Second Day of Climate Change Novena

Earth Day, April 22 2017


Access a copy of the Blue Marble Photo.  You may either use the link for the Blue Marble photo of Earth on the following page, or copy the image provided with it.  Print a copy of the photo.

Hold the photo lovingly and gently in your hands.  Sit quiet for ten minutes and simply gaze upon the image.  Allow whatever arises in you to come to the surface and then let it float away like a passing cloud.

At the end of the time prayerfully read aloud the following poem by Pattiann Rogers

The Significance of Location

The cat has the chance to make the sunlight
Beautiful, to stop it and turn it immediately into black fur and motion, to take it
As shifting branch and brown feather
Into the back of the brain forever.

The cardinal has flown the sun in red
Through the oak forest to the lawn.
The finch as caught it in yellow
And taken it among the thorns. By the spider
It has been bound tightly and tied in an eight-stringed knot.

The sun has been intercepted in its one
Basic state and changed to a million varieties of green stick and tassel. It has been broken into pieces by glass rings, by mist
Over the river. Its heat
Has been given the board fence for body,
The desert rock for fact.  On winter hills
It has been laid down in white like a martyr.

This afternoon we could spread gold scarves
Clear across the field and say in truth,
‘sun you are silk.’

Imagine the sun totally isolated,
Its brightness shot in continuous streaks straight out
Into the back, never arrested,
Never once been made light.

Someone shout take note
Of how the Earth has saved the sun from oblivion.

                          Firekeeper:  New and Selected Poems (Minneapolis:  Milkweed, 1994), p.38

Pray in thanksgiving silently for a few minutes for the self-communication of God that is Earth.

Study:  Go to:  Carefully read through the material pertaining to the campaign “A Billion Acts of Green.”  Click on one, some or all of the six action suggestions for a complete explanation of each.  As you study the material, try to be in touch with where exactly you feel most drawn to act.  Pause when you finish reading through the material.  To what are you ready to commit?    How can you integrate the surrounding rationale of this action into your life so that your lifestyle becomes more Earth-friendly?

Act:  Take a second look at the Blue Marble Photo; if you wish, re-read the poem; then take your action!

Blue Marble Photo

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Day of Climate Change Novena

First Vespers of Earth Day, April 21 2017


We pause and remember that the God Who created us and Who sustains us is never far from us. In God we live and move and have our being.

O God, Holy Spirit, Whose breath gives life to the world and Whose voice is heard in the soft breeze,
we need Your strength and wisdom.
Come to us and among us;

Come as the wind and cleanse us.
We join with Your Creation and with each other.

At the end of the time prayerfully sing or read aloud the following song by Edith Sinclair Downing

Great God, Your Vast Creation

Great God, your vast creation breaks forth in joyous praise.
The creatures with elation their eager voices raise.
We hear the vibrant chorus of frogs announcing spring.
The songbirds rise before us and soar on silent wing.
We hear the gentle lapping as ripples meet the shore,
and sound of waves’ loud crashing: the mighty ocean’s roar.

Yet, God, there is pollution of waters which were pure.
Our wills resist solutions; move us to find a cure.
We grieve the growing absence of creatures once held dear.
More mating calls are silenced—those sounds we thrilled to hear.
Teach us to humbly reverence all life beneath the sun.
Awake in us awareness our destinies are one.

You make us in your image; you give us endless worth.
Help us as we envisage the sacredness of earth.
We would reclaim the treasure of rainbows in clear skies,
and seek to save this pleasure for children’s wondering eyes.
As we face each tomorrow, we pray for strength to dare
to live as if each sparrow depends upon our care.

Tune: Thaxted, by Gustav Holt:

Contemplation:  Sit silently for five minutes and simply breathe in and out – aware of the gift of air that Earth provides to us so that we might live.

Study:  We have a rich tradition! Catholic Climate Covenant has vast resources for prayer and action. Go to: Choose one or several of the suggested teachings from Modern Voices, Pope Francis or previous popes, the bishops, Scripture, or the Church Mothers and Fathers.  As you read these materials thoughtfully and prayerfully, notice how this touches your heart.  What have you learned today from these teachings that you didn’t know before? What have you learned that you would like to share with others? What have you learned that may spur you to action?

  • Act: Sometime over the next nine days, take a hike in the woods, sit in a green space in the city, or visit a public garden – even your own yard or garden. Find some token of nature from your time outdoors to keep in your home as a tangible connection to Earth.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Common Home: Laudato Sí – Chapter 6: Ecological Education and Spirituality

Pope Francis puts before us “a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge.” It requires “an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging and of a future to be shared with everyone . . . It will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.”

~Towards a new lifestyle

  • Pope Francis challenges us to embark on new paths of authentic freedom, appealing to us to remember the dignity that is ours.
  • Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm leads people to believe they are free as long as they can consume.
  • A consumerist lifestyle, when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.
  • Today the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle.

