Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 20, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Are We Following Jesus' Footsteps in Our Care for the Earth? by Sister Marguerite E. Donovan, CSJ

During the recent fall months, we were blessed with several weeks of flaming, leafy glory, a bright and welcome relief from the darkness of campaign sniping and blurred, questionable wisdom from the candidates. Both are now history, but the memory of nature’s beauty endures, thank God.

In recent weeks, my reflections on global warming and the devastating effects we have experienced so near to home from Hurricane Sandy have given me pause to consider more deeply the reality of rising sea levels, resulting from melting ice caps in both the North and South Poles. How do we adjust to these cataclysmic events? Our “dear neighbors” who lived on the shores of New Jersey, Staten Island, the Rockaways, Long Island and Connecticut have had their lives turned upside down, some losing everything. I have been inspired by the outpouring of help, neighbor to neighbor, in the weeks following the storm. What goodness lies in the hearts of people! What generosity has been shown by families reaching out to strangers and inviting them to share Thanksgiving Dinner with them! These initial and heartfelt manifestations of solidarity in the face of dramatic loss are in sharp contrast to the greed and materialistic frenzy “celebrated” by the media with Black-Friday and even Thanksgiving-Day sales events. Will we ever step back and ask “why” we need all that stuff? Who do we suppose felt spiritually more fulfilled at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend—those who shared the little they had with others or those who found a bargain electronic device to add to their growing collection?

A recent documentary on the subject of global warming noted that since the onset of the Industrial Revolution (so often touted as a sure sign of human progress) some 300 years ago, the human race has managed to undo Planet Earth’s balance of nature which God had preserved over the course of 6,000 years. The seas are rising; the fact is undeniable. Now, the humans who caused that situation through the emission of noxious gases into the atmosphere—and we are all part of that chain of events since we all benefit from the products and services created by industries that do the polluting—will have to repair the global damage. There is already talk of building a sea wall to protect the remaining coastline of New Jersey, Staten Island, New York Harbor, Long Island and Connecticut, an enormously expensive undertaking. However, more importantly, perhaps, are the individual and corporate decisions each of us will be called to make to live more simply, so that others may simply live. We will be called upon to sacrifice our individual preferences, so that the greater community may live without threat to life and home. Can we do that?

In closing, I would like to share with you a piece written by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser and printed as a reflection in "Give Us This Day" for November 25 (Feast of Christ the King, p. 266). Citing the qualities of a good king, he writes in part: “A good king is someone who is strong enough to be weak; who, like God’s presence in this world, can let vulnerability, silence and helplessness be the ultimate instruments in ordering, carrying, feeding and blessing others.” Jesus came into this world in such a manner, lived this way and called his disciples to follow in his footsteps. During this Advent season, let us ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge. We must be!