Congratulations to Lichfield Cathedral on its award for caring for our home planet!
We’ll let them tell the story which follows naturally our short Franciscan season.
Lichfield Cathedral has been presented with its Silver Eco Church Award.
Lichfield Cathedral won the Bronze Award in 2021 and is working hard to achieve the Gold Eco Church Award.The Cathedral also received A Rocha UK’s Partner in Action Certificate in Environmental Excellence. This certificate acknowledges the Cathedral’s dedication to protecting and enhancing species and habitats, engaging the cathedral community in caring for the land, and developing a sustainable, low carbon approach to energy, food, and water use.
The Revd Canon Dr David Primrose said, “we are on a journey from Bronze to Gold. Tasks ahead include robust action plans to reduce our carbon footprint, and improved communications and engagement with others. There is a growing awareness of the connections between loss of biodiversity, the climate crisis, rising energy prices, and the cost of living.As a Healthy Healing Hub, we know the links between care for creation, the common good, and the wellbeing of those who are vulnerable.”
Today marks the Day of Prayer for Creation, the start of the Season of Creation, an ecumenical time of prayer. These intercessions were shared by CAFOD, the overseas development arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. They sum up themes for the season, which ends on St Francis’s Day, 4th October.
We pray for the Church: that she may be a beacon of hope throughout the world, reminding us all of our responsibility to care for and protect God’s precious gift of creation. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for the world, our common home: that through God’s grace we may hear its cry of the damage done and be moved to protect it for future generations to enjoy. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for those people who are already facing droughts, floods and storms: that God may grant them strength and hope for the future as they work to adapt to the changing climate. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for our parish and our local community: that through the grace of God we may hear the urgent cry of the earth and of the poor and be inspired to respond at this crucial time. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for the world we live in: that God may open our eyes to recognise the goodness of all creation and help us to do what we can to restore and care for the wonderful gift that we have been given. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for world leaders: that God may grant them wisdom to make just decisions which respect the earth and all that lives in it, especially those who are poorest and most vulnerable. Lord, in your mercy…
We pray for our local community: that through God’s grace we may be good neighbours to each other and to the whole of creation, restoring and caring for all that God has made. Lord, in your mercy…
I mean followers of fashion. Come to think of it, the last time I picked out the perfect outfit was the morning of my daughter’s wedding, and, let’s be fair, my outfit was chosen by the influencers in my life, that’s to say, the women in my life. Am I alone in this? Well, Natasha from Canterbury has found a research article that warns against fast fashion and explains why it’s bad for the planet. Click on the link, then the link at the top of the window that appears.
Who doesn’t love to keep up with the latest fashion trends? We love to express our personality, moods and ideals through the clothes we wear everyday. And why not? It’s rather fun picking out the perfect outfit every morning (I do it all the time!)But did you know that picking the right brands and materials is really important. Fast fashion clothes, that are inexpensive and mass produced to keep up with the trends, are actually one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases being released into the environment.Read more about the details of this in the article The Global Glut of Clothing Is an Environmental Crisis. Natasha Viegas
As the Kinks once sang:
He flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly
In matters of the cloth, he is as fickle as can be
'Cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion
Let us pray not to be fickle, but considered, in our choices of clothing.
If we are to succeed in combatting climate change it will be by taking action based on scientific reflection. Often the research papers are inaccessible in libraries that can pay for journal subscriptions. Something is being done about that. Read on.
The Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall, Oxford (LSRI) and Knowledge Unlatched (KU) have joined forces to make 11 titles from the field of Integral Ecology Open Access (OA) – freely accessible.
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of a united, global response to the current ecological crisis. Dialogue and learning on integral ecology, however, is often hindered by limited access to the academic publications on the subject, which are not affordable for many individuals and institutions in lower-income countries. The Laudato Si’ Integral Ecology Collection was developed to address this problem by making OA a selection of key texts on integral ecology. The collection will provide a valuable resource for lay readers, students, and those undertaking more advanced academic study. Publications in the collection could also be read as part of a reading group or an online course.
The titles will be made available OA to users all over the world after the official launch of the Collection on Thursday, 3 March, 2022. The books will be hosted in a special module on the Open Research Library.
“I am thrilled to be launching this pioneering OA library of books on integral ecology, which will reach people globally, whether one is a university student in the Philippines, a layperson engaged in environmental action in the UK, or a college teacher in Kenya,” said Séverine Deneulin, Director of International Development at LSRI, adding: “We hope that the Laudato Si’ Integral Ecology Collection will not only contribute to narrowing the knowledge gap between different regions of the world but also equip people globally to better respond to the cries of the earth and of the poor.”