~Educating for the covenant between humanity & the environment

  • An awareness of the gravity of the cultural and ecological crisis must be translated into new habits.
  • We are faced with an educational challenge for ourselves, our youth, and the entire human community, an education that seeks to establish harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and all living creatures. This educational effort is crucial to human survival.

~Ecological Conversion

  • “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.” For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion.
  • Such conversion rests in the conviction that God created the world, writing into it an order and a dynamism that human beings have no right to ignore.

~Joy and Peace

  • Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little, knowing how to limit some needs and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with Creation and with the Creatorwho lives among us and surrounds us.

~Civic and Political Love

  • Social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society.

Implications and Challenges

  • Pope Francis turns to the closing of the Earth Charter: “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. . . .Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.”
  • Pope Francis’ Prayer: “All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe. . . .Teach us to discover the worth of each being, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey toward your infinite light.”

Response – Reflect, Discuss, Pray, Act

Reflect: How can I encourage a “Culture of Care” in my community?

Action: Jot down one or two ways your own spirituality can or does motivate you to a more passionate concern for the protection of the world. What are those ways/concerns? Share your thoughts with another sister or friend.

Reflect: Looking back over the entire Encyclical, what were its most striking points for you? What two or three key thoughts or insights do you take away from this study?

Action: What action has this study led you to consider taking? Share this action, if you will, by sending it in to the Earth Committee by way of Sr. Colleen.

Action: Pray for ourselves that I/we will treat all Creation as Sacred!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Common Home: Laudato Sí – Chapter 5: Lines of Approach & Action

Pope Francis offers us a framework for dialogue and consensus building based upon a conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home.

Major paths of dialogue which can help us escape the spiral of self-destruction follow. Dialogue:

~In the international community

  • Positive experiences are characterized by a unanimity of goals, systems of reporting, standards and controls.
  • Failures are determined by a lack of political will when nations place their interests above the common good, andwhen there is a
  • Lack of suitable mechanismsfor oversight, periodic review and penalties for non-compliance.
  • Costs involved require developed countries to assistpoorer ones by contributing/funding appropriate technologies.
  • Enforceable international agreements are urgentlyneeded.
  • The plight of the poor and the plight of the planet flow from the same consumptive economic culture.

~For new national and local policies

  • Local individuals and groups can make a real difference in shaping environmental decisions because of a greater sense of responsibility for the immediateenvironment and a strong sense of community.
  • Results, even locally, take time, energy and commitment, as well as cultivating political will.
  • In the absence of pressure from the public, political authorities focus on short-term gains which dominate present day economics and politics. A healthy politics is sorely needed.

~With transparency for decision-making

  • Any given project, business proposal or policy must take into account in the beginning stages the environmental impact on planet and people.
  • The local population should have a special place at the table.
  • Decisions must be made based on the comparison of the risks and benefits foreseen for the various alternatives.

~Between politics and the economy

  • Efforts to promote a sustainableuse of natural resources are not a waste of money, but rather an investment capable of providing other economicbenefits.
  • A matter of redefining the notion of progress: Can a technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life be considered progress?
  • A strategy for real change calls for rethinking processes in their entirety. A healthy politics needs to be able to take up this challenge.

~Of religions with science

  • Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony.

Response – Reflect, Discuss, Pray, Act

  1. Francis speaks of the need for a global consensus for confronting problems. Discuss with others: Why is such a global consensusneeded? And how might such a consensus be achieved?(164)
  2. Identify the actions you can take on your local level to impact political decisions affecting your local community and the health of the environment. (179, 180)
  3. Take 10 minutes at your next house meeting to reflect and share your thoughts on the following sections of Chapter 5:
  • What is your response to articles (189-190?)
  • What role does profit play in a robust economy?
  • How does “profit at any cost” contribute to the degradation of the environment? (199-201)
Posted in climate change | Leave a comment

Our Common Home: Laudato Sí – Chapter 4: Integral Ecology

Pope Francis reminds us that:

  • When we speak of the “environment,” what we reallymean is the relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it.
  • It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions whichconsider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems.
  • Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.
  • When we speak of “sustainable use,” consideration must always be given to each ecosystem’s regenerative ability.
  • “Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment” – social ecologyextends to the whole of society. [142]
  • Ecology also involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense—that which is inherited from the past and that which is the living, dynamic and participatory present reality. Thisis cultural ecology. [143]
  • Authentic development includes efforts to bring about an integral improvement in the quality of life — addressing concerns of extreme poverty, exploitation of people and the environment, overcrowding in cities, lack of open space and lack of access to housing.
  • Human ecology implies another profound reality: therelationship between human life and the moral law; the ethical imperative to be in solidarity with the poorest of our brothers and sisters and the call to renew our efforts to work for the common good.
  • An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision, i.e. intergenerational solidarity and the needs of future generations.

