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September 22, 2020

Promoting integral ecology

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

CCSJ urges everyone to continue to pray and act during this final week of the Season of Creation, which runs until October 4, the Feast day of St Francis of Assisi. As you know, the theme this year is: Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.

Everything we have is gift from God. He created us to live in peace and harmony with each other and with His Creation. We are co-creators and caretakers/stewards of God’s Creation.

Today, climate change is due in part to the actions of human beings. You would have read the news recently that some of the flooding that takes place in T&T is due to some people building over watercourses.

We continue to destroy our environment with impunity. Too often people shout about their rights but forget their responsibilities. Pope Benedict XVI has said to us: “Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive.”

As we continue to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home (LS), let us reflect on the wisdom contained therein.

The Holy Father refers to an integral ecology which “highlights not just the interconnectedness that exists among God, humanity and creation, but also recognises how political, economic, cultural, social and religious values and decisions are interrelated and affect the way people live with one another on the planet and use its resources.” (Catholic News Service (CNS)).

He says: “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (para 139, LS).

“That one complex crisis stems from a defective anthropology that does not recognize and respect the full dignity of others, who are all part of one human family. Such a vision, blinded by greed or self-centeredness, leads to many forms of exclusion, exploitation and serious offences against human rights and the environment. Integral ecology requires a cultural and spiritual conversion built on a ‘culture of encounter.’ It underlines how relationships should be based on an attitude of caring for one’s common home; one’s brothers and sisters; and one’s relationship with God, the creator” (CNS).

As Pope Francis states: “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings…Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change…A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (paras 91, 202, LS).

What event(s) are you, your family, your parish, your school etc. organising to mark this final week of the Season of Creation? Prayer and action are required. Remember that “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” (para 23, LS,). See for some tips.

I share hereunder a spiritually uplifting poem by Jae-Marc Tagallie, Presentation College, Chaguanas – one of the schools that has organised activities during the Season of Creation:

Where Have My Birds Gone?

As sunrise beckons the sights and sounds of nature
All of God’s glory, is known in the enrapture
My birds sing sweetly, awakening the journey
And I give thanks, I am not created to be lonely.

Where have my birds gone to greet me?
I have looked far beyond my wall to see
Their evergreen home, a beautiful flowering tree
Oh! I am blinded now by the sight, the absence of God’s beauty.

Concrete is the new ‘green’ it would seem
Who has the authority to re-create my dream?
To build our homes without my birds?
To replace lush grass with tarred roads?

My morning light comes from electricity
My morning alarm is the advance of technology
My morning sounds, vehicular
My journey now, so peculiar.

Alas! The heavens and the seas, rebuke the intrusion
They are sending the signs that there is confusion
The paths we cross toward our development
Must honour nature’s divine empowerment.

Remember, ‘all is gift’ is one of the reasons
To return to the glory of nature and rest in its seasons
To restore all the earth, is our vocation
And rejoice always, in the season of creation.

A prayer for migrants and refugees on World Day for Migrants and Refugees – September 27
By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & the Archdiocese’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees

May Our Lady of the Wayside shelter migrants and refugees under her mantle and intercede with her Son, Jesus Christ, for them, so that His merciful love will shine on them.

All that we have is your gift to us, Lord. As Pope Francis has said: “Showing hospitality to strangers, especially migrants, is an opportunity for unity and for sharing Christ’s love.”

Let us welcome, protect, promote, and integrate our brothers and sisters who have come to our shores seeking peace.