WASTE from a culture of abundance. Here’s a staggering statistic: Up to half of all food produced is lost before it can be eaten. The water that went into producing it is also wasted at a time when there is severe drought in key food production areas. Plus, food in landfills produces methane gas and pollutes water through runoff. Food waste is also a serious social problem. About 1 in 6 Americans experiences food insecurity, lacking enough high-quality calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle, leading to obesity and diet-related illness. Without this basic human need, there is frustration and resentment – dissension rather than community.
Pope Francis asks us to reflect:
Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any food. Consumerism has led us to become accustomed to the daily waste of food. The food we throw away is as if we had stolen it from the table of the poor or hungry! I invite everyone to identify vehicles for sharing and solidarity with the neediest.
A penchant for convenience and saving time can lead to food waste. What can we do about that?
WHAT’S IN YOUR GARBAGE? Have we become part of the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis described in his encyclical on climate change? We can reduce the amount of waste we create by changing how we purchase:
- Minimize buying items such as plastic, which will remain in landfills for hundreds of years
- Buy in bulk — Plan your purchases with friends or family; share extra veggies or flowers from your garden with neighbors or co-workers
- Use reusable containers, eliminating plastic wrap or aluminum foil for leftovers
- Avoid single-use products — For casual parties, ask guests to “Bring your own cup/plate.” Use cloth napkins and tablecloths rather than paper
- Bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store
- Buy laundry soap and shampoo in large containers and transfer to reusable smaller bottles
- If there are clothes in your closet that you no longer use, donate to a shelter or clothes drive
- Donate books to libraries or hospitals.
- Find your pet at a shelter instead of a breeder
Resist the urge to throw away. Think about what can be reused or recycled. Changing habits takes effort but will save space in a landfill and benefit our community.
WATER WASTE. Environmental degradation has affected water supplies around the globe. Pope Francis reminds us that “access to safe drinking water is a basic and universal human right.” Yet many poor people live with water scarcity – evidence of the global inequality of our environmental crisis.
What if you turned on the faucet and got muddy contaminated water? What if you don’t even have a faucet? We each use about 12,000 gallons of water a year! Some suggestions on how to cut back:
- Install a low-flow shower head in each bathroom and a low-flow water-aerator on sink faucets.
- Use reusable water bottles. An inexpensive filter on the kitchen tap provides 40,000 glasses of purified tap water.
- Minimize watering the lawn — the rain will come. And you’ll mow less often if you water less.
- Catch rainwater in a bucket for your house plants.
- Run the dishwasher and clothes washer only when you have a full load.
- Showers use less water than baths. Save water and the energy to heat it by shortening your showers.
- Instead of washing your car at home, go to a car wash, which recycles the water.
Don’t let water run needlessly down the drain while brushing your teeth. Wet the brush, turn off the water, brush, then rinse your brush.
JOIN OUR NEW MINISTRY! Early this year, we joined faith communities around our region and across the globe in responding to the words of Pope Francis:
We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world.” [Laudato Sí, 229.]
Like other parishes, we, too, have formed an environmental ministry here in our Cluster. We learned from the Pope’s encyclical on Care for Our Common Home that …
- Human activity has contributed to some causes of global warming [Laudato Sí, 23]
- Effects of climate change have an inordinate effect on poor and vulnerable populations
- Complex political, economic, and societal/cultural factors are working against good stewardship for the planet and its inhabitants
This makes environmental change a social problem. And “social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds.” [Laudato Sí, 219] That is why Environmental Ministry at Saint Anne † Our Lady of Lourdes will engage us all in learning what can be done, turning knowledge into action, and praying for all of God’s Creation.
OUR MISSION. Our new Environmental Ministry group has been studying and reflecting on Pope Francis’s statements on Creation Care, the Common Good, and our obligations to act. In response, the group summarized their purpose in the following mission statement:
The Church recognizes that the web of life and the promotion of human dignity requires the protection and care of God’s creation. As stewards, we strive to inspire our Catholic faith community to pray, act, and advocate for our earth and for future generations.
Do you know anyone listed below? Ask them to tell you about environmental ministry.
Noralyn Bayer – Margaret Becket – Pat Bertucci – Vincent Cilento – Carol De Filippo – Jim Hilbert – Pat Klees – Jack Lynch – Jeriann McEvoy – Paula Mir – Linda Perlet – Jean Shafer – Mary Lisa Sisson – Michael Sisson – Matt Ulterino – Rose Yeager
We invite all to join us.
