progress. We must follow Pope Francis’ call to stand up for our shared inheritance.

    Happy Easter to one and all!


  2. Kathy on April 22, 2019 at 7:13 am

    “We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.” (#52)
    This is the part that speaks to me. With climate change affecting so many people in different places around the globe we need to work together to help each other and preserve our beautiful planet.
    Thanks Sr Melanie and enjoy your upcoming weekend.

    • Kathy Donnermeyer on April 22, 2019 at 7:34 am

      P.S. I remember the first Earth Day, and those early years, I was in late grade school and high school, and caring for the earth has always been important to me. Loved the video as well, since I’m one who finds God in Nature.

  3. denise on April 22, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Happy Easter Sister,
    I am stuck by Pope Francis clear reminder we are all one family, in God, on this earth and through society. His call is to action and personal responsibility for remedy of what ails the least of us and the earth, our home. My church has designated days of community service that provide me with opportunities to engage and become active in social services. We have recycle centers in several church parking lots and gently used clothing closets that are raising awareness. I love Pope Francis’s common sense approach that simply says our lives should show the world what we believe.


  4. Carol on April 22, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Good Morning to all!

    #52 & #93 spoke volumes because it is a sobering thought to contemplate that we have more in common than we have differences. If we don’t work together with our global brothers & sisters we will be hastening the slow death of our planet. I pray people will discontinue looking towards acts of violence, terrorism, and/or war to settle our differences. Whatever happened to compromise? To working toward the common good?
    The video was breathtakingly beautiful, but the music was unsettling…it spoke to me as more gloom & doom…as if the gift of nature is desperately fighting a losing battle with humankind.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on April 22, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Yes, there is a heaviness in the music. It was written for the film “1492: Conquest of Paradise” which tells a fictionalized account of Christopher Columbus’ travels to the New World and the effect these voyages had on the indigenous peoples there. So the gloom you sensed is reflective of the way the indigenous peoples were exploited–especially for their gold. The movie is quite violent, I read… Melannie

  5. Melanie Ebert on April 22, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Our Pope is so wise. We need to treat others and our world with love and respect. It can start with us through action and example.
    Thank you sister Melannie for this message and beautiful video.
    Let’s get started!

  6. John E Hopkins on April 22, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Thank you for this reflection, Sr. Melannie, and thank you for the breathtaking film with its — to quote Carol — “unsettling” music.

    Once I took my students for a “nature walk” through the cross country trails behind the high school where I once taught. I had tramped these trails hundreds of time, usually alone. But this one time with my students changed everything when one of them said, “Hey, Mr. Hopkins, look up.” I did, and there I saw the majesty of these towering pine trees, trees I had walked by often, but never stopped to really look at them — and their majestic height — until a student reminded me to.

    So today let’s take the time to look up and see the wonder above us!

  7. Diane Butler on April 22, 2019 at 10:01 am

    We are one human family. Lets celebrate that this Easter.

  8. Patty on April 22, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Thank you, Sister.

  9. Sholeh Panahi on April 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Praying for all living beings…connected with all of you…flying in beauty and harmony with you my beautiful teachers…

  10. patricia provenzano on April 22, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Thank you it was beautiful. I live in down town Ft Lauderdale. I love your website. Sure wish you were coming here. Enjoy your visit to the west coast of Florida and your friend.

  11. Sholeh Panahi on April 22, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Praying to The Spirit World ! Let`s walk with THE FIRST NATIONS together…they are our Teachers, The True Guardians of Mother Earth…let them lead us & inspire us..they are my most adored friends, my true spiritual family, my soul family..!
    Only together with all people we can change the situation on Earth…saving our beautiful Mother & all living beings…. !

  12. Marietta Wethington,OSU on April 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Thank You! I am a strong environmentalist and really appreciate your reflection, Sister Melannie. I, too, grew up on a farm and our community owns a farm. We try to do all we can to protect the earth. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a great mantra for all of us. God bless our Mother Earth and all those who work to protect her.

  13. Rosemary on April 22, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Dearest Sister Melanie,
    After a Beautiful Easter Celebration, how wonderful to see and contemplate God’s Beautiful Creations; which are not just humans, but the animals and plants and trees! We need to remember to be unselfish, and reuse, recycle and spare the Planet of all the waste that does not disappear on its own. The haunting and beautiful music, sets the tone for “not only for me, but for others and the ones to come, in all the world”… Use wisely, not wasting, and give thanks each day for ALL the many marvels God has given us”.
    Thank you each Monday, Sister, for making the week begin on a Positive note!

  14. Thomas DeFreitas on April 22, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Sr Melannie, and everyone, hello!

    Earth Day, being in Spring, summons to mind the poetry of Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (1844-89):

    “And all is seared with trade, bleared, smeared with toil … And for all this, nature is never spent. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things … because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

    “Thicket and thorp are merry with silver-surfed cherry …”

    Spring. It’s hard not to embrace the earth with a heart of love during these heady blossoming days.

    Pope Francis is a man of alert sagacity and profound holiness, and I always receive with gratitude and loyal attention anything he has to say.

    I guess my “note” this Earth Day is one of gratitude, akin to that of E E Cummings when he thanked his God for:

    the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
    which is natural which is infinite which is yes

    (Full disclosure: Chilly, ash-gray, rainy all day in eastern Massachusetts. But we cultivate gratitude nonetheless! Let the clouds rain forth! Let the earth open and spring forth salvation!)

    Peace and light.

  15. Annie on April 23, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Such a beautiful nature video. I could see such depth in the tiger’s gaze. We have to remember that the earth is not just ours, not just for future human generations, but belongs to the plants and animals as well. It’s sad to see the earth’s beauty sacrificed by people who see environmental laws as a hassle that get in the way of profit.

  16. Jean Canatsey on April 24, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    What a lovely video accompanied by such hauntingly beautiful music. My husband and I chose to spend Earth Day on a pontoon boat just quietly meandering up Florida’s St. John’s River. There is nothing quite like the quiet beauty of God’s wilderness.

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