Reflection | “This is Our Home, Third from the Sun”

Jul 20, 2021

“This is our home, third from the sun. God, keep it evergreen. To keep it evergreen I would lay my life down.” Daniel Fogelberg sang these lyrics to Earth Anthem in 2003. Now, eighteen years later we are on the precipice of a climate emergency. Last week, I attended the webinar “Laudato Sì and the U.S. Catholic Church: Creighton University & Catholic Climate Covenant” to become informed how we, at St. Ignatius Loyola, can act as stewards of God’s creation.

 Presenters at the “Laudato Sì and the U.S. Catholic Church” conference, co-sponsored by Creighton University and the Catholic Climate Covenant, highlighted the seven goals set forth by Pope Francis. The seven goals, grounded in Laudato Sì’s concept of integral ecology, are response to the cry of the earth; response to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; adoption of simple lifestyles; ecological education; ecological spirituality; and emphasis on community involvement and participatory action.

Why should we take Laudato Sì and climate change seriously? It has been recorded that from 1980 until 2020, worldwide weather catastrophes have contributed to 5 million deaths every year. Drought, along with issues of violence and poverty, are forcing people to migrate from their homes in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Phillip Sakimoto, a former NASA employee and professor who teaches sustainability at the University of Notre Dame, explained, “we will have 200 million climate change refugees by the year 2050 unless we reduce the carbon footprint worldwide. Aggressive actions are needed now.”

The increase of extreme weather has plagued the United States in recent years with devastating wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. It is a fact: humankind has upset the natural balance of the earth. Carbon dioxide, which produces greenhouse gases, traps heat so it stays in the atmosphere. The more carbon dioxide in the environment, the greater warming of the atmosphere, the air, and the sea. Also, methane gas is being released from huge craters in Siberia due to the warming of the environment. The Muir Glacier in Alaska totally disappeared in 2005. Glaciers are melting in Canada, Antarctica—and all over the world—double the rate of 20 years ago. The effect of melting glaciers will affect coastal regions globally, and New York City will not escape the perils. These signs are wake-up calls to all of us. We don’t live in Siberia, Canada, or Alaska, but they are part of our global community and what is happening there will affect the rest of the planet.

Therefore, the time has come to appreciate the urgency of the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor so we can adopt a sustainable way of living. In turn, it is time to embark on ecological spirituality to see that everything is a gift from God and deserves reverence from humankind. The time requires us to participate both individually and collectively. To see God’s presence in all things, to understand that we are urgently called by Pope Francis and scientists to undertake daily actions of sustainability now to protect our fragile planet before the consequences cannot be reversed.

In the closing presentation, Franciscan sister, Ilia Delio reminds us, “We are clearly an earth in crisis, with a reversal necessary to sustain a sustainable future. God is inviting us to wake up, to get up, and to make something new together.”

For further information here are some websites:

St. Ignatius Loyola is a registered participant in the Laudato Sì Action Platform, Global Catholic Climate Movement, and the New York Metro Catholic Climate Movement. Stay tuned to our Newsletter for opportunities to learn and to participate.

If you are interested to become involved in environmental justice, please email [email protected].

— Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate for Ignatian Social Justice, Ignatian Young Adults and Family Ministry