Remind us that Creation is Sacred-The World is a Chalice of Grace.
Most Reverend Bishop Michael Pfeifer, O.M.I., Retired Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, March 10, 2015
World Water Day, March 22, and World Earth Day, April 22, focus on our responsibility to the reverence and enhancement all of creation. These days call all of us to develop a new respect and appreciation for “Mother Earth”, Our Home, for all the gifts that we receive from the Earth, especially water that we people, and ALL living things, need to survive. On these two Ecological Days we celebrate the beauty and wonder of God’s creation which has its origin in a plan of love and truth.
God gave human beings the gracious gift of Earth for our use and that of future generations, and as his stewards we are to respect it and care for it. Our mandate from God is to complete the work of creation, to perfect its harmony and growth for our own good and that of our neighbors. As guardians of the environment, we are to ensure the proper balance of the ecosystems on which we depend.
The creation that surrounds us is a “chalice of grace," it is gracious, because it reveals God’s abundant goodness. This grace, this goodness, is found everywhere and to treat it with disrespect is blasphemy. The imprint of the creator, as the patron of the environment, St. Francis teaches us, is found in all of creation, especially in humans. The environment is sacred, as it comes from the holy hands of our Creator and to ruthlessly exploit it is a sacrilege.
Pope Francis reminds us: “We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Pope Benedict XVI calls “the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.” Francis call us to be protectors of creation, of God’s plan inscribed in nature. Ecologists seek the conversion of cultures and individuals from a focus on consumption to lives of temperance, and from being a “throw away” society, a “culture of waste,” to being a sharing and sustainable community, recycling and repairing the environment, and using nature’s gifts in a responsible manner. This calls for ecological conversion. As we care for creation, we realize that our Father-Creator, indeed cares for us.
Our engagement of the world must transcend politics, policy, and science and focus on human ecology, which calls for a conversion of life-style, and sharing of all of Earths goods with all inhabitants. We are living in a time of crisis, fracturing the environment in countless ways including global climate change. We see damage in the nature that surrounds us, but also we see it in men and women. Science and Technology have contributed much to progress and enrich the gifts of creation. However, there are moral limits to their use and application, among which is their sometimes deleterious effects on the environment. The proper ecological balance demands international cooperation, inter-generational solidarity and addressing the roots of poverty.
These two special days, focused on water and on planet earth filled with abundant gracious gifts, call us to reflect on the deeper meaning of ecology. Ecology stems from the Greek Oikos, which means “home” and shares the same roots with ecology and economy. Ecological living require us to care for our earthly “home” with an economy that respects creation in a pattern of sustainable development and prudent use of energy, water and food resources… and also sharing them with others.
Ecology implies a system of relationships and interaction, and we can say that maintaining a proper Ecology of our natural environment is only possible when we foster a truly “Human Ecology” which is inseparably linked to natural ecology. All ecology is strengthened when we promote human relationships and interactions that respect the dignity of the human person, the crown of creation, the common good and all of nature.
World Water Day, calls all of us to a water management and resource distribution ethic that must be guided by considerations for the common good of the people of the world and the natural systems of the planet itself.
Of all the precious gifts on Planet Earth water is a basic right and has a preeminent place as it is essential for all life. How we use our water involves the choices we all make. All can choose to participate in preserving and protecting the gift of water. I present a practical way for this to happen as suggested in the local Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District manual - “Water - Yours, Mine, Ours:” and,
“which presents a three-part strategy for taking better care of water: Conserve it, capture it, and keep it clean.”
- Conserve water, which means changing our Water Culture from one that takes and uses water for granted and freely wastes it, to a New Water Culture that considers it priceless.
- Capture water by harvesting rain so as to achieve water independence even during drought times.
Clean water, which means protecting the water underground and the water in our rivers and reservoirs by minimizing pollutants in our yards, on our rangeland and on our streets. Keeping water Clean protects our health, reduces unnecessary purification costs and helps the whole environment.
World Water Day invites all of us, wherever we live, to join in water conservation by saving water on a daily basis. To do this, I invite you to take the “40 Gallon Challenge-Pledge.” This could save a minimum
of 40 gallons a day in each household, which when multiplied by many pledges would amount to a great deal of water saved.
Our fundamental orientation toward the creative world should be one of gratitude and thankfulness. The world, in fact, leads people back to the mystery of God who has created it and continues to sustain it.