Implications and Challenges

  • Challenges include the need for integrated urban planning that takes into account the quality of life for all inhabitants and that promotes the growth ofcommunity and the opportunity for a coherent and meaningful framework for their lives.
  • The lack of housing is a grave problem in many parts of the world, including Marin County.
  • The systems of transportation are often a source suffering bringing congestion, pollution and consumption of non-renewable resources.
  • An understanding of human ecology calls us to the necessity to create a more dignified environment for the common good.
  • The common good extends to this moment and to future generations.

Response – Reflect, Discuss, Pray, Act

  • Reflect on and discuss with your local community Pope Francis’ pointed questions:Consider you local area: is there anyone I see in my daily surroundings that is vulnerable and desperate. How might my/our actions be able tomake a difference?
    • What is the purpose of our life in this world?
    • Why are we here?
    • What is the goal of our work and all of our efforts?
  • Lack of affordable housing is impacting increasing numbers of people in our midst: our own lay employees, teachers in our schools, the elderly in our midst. What more might we do toeffect change through our advocacy and/or assistance?
Posted in climate change | Leave a comment

Our Common Home: Laudato Sí – Chapter 3: Technology, Creativity & Power

Pope Francis reminds us that:

  • Our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads.” [102]
  • “Technoscience, when well directed, can produce important means of improving the quality of human life.” [103]
  • Creativity and knowledge bring power and the potential for improving life or the risk of domination of the many by a few. [104]
  • “We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint.” [105]
  • The fundamental underpinnings of the technocratic paradigm—a technique of possession, mastery and transformation — move us unwittingly from a cooperative and relational paradigm to a paradigm of confrontation, extraction and domination.
  • In the face of such forces, human freedom and alternative forms of creativity that may be more inclusive are greatly diminished.
  • There is an urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. [114] There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. [118]
  • We cannot heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God.

Implications and Challenges

  • “A technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.” [136]
  • In the face of “super development” of a wasteful and consumerist kind, we fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures — the goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.
  • “’Contemporary man has not been trained to use power well,’ because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.” [105]
  • Work is an expression of human dignity and creativity. It is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfillment.

Response – Reflect, Discuss, Pray, Act

  • Pope Francis suggests we “opt for a nonconsumerist model of life, recreation and community.”Discuss: How as a community and as an individual can we do this?
  • Reflect: Do I perceive that my freedom has been compromised by the allure of technology?
  • “Once our human capacity for contemplation and reverence is impaired it becomes easy” to dismiss the value of every person’s potential contribution to the good of the whole.Prayerful reflection: How might I grow in affirming the dignity and value of those with whom I live and work?
  • “An authentic humanity, the desire to create and contemplate beauty, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door.” ReflectHow are we encouraging and supporting the response to beauty in ourselves and others?
Posted in climate change | Leave a comment

Our Common Home: Laudato Sí – Chapter 2: Our Present Reality

Pope Francis reminds us that:

  • Science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.” [62]
  • Christians are called to recognize our responsibility within creation; our duty toward nature and the Creator are an essential part of faith. [64]
  • The wisdom of biblical accounts details the intimate relationship between the Creator and Creation. Pope Francis rejects those interpretations that have been used to justify domination and/or exploitation of Creation and Earth’s inhabitants, while pointing to God’s consistent efforts to guide humanity to a renewed relationship with all of Creation.
  • Creation is an expanding reality, expressing the great creative energy of an unfolding universe.
  • The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. [83]
  • Jesus, in the fullness of his humanity, lived in harmony with all Creation.
  • Nature as a whole not only manifests God but is a locus of God’s presence in which everything is interconnected; creatures exist only in dependence on each other. [88]
  • Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. [91]
  • The Spirit of God has filled the universe with possibilities and therefore, from the very heart of things, something new can always emerge.

Implications and Challenges

  • The natural environment is a collective good, the inheritance of all humanity and the responsibility of every person.
  • 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.
  • It is inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking. [91]
  • The Christian tradition has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property.
  • Our challenge is to internalize Francis’ message and renew our hope that something new can emerge for the healing of our common home through the work of the Spirit.

Response – Reflect, Discuss, Pray, Act

Since all Dominicans are teachers, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to share some aspects of Laudato Si with those we know — friends, family and ministerial partners. You might:

  • Share something you’ve learned from the encyclical, noting what surprised you, disturbed you and raised moral and ethical insights.
  • Consider making the encyclical part of your Christmas giving.
  • Invite one or more persons into conversation about the Pope’s encyclical, the Paris 2015 conference opening on 11-30, or climate change and its current and long-term impacts for us all.
  • Use the enclosed prayer service individually, in your local community or with a group you convene.
Posted in climate change | Leave a comment