“We are delighted to work with the LSRI team on making this collection of important content freely available thanks to the KU Reverse model,” said Philipp Hess, KU’s Manager of Publisher Relations. “We are also very grateful to the co-funding institutions that have helped to make this possible.”
Waters above! eternal springs!
The dew that silvers the Dove's wings!
O welcome, welcome to the sad!
Give dry dust drink; drink that makes glad!
Many fair ev'nings, many flow'rs
Sweeten'd with rich and gentle showers,
Have I enjoy'd, and down have run
Many a fine and shining sun;
But never, till this happy hour,
Was blest with such an evening-shower!
From "Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Volume II.
This was not an April shower, but a March one; a morning but not an evening shower yet I'm sure Henry Vaughan would have appreciated it, as I did, seeing the raindrops on the willows shining on the osiers. Laudato Si'!
Here in Canterbury I spotted roller skaters picking litter from the edges of a disused car park, and thanks go to them for that. But the land used to be allotment gardens, and was allowed to go wild for decades before being covered in asphalt.
In New York State (and elsewhere in the USA) various congregations of sisters are finding themselves with more land than they need, land that would make good car parks (parking lots) for tourists visiting the Hudson River Valley. As the sisters are growing older and fewer, the time to leave these properties is growing nearer. What are they going to do to keep their precious green spaces to allow the earth and local people room to breathe?
This link is to four articles in EarthBeat about the sisters’ responses to the challenge of climate change and habitat destruction in the light of Laudato’ Si, Pope Francis’s letter on caring for Creation. Each one is well worth reading, and even if lessons are not directly applicable outside the US, we could all look around and ask ourselves what we as individuals and communities might do next in love for our common home.
Redwing blackbirds are among the birds and other animals that make their home in the restored prairie belonging to Franciscan Sisters in Iowa. (EarthBeat photo/Brian Roewe)
More wisdom on Creation and our part in it, as distilled by Pope Francis
86. We understand better the importance and meaning of each creature if we contemplate it within the entirety of God’s plan. As the Catechism teaches: “God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.”
87. When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them. This sentiment finds magnificent expression in the hymn of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom you give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of you, Most High.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through whom you give sustenance to your creatures.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong”.
51. Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialised north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining.
The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home. Generally, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable”.
52. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse. As the United States bishops have said, greater attention must be given to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”. We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalisation of indifference.
In this section Pope Francis looks to Saint Francis of Assisi as an example to follow.
I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast.
He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.
11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”. His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.
12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wisdom 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.
Of course, the temptation is never far away to see the world as a problem to be solved. It is perhaps then that we need to stop thinking and start singing! We must refuse to turn the world about us into an object to be used and controlled for short term gain. Creatures are our sisters and brothers.
At Trotton Place lived Arthur Edward Knox, whose Ornithological Rambles in Sussex, published in 1849, is one of the few books worthy to stand beside White’s Natural History of Selborne.+ In Sussex, as elsewhere, the fowler* has prevailed, and although rare birds are still occasionally to be seen, they now visit the country only by accident, and leave it as soon as may be, thankful to have a whole skin.
Guns were active enough in Knox’s time, but to read his book to-day is to be translated to a new land:
“I have the satisfaction of exercising the rites of hospitality towards a pair of barn owls, which have for some time taken up their quarters in one of the attic roofs of the ancient, ivy-covered house in which I reside. I delight in listening to the prolonged snoring of the young when I ascend the old oak stairs to the neighbourhood of their nursery, and in hearing the shriek of the parent birds on the calm summer nights as they pass to and fro near my window; for it assures me that they are still safe; and as I know that at least a qualified protection is afforded them elsewhere, and that even their arch-enemy the gamekeeper is beginning reluctantly, but gradually, to acquiesce in the general belief of their innocence and utility, I cannot help indulging the hope that this bird will eventually meet with that general encouragement and protection to which its eminent services so richly entitle it.”
There is a benevolently naive verbosity about some writers of Edwardian times, as we British count the XX Century before the Great War. This passage is from “Highways and Byways in Sussex” by E. V. Lucas, 1904, but of course the story from Knox is older still. I hope both men would appreciate today’s general good will and legal protection towards birds and the scientific study of them, but they both could tell us something of what has been lost in the years since then; although most birds are now legally protected, we should be less complacent; where are the cuckoos, martins and swallows we expected to see and hear thirty, even twenty years ago?
+ See White on Worms, 20 May, and search elsewhere in the blog.
* Fowler: someone who hunts and shoots birds (even rare ones).