April 27, 2020
With congregation-wide commitments, sisters are active in sustainable living
Living, building, teaching, preserving all factor into their care of Earth
Magdalena Benassar, contributor
The Life Panel, Global Sisters Report
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, celebrated April 22, 1970, our panelists shared many of the strategies and concrete steps their congregations are using to promote sustainability, preserve a healthy environment and combat climate change in their responses to the following prompt: Describe some ways your congregation is calling its members to sustainability in light of climate change. (Global Sisters Report Editors)
To be part of Thomas Berry's Ecozoic era requires the intelligence of an alert heart. Let's stop and listen to the heartbeat of the Earth and, if you are able, bow down to the parcel of earth nearest to you and listen to the Earth's story.
It all began millions of years ago, when she was unfolding her beauty in the form of blue oceans and seas, forests and rocks, mountains and green lands, golden deserts and high skies.
Millions of species began to emerge and grow. They helped each other to develop in a chain of mutual support.
Everything was marvelous when on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26), just before reaching perfection, humankind loomed: the conscious ones called to honor the existing blooming of life and be part of the whole.
Like a pandemic virus, we humans exploded. Consciousness was infected by selfishness, and we humans destroyed life.
But in the midst of savage fires, we can discover the ecological refugia: islands of green among the ashes, nests for the seeds of life, a metaphor for consecrated life in the 21st century.
The great deconstruction began for many of us years ago when studying and implementing in our houses and
lifestyles a total respect for sister Earth by implementing "sustainability principles":
avoiding depletion of the Earth's natural resources to maintain an ecological balance;
acting as stewards versus acting as owners;
renouncing the ownership of buildings after listening to the cry of the Earth and of the poor;
living simple lifestyles in simple households as a way to radically reduce energy, water, maintenance expenses;
being self-supportive to understand the cost and value of everything we use, eat, enjoy or break;
renouncing elitism and the titles and privileged status which keep us from serving the planet and its people instead of using them all for our own benefit.
Education and unbiased information are crucial if we are to be respectful to the planet. Many of us are re-educating ourselves through courses, readings and discussions.
Without titles, without meat, without buildings; informed and alert, we lessen our consumerism and become respectful pilgrims on our sacred sister Earth.
It is up to our consciences how we use our time, talents and abilities to minister to the planet, our agonizing sister without which life stops existing. Either we change, or the planet takes care of it, as we are experiencing with the present pandemic.
Maria Magdalena Bennasar (Magda) of the Sisters for Christian Community is from Spain. Studies in theology gave her a foundation for the charism of prayer and ministry of the Word with an emphasis on spirituality and Scripture: teaching, conducting retreats and workshops, creating community and training lay leaders in Australia, the U.S. and Spain. Currently, she is working on ecospirituality and searching for a space to create a center or collaborate with others