“… Dew and rain bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Ice and snow bless the Lord.
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness bless the Lord.
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.”
This verse from Sunday Morning Prayer, Week I, of The Liturgy of the Hours reminds us to give thanks for the Earth on which God has planted us. No matter our backgrounds, religious beliefs, political views or social status, we hold in common our earthly home.
Earth is our temporary home; our permanent residence is heaven. Stewardship of the Earth, for us and for future generations, is a requirement of our faith, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (https://tinyurl.com/3w69bg6).
“We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. It is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith,” the statement says. “We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.”
Each year’s celebration of Earth Day (April 22) provides an opportunity to think anew about how to carry out that stewardship as individuals, parishes, schools, communities, nation and world. An Earth Day Conference at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant on Earth Day is a good place to start.
The conference, scheduled from 1:30-7:30 p.m., focuses on environmental justice and our role as stewards of creation, particularly in southeast Iowa. Topics include composting in our backyards, planting for pollinators, recycling for everyone, wind and solar energy, water quality, stewardship and the Bible, the lazy person’s guide to saving the planet, climate change and electric cars.
Father Bud Grant, a theology professor at St. Ambrose University in Davenport who writes a column for The Catholic Messenger, will give a lecture during the conference. “Eco-Librium: A New Stewardship of Creation” will be presented at 1:30 p.m. in Iowa Wesleyan University’s chapel. Learn more about the conference at www.iw.edu/calendar/earth-day or call (800) 582-2383.
Check with your local schools to see whether they are offering Earth-day related events or programs this week. Burlington Notre Dame Catholic Schools in Burlington, for example, is hosting a Recycle Fair tonight (April 19) at 6:30 p.m. in the elementary school gym.
At the state level, where Iowa legislators are struggling with a tax reform bill, advocate for reform that will not take away or reduce critical funding for programs that benefit the environment and people, such as solar energy initiatives. Water quality legislation that passed earlier this year also needs more robust funding if we are committed to improving and preserving our waterways for future generations.
The global initiative, Earth Day 2018, focuses on ending plastic pollution, which is growing exponentially and, as a result, harming human and marine life, clogging our waste streams and landfills and threatening the survival of our planet. The Earth Day Network provides information and resources that can help us to change our attitudes and behavior about plastics at www.earthday.org.
Some tips for individuals:
• Pick up trash, especially in ponds, streams, rivers and beaches whenever possible. Participate in organized cleanups in your community. Consider purchasing items made of natural fibers. When dining out, forgo using a straw to drink your beverage. Bring reusable canvas bags to the grocery store to carry your purchases. Choose products without plastic packaging or excessive packaging. Use mesh bags to hold bulk produce. Clean out your medicine closet on National Take-Back Day, April 28. This is a free, anonymous and responsible way to take stock of prescription medicines and keep loved ones safe. To find an authorized collection site, call (800) 882-9539 or go to takeback
Some tips for organizations:
• Tell others about the End Plastic Pollution Campaign. Share photos and stories on social media about what you’re doing to end plastics pollution year-round. Tag your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts with #EarthDay2018 #EndPlasticPollution #lessplastic #plasticless.
Finally, reflect on these words of Pope Francis from his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si:”
“… [W]e come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast. In union with all creatures, we journey through this land seeking God … May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor