On Saturday, 21st February, we hosted a CAFOD DAY on ONE CLIMATE ONE WORLD. Suzy Brouard and Sarah Hagger-Holt led the day.
In the morning Suzy led us in a reflection on the theology behind their Climate Campaign. Until recent times climate change was not a recognized issue, so there is not a wealth of theological resources readily at hand. But as Suzy pointed out, care and respect for creation is extensively documented in our greatest theological book, the Bible, inspired word of God. Through climate lenses it was really quite refreshing looking at the story of creation, the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, the flood.
Suzy’s main scriptural passage for the reflection was the parable of the Good Samaritan. Her creative retelling of the familiar story led us to think of the unlikely and unexpected Good Samaritans today, e.g., the Muslim without French citizenship saving the lives of his Jewish neighbours in the recent massacres in Paris. We looked at the temptation for religious people to be so caught up in rituals and practices like the priest and the Levite (going about doing their duty), that we often do not see the heart of our religion, to reach out to our neighbour in need. The priest ‘saw’ and passed by, the Levite ‘saw’ and passed by. The Samaritan saw and was moved with compassion. He was neighbour to the wounded man. We become neighbour to our brothers and sisters when we recognise that we are all one people, one creation, and seek to find ways to eradicate the wounds that have been inflicted through irresponsible environmental choices. We need to be good Samaritans to all of God’s creation, to be moved to do something about what is happening to our beloved earth because of humankind’s irresponsible actions. In the creation story we read again and again ‘God saw that it was good’. And the care of the earth was entrusted to God’s greatest creation, man and woman made in God’s own image. Referring to Pope John Paul II’s Message to the world on World Day of Peace 1990, Suzy recalled his reminder of the unity and order that exists between all of creation and the responsibility of humans to nurture this. She quoted from his Message for World Peace Day, “Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and tranquility.”
This is at the heart of CAFOD’s climate campaign.
We then had time alone with the Gospel for Mass of the following day, the First Sunday in Lent. Suzy invited us look through climate lenses at the three temptations of Jesus.
1. This Lent…let us take time to pray and to contemplate, to be in wonder and awe at the beauty that surrounds us.
2. This Lent…can we “fast”…from actions that pollute; embrace whatever inconveniences which may arise from running a “greener” household; decrease our use of fossil fuels and tithe time, treasure and talent to environmental causes. (Canadian Bishops)
3. This Lent…can we link with others who are working for sustainable development, serving the earth and all who inhabit this beautiful and precious planet.
The group discussion and sharing that followed was richly enhanced by hearing of the experiences of many of the participants who had missioned in some of Africa’s poorest areas.
After lunch Sarah gave us some sobering facts and figures. But she did not present them as a heavy list of statistics. We were given a multiple-choice questionnaire which was not only fun but also made it much easier to retain the facts. The statistics were challenging and they were an incentive to take action. Sarah brought to our notice some of the actions being taken by CAFOD in the run up to the general election in May. Chief among these was the request that we join them in asking UK party leaders to play their part. We were all happy to sign the ONE CLIMATE ONE WORLD cards, and hopefully most of us will attend the Lobbying day at Westminster on the 17 June. But the whole day also challenged us to continually find ways and means to be the neighbour that cannot but help, in however small a way, to reach out and try to make a difference to the lives and wellbeing of our hungry and thirsty, yet wonderful, courageous and amazing brothers and sisters in situations where we feel we would not survive.
CAFOD aims to have a lot of prepared buntings for their Lobbying day. Our group kick started this. Armed with paper, crayons and scissors we had another light yet serious activity as we entered into the spirit and created CAFOD buntings for the 17 June.
Suzy concluded the day with a beautiful reflection on St. Francis of Assisi, who was in his day a Protector of our fragile world.
“Care of the earth is not something God spoke of at the dawn of history; he entrusts it to each of us as part of his plan.” Pope Francis
Sr. Regina McGarry OP