ENVIRONMENTAL MINISTRY in our Cluster. How easy to close our eyes to shrinking polar ice packs and rising ocean levels, polluting coal plants, water scarcity, and other causes and effects of global climate change. But, with his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis forced eyes open, calling Catholics to action. And so, this year, 16 concerned men and women came together to form the Saint Anne † Our Lady of Lourdes Environmental Ministry. We pray & read, debate & march, plan projects, and inspire each other to act for the Common Good.
Join us July 11th 7-9pm +++ Our Lady of Lourdes basement
FROM SAINT FRANCIS to POPE FRANCIS. Two years ago, Pope Francis addressed a message to “every person living on this planet,” speaking of the degradation of our environment as a symptom of deeper problems: Extreme consumerism, over-consumption, and indifference to the poor.
On this 2nd anniversary of Laudato Sí: On Care for Our Common Home, we commemorate the Pope’s call for a “bold cultural revolution” by committing to the creation care values of St. Francis of Assisi –
I pledge to:
PRAY and reflect on the duty to care for God’s Creation and protect the poor and vulnerable.
LEARN about and educate others on the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.
ASSESS how we contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.
ACT to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.
ADVOCATE for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are poor and vulnerable.
This is our challenge, this is our promise, and so we pray all this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
SUMMER CONSERVATION. St. Paul’s words remind us: “Faith without works is dead.” Let us embrace behaviors that reflect our concern about creation. Here are two concrete steps to take in solidarity with our mother Earth, and the poor and vulnerable across the globe who suffer most from climate change:
- Adjust the thermostat. Turn down the air conditioning to reduce your home’s energy consumption. This is probably one of your most carbon intensiveactivities, but a change of just 5 degrees is a great start! Even better: Install a programmable thermostat.
- Use your window coverings. This summer, close your curtains during the day to block heat from the sun. In winter, open your curtains to allow the sun to warm the house.
Such simple steps can significantly reduce the need for AC and heating, and your personal consumption of energy.
The U.N. designates June 20 as World Refugee Day. Honor your immigrant ancestors by taking action to benefit future generations.
ENERGY CONSERVATION. Give Your CLOTHES DRYER a VACATION. In many countries, the norm is to air-dry freshly-washed laundry. About a third of American households do dry on a line or a rack — No need for the energy-intensive process of creating heat in the dryer and in the house, especially in the summer.
Hang-drying is one way to make a difference by reducing damage to our environment from burning fossil fuels just to dry the wash. This is smart for the care of the Earth, responds to our call to be stewards of our shared home, and contributes to the health of our families:
- Clothes will smell great when hung outdoors to dry
- Your favorite items will be safe from dryer wear-and-tear and shrinkage
- Your energy bill will shrink — Air-drying is free; no softener or dryer sheets to buy; you can use a cold-water wash and still get clean clothes – the sun deodorizes and is antibacterial!
Air-dry tips: Clothes can be air dried no matter the season, but sometimes may seem stiff. Instead of buying toxic fabric softener, add ½ cup vinegar to the final rinse to soften clothes and break down the detergent (no odor is left) – a plus for detergent-sensitive allergies. Prevent wrinkles by snapping your clothes before hanging. Place shirts and pants on hangers instead of using clothespins. No space outside? Expecting rain? Dry indoors using a folding rack.
The climate crisis is a serious concern. It’s time for us to get serious about reducing “luxury” energy use.
WHY CATHOLICS CARE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE …
… because: “Everything is connected.” In a 2015 article from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, this theme from Pope Francis’s encyclical on Care for Our Common Home is expanded:
“Our attitude toward our common home is inseparable from our attitude toward the unborn, poor, and all who are vulnerable. The crises of our age have arisen because we refuse to receive created things in humility, simple joy, and awe at the work of God.”
Author, Aaron Matthew Weldon, continues with some simple suggestions from Pope Francis for developing gratitude and reverence:
- Pray before and after meals to inspire thankfulness for the food we receive.
- Cultivate a spirit of gratitude and awe at the beauty of the earth. Choose some seemingly simple object, and consider its complexity and grandeur. Choose a different piece of creation every day.
SUPPORT THE PARIS AGREEMENT. A decision on whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will happen any day. You have the chance to ensure we do. Take a moment to send this letter to President Trump, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and your U.S. House Representative. Or reach them via Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121.
