Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Did you hear that? Were you listening? I know that it’s hard to believe but it’s the God’s honest truth! I’m speaking about the reading from the first letter to the Corinthians. These first three lines of the letter are just a salutation, but what a salutation. St. Paul said we “are called to be saints.” You and me—saints!
When God calls us to be something or do something, we need to be alert. God doesn’t speak in thunderclaps or earthquakes. Rather, the voice of God comes in a whisper that only the vigilant will hear. We read in today’s gospel passage that John the Baptist heard God’s call that John was to be the witness who testified that Jesus was the Lamb of God. In our selection from the prophet Isaiah, we read that the whole nation of Israel was called by God to be a light to the nations. For us to really understand our calling to be saints means that we also must be vigilant to hear the promptings of God’s Spirit calling and directing us. St. Paul gives us a head-start: he tells us that through our baptism each of us is called to be a saint, but how to be a saint and where to respond to God occurs in the daily unfolding of our lives.
Many people considered Mother Theresa to be a saint while she was alive. She gave up a comfortable life in order to serve the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. She walked the streets looking for the destitute and dying poor. She brought them to the convent where they could be cared for lovingly until death would take them. Few would doubt that her life of prayer and love of the poor were saintly. Mother Seton was a different kind of saint and lived in the early days of the American colonies. After being widowed, her local bishop asked her to start a religious order of women who taught children who could not afford ordinary schools. Having started teaching, she held the bishop’s feet to the fire when she needed money and other resources to run her schools. Elizabeth Ann Seton trusted Providence, but also helped God’s instrument see clearly his responsibility toward this project. When the bishop did not want to see Mother Seton, she sat outside his office until she could see him, refusing to take “no” for an answer. Some of the local clergy nick named her “Bitchy Betty” because of her insistence that the bishop aide her schools. And she was a saint, too. Saints come in a variety of temperaments and lived in all ages everywhere in our world.
It could be very easy for us to object saying, “I’m no saint,” but it would be very wrong of us. Every baptized person is called by God to be a saint, someone who belongs to God and tries daily to find and do God’s will. Saints are not those who make no mistakes—hardly! But saints are committed to responding to God’s invitation to love at all times and everywhere.
The life of love is an active life. Love is far more that a feeling. Love is the decision to do only what is good for another. Love does not harm others. In fact, love is the yardstick for the Christian life. If this is so, then how does a Christian approach the natural world in which he or she lives? How does one love all creatures?
The answer is simple, actually. One loves Earth by doing what is good for all creatures and doing no harm to the land, water, air or living beings. What can be difficult is judging which choices, what purchases, and what activities are beneficial and which are harmful? Fortunately, there are a plethora of resources to help guide us in this “saintly green” life. Even the US government agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, provides help in making green purchases. The EPA tells us, “buying green helps to:
• Improve safety and health of our patients, workers and the public
• Reduce pollution
• Conserve natural resources and energy
• Develop new, more environmentally friendly products
• Stimulate new markets for recycled materials and create jobs
• Improve awareness of environmental stewardship
• Protect the research mission
• Provide potential cost savings
• Reduce liabilities
• Comply with environmental laws and regulations.”
If you’d like to see what else the EPA says about green purchasing go to their web page at http://orf.od.nih.gov/Environmental+Protection/Green+Purchasing/.
Businesses are now active in purchasing green, too. Business owners who want to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid toxic products do well to go to http://www.resourceventure.org/green-your-business/waste-prevention-recycling/green-purchasing. This web site gives step by step instructions about recycling, avoiding waste and other forms of green purchasing.
For the ordinary individual or family buyers, resources like E Magazine have excellent guides, articles and advertisements for green products that will help homes become carbon neutral. Food, cleaning products, pet services and supplies, paint, heating and cooling appliances (and others), and most of our daily product uses are evaluated and judged for their environmental friendliness. Green saints do well to consider these aspects of loving the Earth and safeguarding it for many generations to come.
We are called to be saints and our love for one another and the earth is the yardstick of truly saintly lives. The life of a saint is a day-to-day, year-by-year practice of doing good and avoiding harm. You and I are called to be saints. Let’s get this new year off to a good start by evaluating how well we are already doing at loving the Earth and where our cutting edge sanctity will take us.
The Green Nun's Favorite Links
- Audubon Society
- Carbon Footprint Calculator
- Catholic Coalition on Climate Change
- E Magazine
- Earth Literacy Masters Program at SMW College
- Environment California
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Forest Ethics
- Friends of the Earth
- Global Climate Change Report
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Ocean Conservancy
- Pacific Environment
- Sierra Club
- The Nature Conservancy
- Union of Concerned Scientists
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