January 9, 2013
A New Year always brings with it the promise and hope of new beginnings. Particularly during this Year of Faith, we continue to explore new avenues of becoming more faithful disciples of Jesus, and, in the process, creating a better world in which to live.
In his 2010 World Day of Peace Message, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” the Holy Father stated that “respect for creation is of immense consequence.” He writes of the troubling “threats arising from the neglect - if not downright misuse - of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and toward whom we are journeying.”
Pope Benedict XVI asks, “Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change…the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers…and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions?”
We need only look at our own fields here in the North Country. Where once stood many small well-kept family farms with acres of neat furrows of corn and meadows plush with oats and clover, today we see brush and brambles. Proudly productive lands have become wasted eyesores. Tragically, economics have impacted our local environment.
While scientists and politicians continue to debate the impact that human behavior has on our climate, there is no arguing the fact that our behavior affects the environment in which we live.
God commands man and woman “to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gn. 1:28) This command is a summons to responsibility. How tragic then that we have interpreted this command as a license to exploit or neglect the land on which we live without thought for our children’s future.
As this New Year begins, I invite us all to reflect on how our personal lifestyle and habits affect our environment. Groups of concerned parishioners have come together in several of our parishes seeking to heighten such awareness. Parish programs such as Lent 4.5 have proven to be highly successful means for parishioners to reflect on simplicity, personal consumption, and environmental stewardship.
I encourage such parish efforts which offer programs that focus on information, education and the formation of the sense of responsibility in children and adults toward environmentally sound patterns of development and stewardship of creation.
As we meditate on Scripture’s view of creation, we are caught up in its majesty and beauty. St. Francis of Assisi encouraged his followers to contemplate creation and to praise God.
Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution that will help you to become a more faithful disciple this Year of Faith? Take the time each day to marvel at God’s gift of creation and, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, find ways you can better reverence all life. May the God of all creation bless you and your loved ones as we greet this New Year!