As a volunteer observer for the U.S. National Weather Service, Benedictine Sr. Marva Hoeckelman records temperatures each day at South Dakota's Mother of God Monastery. The work is simple but profound for Hoeckelman, who also writes nature poetry.
We are living in the midst of several major crises, including the environment and the institutional church. Does academic theology play a role? Well, yes. As co-creators, we can begin to better integrate theology and science.
Our Earth is burning. Our sacred "Sister Mother Earth who sustains and governs us" is on fire. We see the sacred spires of trees in the Amazon falling to fire, the baptismal fonts of rivers and lakes languishing in drought and pollution, the daily eucharistic altars of family tables in Honduras, Salvador and Guatemala empty of food for children, and we stand before the death beds of species becoming extinct as we act as hospice-midwives.
What does a "religious solution" to the environmental problem look like in a church that seems to be riddled with dysfunction? But the crisis does not belong to the clergy alone; we also have a crisis of academic theology.
Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home" was widely lauded for its scope on the moral and ethical response to protecting Earth's environment for future generations.
Jane Dwyer and Kathryn "Katy" Webster, both Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, quietly help support poor agricultural workers in the Amazon in their struggles for land and better living conditions, even amid escalating violence. The sisters continue the legacy of Sr. Dorothy Stang of the same congregation, who was murdered 14 years ago in rural Anapu.
On outdoor porch swing, my "oneness with Creation" provides a morning liturgy like none other: I can only praise a Cosmic Creator whose evolutionary artistry leaves me speechless. This is the context in which I've read a new biography on Thomas Berry.
Contemplate This - Seeing climate change as an existential crisis is worth pondering and bringing to contemplation. Climate change seen in this way brings us face to face with the core questions of every human person. Who are we? Why are we here? What do we care about? Faith and religion have tried to address such questions and offer ways of responding.
Started in June 2018, the Sowing Hope for the Planet campaign challenged congregations to find ways, both personally and in their communities, to implement the message of the pope's encyclical Laudato Si'. Leading the effort has been Sr. Sheila Kinsey, a member of the Franciscan Sisters, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and executive co-secretary for UISG's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission.
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