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