by James Salamy
In the last several articles of Going Deeper in the Spiritual Life, we have been looking at pastoral care. In this article, we will continue to examine pastoral care. In particular, this article will focus on pastoral care of the environment.
Pastoral care of the environment is not a new theme. It harkens all the way back to the beginning of creation, when God created the earth and placed all of creation: the birds, the fish, the animals, and all the plants in the care of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 1:27-30)
We see the interaction with creation throughout the Old and New Testaments and throughout the history of humanity. Humanity does not exist in a vacuum. Humanity exists with the earth, with creation. We need the earth and creation to survive. It is our common home.
Saint Francis of Assisi echoes this theme throughout his preaching, teaching, and prayers. He refers to creation in deeply personal and human terms, such as brother sun, sister moon, and mother earth. Saint Francis saw, recognized, and then expressed, in deeply human terms, the intertwined and personal relationship between creation, the earth, which is our common home, and humanity.
This theme has arisen again in our time because of the situation that humanity and planet earth are in. Pope Francis wrote about the current situation of the earth, creation, humanity, and their deeply intertwined relationship in his recent encyclical of 2015, Laudato Si’.
In the present era, the theme of care for creation is not unique to Pope Francis. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI have all written about the importance of taking care of the environment and creation.
Care of the environment is also an ecumenical concern, as well. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has also written about the need, especially in this present era, to care for creation and to be good stewards of the earth, our common home.
This need to care for creation exists because the earth is our common home. We all live on planet earth: past, present, and future generations, and the rich and the poor alike. All humanity shares planet earth. Also, and more importantly, God, who is the Creator, has entrusted us with the care of creation. He who made the earth gave it to us and entrusted it to us, as our responsibility to care for.
Therefore, let us heed the Divine call to be good stewards of creation and to care for our common home, the earth, that was given to us by God to live in and to preserve in good order, for future generations.