Since moving to Minnesota, I have so enjoyed seeing the many lakes and rivers, prairies, forests and extensive farmland. I am reminded of the creation story from Genesis, where God creates the earth, the animals and plants. Each day when God creates something new, we hear the words, “And God saw that it was good.” What is clear in Genesis is that GoD Made us the stewards of his creation. —
Care for creation resonates with many in our diocese, especially as many of our faithful live on family farms. They live so very close to the earth and to farm animals. My own mother grew up on a farm in Idaho and I’ll never forget the delight I took in seeing cows, sheep, pigs and chickens, not to mention riding on a combine with my grandfather at harvest time.
Rural life keeps people living close to the earth, rooted in the soil and in close communion with all the animals that make up farm life. Sadly, however, it is getting harder for farmers to make a living on traditional farms. Farm equipment costs have skyrocketed and agribusiness makes it harder for smaller farms to remain viable. There seems to be an increase in stress, loneliness and even mental health issues on our farms.
When Pope Francis issued his second encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” I felt it was a helpful guide and reminder on the importance for the care we must give to creation. It helped me to understand that the core issue facing our planet is that we have lost our sense of connection to the earth because of a consumerist mentality. In the words of Pope Francis:
“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.”
I would urge you to dig into this rich text of Pope Francis when you have some free time this summer. In the meantime, there are a few simple ways that we can contribute to caring for the earth, our common home.
- We can recycle and compost to reduce landfill waste.
We can look at changes to cut down on the waste that
- We can conserve water by fixing leaks, watering our lawns less and taking shorter showers, and helping to preserve our beautiful bodies of water that surround us.
- Single-use plastic is one of the greatest threats to the environment. We can reduce the usage of plastic just by getting reusable shopping bags.
- We can recycle and participate in local clean-ups.
- We can make a contribution to the diocese to aid the
work of two Rural Life coordinators that we support through our collaboration with Catholic Charities.
May God help us to feel intimately united with all that exists as the stewards of his creation. At times, it may seem like what we are doing is simply like a drop in the ocean, but as St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “But if that drop were not there, the ocean would be less.”
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Patrick Neary, C.S.C., the 10th bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud
Anacostia River near Bladensburg, Maryland. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)