The Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
"We won't Green our Planet until we Green our Pulpits."
A colleague in ministry recently shared the above quote with me and upon reflection, I could not agree more if we are going to be serious about the Climate Crisis facing our world. She said this because of her frustration that seldom, if ever, does she hear anything from the pulpit addressing The Care of God’s Creation, one of the seven primary social teachings of our Church. I am sure there are a variety of reasons why preachers do not address the
perhaps they are afraid they will upset the congregation who believe it is a political issue and not a moral/ethical issue,
perhaps they feel uncomfortable because they are not as well informed as they think they should be on the climate crisis issue,
perhaps they believe the issue is a hoax and there is no real solid proof there is anything to the Climate Crisis.
I am writing you to ask you to put all those ‘perhaps’ statements behind you and make every effort to turn the pulpit green. The Climate Crisis is a spiritual, moral, religious issue. I am your brother priest who believes we must address the issue from the pulpit. The first couple of times I did I was hesitant to do so, but I received overwhelming
support for speaking out on this critical issue.
I recently traveled through several National Parks in the West. Throughout the adventure I was overcome with the beauty of our country. It is difficult to describe how blessed we are as citizens of God’s world. I was saddened on several occasions by the obvious threats to nature, threats such as the smoke in the air which greatly limited the view of the mountains and canyons. I was encouraged by such things as the signs in hotel rooms asking us to turn off the water while brushing our teeth or shaving and asking us
to use the towels for several days. These may sound like small actions but by putting them together, they can have a tremendous impact on our Caring for God’s Creation.
We are in the middle of the Season of Creation (see links below) which began on September 1 and runs through the Feast of St. Francis on October 4. This is a time that calls all of us who preach to address the Climate Crisis our world is facing and dealing with each day. With these things in mind, I encourage you to please consider preaching on the topic of the Climate Crisis the weekend of October 2 and 3, the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings can easily be connected to the topic. The first
reading from Genesis addresses a portion of the creation story. The Gospel from Mark addresses marriage and divorce. With a little imagination, one could easily address our marriage to God’s creation as humans and how we perhaps are divorcing ourselves from God’s creation through our abuse of it.
A key factor in Caring for God’s Creation is how we live each day, adjusting our lifestyle to live more simply. Here are some ideas about how to live a simpler lifestyle and care for God’s creation.
- Stop using liquid laundry soap from petroleum-based bottles and switch to laundry soap pads.
- Drink fewer liquid refreshments from plastic bottles, thus lowering the use of petroleum-based products.
- Consider going meatless (see link below) one or several days of the week.
- Change your thermostat, not only to a programmable one, but also consider turning the heat down to 65 and wearing a sweater or leave your air conditioning at 74.
- On a parish level, encourage the formation of Care for Creation teams in your parish. Frequently include Climate in Prayers of the Faithful and homilies. Feature Climate issues in your bulletin and on your website. Install energy-efficient lighting, use clean energy sources, biodegradable paper goods, etc. in your parish and residence.
This is only a short list of how we can live more simply, there are many more. What are your examples?
As preachers, there are numerous websites to help us understand the climate issue and most give homily ideas:
Recently I retired from Transfiguration Parish in Pittsford, NY which has a very active Care of God’s Creation Committee. Over the years they developed a community garden with 70 families involved and last year they were able to donate nearly two tons of food to local charities. Presently they are planting 3000 trees on parish property; about 20% will survive. This effort will assist in cleaning the air. The project will take several years to complete, but it is a step in the right direction. These
two endeavors are totally under the control of the Committee; all I needed to do was give them a smile and words of encouragement!
I also strongly encourage you to include bulletin articles and pulpit announcements relative to local, state, and national climate issues and legislation. The resources that I have already mentioned will provide numerous ideas to assist you in accomplishing this goal.
I thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I prayerfully hope you will take what I have said into serious consideration and continue to or begin to bring this very serious issue to the attention to those with whom you share the Good News each day. I invite you to share your thoughts with me and our Climate Crisis Work Group on how we can promote this message more effectively.
"We need to turn our pulpits Green to save the Green of our Planet!”
In peace and courage,
Chair of the AUSCP Climate Crisis Work Group and Vice-Chair of AUSCP Leadership Team
Retired priest of Rochester, NY
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