“It is the poor and vulnerable who disproportionately suffer from the effects of climate change, such as hurricanes, floods, drought, famine, and water scarcity. These impacts of climate change threaten to foster even more desperation and suffering in the world that could lead to greater global instability and unrest.
“It is our moral duty, and in our national interest, to honor our pledge in the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist the poor and vulnerable among us to adapt.”
Tell your elected officials that you want the U.S. to take leadership in reducing worldwide green-house gas emissions and help poor nations adapt to the impact of climate change.
Why buying “stuff” is a moral act. We who live in the U.S. use a far greater share of Earth’s resources than others. While Jesus was on earth, He modeled a life based on simplicity, and love of God and neighbor. He entrusted us–his followers–to carry on his work.
“The greatness of any nation is revealed in its effective care of society’s most vulnerable members – women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and minorities – lest any person or social group be excluded or marginalized.” Pope Francis, Address to Gov’t Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps, April 28, 2017
Thus: “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act. Today, in a word, the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle.” Pope Francis, Laudato Sí
Are we willing to —
- Buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and homes?
- Trade in our electronics less frequently?
- Eat sustainably?
- Waste less of our food?
- Shop less?
- Use fewer disposable items?
Choose one change and try to make it a new habit.
Think Twice Before Shopping. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills. So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need that new item. If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.
- See “The Story of Stuff” under the Movies tab at storyofstuff.org
- Read about the Zero Waste movement at ecocycle.org
Consider Pope Francis’s words:
“When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume…..” Laudato Sí
Called to Care for Our Common Home. Sometimes it’s easier to ignore environmental challenges like climate change when they seem too big and overwhelming to fix. In his encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis teaches:
God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone; his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.
In addition to taking some personal steps to reduce your own carbon footprint, contact our US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and your U.S. House Representative (reach them via Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121). Tell them that you want the United States to take leadership in reducing worldwide green-house gas emissions and provide the help necessary for poor nations to adapt to the impact of climate change.
May 21—Easter Season:
Called to Care for Our Common Home. While Jesus was on earth he modeled a life based on simplicity and love of God and neighbor. Jesus entrusted us, his followers, to carry on his work. “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act. Today, in a word, the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle.” (Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home).
We who live in the United States use a far greater share of the earth’s resources than others. Are we willing to —
- Buy smaller more fuel-efficient cars and homes?
- Trade in our electronics less frequently?
- Shop less?
- Eat sustainably?
- Waste less food?
- Use fewer disposable items?
Choose one change and try to make it a new habit.
“Ultimately, true development is measured by concern for human beings…. The greatness of any nation is revealed in its effective care of society’s most vulnerable members – women, children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and minorities – lest any person or social group be excluded or marginalized.” Pope Francis, Address to Government Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps, April 28, 2017
May 7—Easter Season:
Advocate for Environmental Protections. Pope Francis teaches, “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains, everything is, as it were, a caress of God” [Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home]. The earth is our home given to us by God, who trusts us to care for this gift for ourselves and future generations. A presidential executive order earlier this year rescinded and weakened many environmental protections. Bishop Frank J. Dewane, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, stated in response, “With this recent order, the Administration risks damage to our air, our waters and, most importantly, our people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, without proposing a concrete and adequate approach to meet our stewardship obligations as a nation.” Please contact the White House at 202-456-1111 or www.whitehouse.gov to advocate for policies that curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“I encourage the financial experts and the political leaders of your countries to consider the words of Saint John Chrysostom: ‘Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs.'” Pope Francis, 5/16/13
For Lent, consider fasting from some resources that harm the environment. Here are weekly consumer fasts that promote a sense of solidarity with people whose poverty keeps them from consuming:
Lenten Week 6 & Holy Week:
Called to Care for Our Common Home. April 23 is Divine Mercy Sunday. “Every Christian community is called to go out of itself and be engaged with the society of which it is a part. Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes, will become islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” [Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home]
The Easter season renews our hope and invites us to live in a spirit of love, mercy, thanksgiving……ready to respond to the challenges of our time with a deep faith. Global climate change is a challenge that demands our response now – for the sake of our children, future generations, and the poor, who will be most harshly impacted.
Learn about the global impact of climate change – rent the documentary, Before the Flood, or check out other National Geographic videos. Think about how our everyday choices may be causing earth’s climate to change. Are we indifferent to global climate change? Earth Day is observed every April 22. Decide this weekend to take one small step to care for the earth and each other.
