THE GREEN WAY OF LENT - BY SUREN ABREU
Lent is an opportunity to reflect on our actions and make appropriate changes to walk more easily the path of life shown by Jesus. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and each Sunday of Lent has a meaningful Gospel passage that can be connected to an environmental concern.
Let us challenge ourselves to take simple positive steps that will, cumulatively and over a period of time, benefit the environment which is God’s wonderful gift to us. The suggested steps apply to individuals, families, communities, and institutions. They are not for a day only, but meant to become a lifestyle choice.
Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, while human beings have been on Earth for around 200,000 years, which makes our race one of Earth’s youngest babies. As babies, we have been nourished by Earth; every atom and molecule that makes our physical form is to be found in Earth. As carbon-based life forms, we share that attribute with all the other life forms on Earth.
Even more, every article of clothing, every item of food, every part of our dwelling and transport, everything that defines our lives, comes from the Earth. As human beings, we do not create from anything. We merely take what Earth has and transform it into something for our use. Very few other life forms have that ability, and none of them transforms the substances of Earth quite as much as humans do!
On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded: “You are dust, and to dust you will return.” This sentence reminds us of the Genesis 2 story of creation which describes the earthly origin of the human body. It also reminds us that at our end, we are laid in the earth in which our bodies will once again unite with the substance of earth.
As the cradle of our birth, existence, and death, Earth is precious and a God-given gift. All of nature is a delicate balance of beauty and harmony that, left to itself, is a self-sustaining symphony of living and non-living. The fluctuations of weather and climate, the periods of heating and cooling, are all part of that balance which allows for life to flourish.
However, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we have been clawing at Earth, grabbing far more resources than can sustainably be utilised, stretching the limits of Earth’s resistance, and tampering with her balance and poise. Forest destruction, mountain quarrying, mines, coastland alteration, artificial islands, river diversion, mega-dams, mountains of waste, ocean and lake pollution are just some of the consequences of our expansionist and developmental agenda.
Our population has exploded to cross 7.5 billion; correspondingly our per capita utilisation of natural resources has risen, causing an exponential increase in resource depletion. Our contribution of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (currently at over 405ppm) has caused a level over 33% more than at all times in the last 800,000 years of Earth’s existence.
We always have an option to be different – that is what Lent celebrates. If we believe that God gives us the grace to change, we have the chance to make this Lent an opportunity to reflect deeply and make Earth-sustaining choices. The daily suggestions each week can help us commit to restoring Earth. Enjoy Lent!
Wed 6 March
Ashes remind us of carbon.
Reflect on ways to reduce your personal/family carbon footprint. Type “how to reduce my carbon footprint at home” in Google Search for ideas.
Thu 7 March
Commit to lifestyle changes.
Decide on simple, easy to implement changes in your life. Write them down so that you keep a record and a reminder.
Fri 8 March
Changes that benefit the environment benefit us.
Decide to walk more, eat less meat, use less electricity, save water, avoid plastic.
Sat 9 March
Spend some time in prayer.
As an individual and as a family, come together to thank God for the gift of a good Earth which we have to protect and nurture.