World Earth Day: An Opportunity for us Redemptorists to promote Protection of our Common Home

aileu farming/farmers during rice harvest. Photo by Martine Perret/UNMIT

When we say, “wounded world”, we refer to the creation of God that is oppressed and battered

The international calendar marks April 22nd as Earth Day. This is an event that is celebrated in more than 190 countries and represents for us Redemptorists an opportunity to promote the protection of our Common Home. Already the General Chapter, in its last message to the Congregation, invites us to face the challenge of living and building solidarity, not only with the world, with the most disadvantaged men and women of our time, but also with creation. In fact, in paragraph 12 of the decisions, the Chapter encourages “the Conferences, the Units, and the Communities to promote activities of ecological development and liturgical celebrations in our various apostolic works”. Therefore, this date is an opportunity to promote these activities. As children of St. Alphonsus, this subject is not indifferent to us, since at the center of the environmental question there is also the moral and pastoral question.

In recent years, public and private institutions have made progress in strengthening ecological awareness, identifying the dangers of irresponsible use of the planet’s natural resources. As Christians, we are also becoming more and more aware of our condition as creatures, seeing ourselves as part of this creation and its guardians. Recognizing ourselves as creatures we also recognize the value of other existing forms of life, worthy of our respect and care, thus we cannot express reverence for our Creator by degrading other created species.

This is why it is necessary to continue to strengthen awareness in our communities, institutions, and families on the need to adopt lifestyles, production, and sustainable consumption. Following the spirit of Laudato Sí (LS), we must take concrete action in the face of emergencies caused by climate change and global warming.

The concept of inter-connectivity in the world of communication is very well suited to the ecological approach. This concept indicates that the “problems” of the planet are also “our” problems because they concern us directly. Polluted water coming from rivers or seas does not know the limits of peoples, nations or cultures; Greenhouse gases affect everyone, regardless of where or from whom. As on the Internet, life constitutes a network of interconnections, in which the whole and the parts are strictly communicated. Therefore, we see ourselves as part of creation and not as an entity alien to it; and what we do or do not do to the Earth, for better or for worse, we do it or stop doing it to ourselves.

When we Redemptorists refer to the “wounded world”, we are not simply using a linguistic instrument, but referring to the creation of God who is oppressed and fractured: impoverished men and women, but also other living species wounded by human irresponsibility. In this sense, Laudato Si affirms global interdependence and the common good when it affirms that “there are not two separate crises, one environmental and one social, but one single and complex socio-environmental crisis” (LS 139); and therefore “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice into discussions on the environment, to listen to both the clamour of the earth and the clamour of the poor” (LS 49).

The ecological problem is intimately connected with the poor and justice because it is the poor who suffer first and directly the consequences of ecological degradation and who receive the least help when natural disasters break out. Furthermore, since economic development policies are often simultaneously linked to the degradation of the most vulnerable: the poor and the environment. Pope Francis speaks to us of an “integral ecology” that needs to “listen to both the clamor of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49).

Here is how the solution to the problems of the earth involves all of us: governors, scientists, intellectuals, businessmen, educators, etc., and each of the believers. There are solutions that must emerge at the level of governments and institutions, but at the individual level, we also have a responsibility. We could start by examining our lifestyles, such as our style of consumption.

Undoubtedly the ecological theme is present in our missionary activity as Redemptorists, but on this occasion, it would be worth considering the following questions:

How can we connect our Christian commitment to justice with our obligations regarding the environment?

How can we promote in our communities a serious dialogue on the reality of ecological deterioration in our environment and on the significant ethical dimensions of the environmental crisis? How is this reality present in our apostolic plans?

How can we join forces with other institutions and people of good will who work for this purpose?

As Redemptorists, what can we offer the environmental movement and what can we learn from it?

How can we contribute to achieving the global goals of sustainable development, in particular, those related to the climate change, the conservation of marine resources and the life of terrestrial ecosystems?

CSsR – General Secretariat for Evangelization

Prayer for our land

God Almighty,

that you are present throughout the universe

and in the smallest of your creatures,

You who surround yourself with your tenderness

everything that exists,

pour into us the strength of your love

so that we take care

of life and beauty.

Flood us with peace, because we live as brothers and sisters

without harming anyone.

O God of the poor,

help us to redeem the abandoned

and the forgotten ones of this earth

that are worth so much in your eyes.

Heal our life,

so that we protect the world and do not deprive it,

so that we sow beauty

and not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts

of those who seek only advantages

at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the value of everything,

to contemplate with amazement,

to recognize that we are deeply united

with all the creatures

on our journey towards your infinite light.

Thank you because you are with us every day.

Please support us in our struggle

for justice, love and peace.