A. Context in preparation for the day: the current situation .
The world in which we live is not the paradise we would like it to be. Most of today’s problems with the environment are man-made.
1. Continued pressure on natural resources
2. Increasing deterioration of the environment due to inappropriate agricultural practices and the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources
3. Marked differences between the incomes of the rich and the poor
4. Lack of access to basic services, such as education, health, and others
5. Rapid urbanisation generating large numbers of poor and homeless people in cities
6. Increasing consumerism inside an economic model which does not take account of the costs of ecological deterioration, among others costs
The ecological crisis threatens the livelihoods of everyone, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable: they live in increasing fragile circumstances, characterised above all by the natural disasters, climate change, pollution, deforestation, desertification and land degradation… The link between the environment and poverty is inescapable; this is our challenge.
B. Key phrase: “Nature expresses a design of love and truth. It is prior to us, and it has been given to us by God as the setting for our life. Nature speaks to us of the Creator (cf. Rom 1:20) and his love for humanity.” (Caritas In Veritate n.48)
C. Core text for pastoral reflection:
“Today the subject of development is also closely related to the duties arising from our relationship to the natural environment. The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations, and towards humanity as a whole… Nature is at our disposal not as ‘a heap of scattered refuse’ (cf Gen 2:15), but as a gift of the Creator who has given it an inbuilt order, enabling man to draw from it the principles needed in order ‘to till it and keep it’ (Gen 2:15). Consequently, projects for integral human development cannot ignore coming generations, but need to be marked by solidarity and inter-generational justice… The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its lifestyle.” (CIV n.48 and 51)
D. Reflection guide
- What examples of this violation of creation do we see in our context and what impact does it have on the most vulnerable?
- How are we directly affected by this situation?
- What hurts and moves us most about this reality?
E. Closing prayer: All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure. All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night. How beautiful is he, how cheerful! Full of power and strength. The second death can do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks and serve him with great humility. (St Francis of Assisi)
F. Support material: The Story of Stuff
 Taken from “Healing a broken world” Special Report on Ecology. Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Society of Jesus, Rome, 2011.