“May the Church be a place of God’s mercy and hope, where all feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged to live according to the good life of the Gospel. And to make others feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, and encouraged, the Church must be with doors wide open so that all may enter. And we must go out through these doors and proclaim the Gospel.” Pope Francis, 6/12/13
Lenten Week 5: The 8th Work of Mercy
Showing Mercy to Our Common Home. In his message “Show Mercy to our Common Home,” Pope Francis named caring for our common home as a new act of mercy, along with feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and the other corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.
“…if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces. Obviously ‘human life itself and everything it embraces’ includes care for our common home. So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: May the works of mercy also include care for our common home.”
Since Earth Day, April 22, and Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23, occur on the same weekend, it’s a perfect opportunity to practice both a spiritual and corporal work of mercy towards our common home. Pope Francis suggests “grateful contemplation” and “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world”
Lenten Week 4: Consumer Fast
Fasting from Hopelessness. Responding to climate change can feel overwhelming — how much difference can one person make by changing lightbulbs? But individual actions are essential if we are going to leave behind a viable planet for our children and our grandchildren. Those actions must include both personal conservation of resources and participation in a public movement to insist that our leaders do their part. Public demonstrations may be outside your normal comfort zone, but love — of children, of grandchildren, of the beauty of the earth, of our Creator — compels us to take courageous steps. Choose your first step:
1. Call your Senators and Representative and let them know that their support for environmental protections and honoring the Paris Agreement will affect your vote in the next elections. Sen. Schumer: 263-5866. Sen. Gillibrand: 263-6250. Rep. Slaughter 232-4850. Rep. Collins: 519-4002
2. Join a local group that is committed to environmental protection. Two possibilities: Mothers Out Front, or the Rochester People’s Climate Coalition.
3. Start or join a “Care of Creation” or “St. Francis Team” in your own parish. [Note: We are launching just such a group. Check out our page “Focus on the Environment.“]
4. Follow Pope Francis’ advice that Catholics “go out into the streets” and participate in the local or national March for Science on April 22 and/or People’s Climate March on April 29. Bring a parish banner and join the Catholic contingent. Posters and information about buses here.
“During this Jubilee Year, let us learn to implore God’s mercy for those sins against creation that we have not hitherto acknowledged and confessed. Let us likewise commit ourselves to taking concrete steps towards ecological conversion, which requires a clear recognition of our responsibility to ourselves, our neighbours, creation and the Creator (ibid., 10 and 229).” Pope Francis, Show Mercy to Our Common Home 9/1/16
Lenten Week 3: Consumer Fast
Fasting from Food Waste. A United Nations report tells us that “In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.” Not only does wasting food deprive the world’s hungry of essential calories, the methane produced by its decomposition adds a potent greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. In addition, the water, fertilizer and energy used in producing, packaging and transporting the food has gone to waste. What to do?
The U.N. encourages us to Think-Eat-Save. Think about how food gets wasted in your home and plan ahead to eliminate waste. Eat consciously—bring home restaurant leftovers; freeze food before it goes bad; get creative with food you have before you buy more. Save money, resources and health by being aware of how you spend your food dollars.
Donate what you save to CRS Rice Bowl. Advocate for hungry people: Click here
“Consumerism and a ‘culture of waste’ have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious re-sources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger. I ask all of you to reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family.” Pope Francis, Laudato Si
Lenten Week 2: Consumer Fast
Fasting from Water Waste. Even in our region where we enjoy abundant lakes and rainfall, water conservation is becoming increasingly important as the effects of climate change even impact our temperate weather. Lent also calls us to be aware of the suffering of the many people who do not have ready access to clean water. A good Lenten practice is to increase awareness of the ways we use and waste water resources. Simple habits like not letting the water run while brushing your teeth or shaving can save gallons a day. Heating and purifying water both take energy, so use cold water for things like rinsing dishes and rainwater for outside watering when possible. For more tips, see More Ways to Save Water
“…access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.” Pope Francis, Laudato Si
Lenten Week 1: Think Twice Before Shopping
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is just as important today as when the phrase was first coined. Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills. So, before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it. If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging and shipping.
“When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume…. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.” Pope Francis, Laudato Si
For more information about social ministry, or about the Social Ministry Committee, call the Cluster office and leave a message for the committee chairperson, Mary Lisa Sisson. Call: 473-9656