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May 05, 2010
Ecology and Faith
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

Catechesis has changed in the last few years. We now teach a broader spectrum of faith and how it applies in our everyday lives. This includes the holy cause of caring for the earth. This month, we offer a few thoughts on our call as Christian disciples to care for God’s creation.
Stewardship of Creation
A few years ago, I asked a group of fourth-graders to name the different types of sin. Their answer went a little further than I was expecting from them. The students said there are three kinds of sin: mortal, venial and social sin. Intrigued, I asked them to tell me more. It seems that these young people are being taught to recognize that depleting the earth, polluting the environment and neglecting to respect God’s gifts are profound sins against God, his creation and one another—forms of social sin.

In this context, we can bring the issue of stewardship of the environment to our classrooms, our families and any adult forum. These Spring days present a perfect time for a recycling project, a clean-up-the-parish-property event and even a checklist for promoting good environmental behavior. We can add an intercession to Sunday Mass, pray for the earth and give our students some ecology homework in the month of May. Ecology is a holy cause.
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Making a Change for Good
Small-faith groups and adult-discussion groups are wonderful places to encourage a change of lifestyle. When adults process in a group, tell their own stories and agree together on a response to what they’ve read, good things happen.

As we look at changing our ecological habits, I recommend a fine book for discussion: Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth by Ilia Delio, O.S.F., Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M., and Pamela Wood. This award-winning book lays out a foundation for including care for creation in our spiritual plan. Francis’ love for creation is the backdrop for a solid explanation of the spirituality of the care of our earth. This book is a tool for changing your habits and the habits of those with whom you are willing to share it.
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Online Resources About Faith, Ecology and St. Francis

For people of faith, every day should be Earth Day. Our Creator has entrusted us with the resources the earth provides. We are called to be good stewards of these resources.

Explore an "Earth Day Feature" on the Web site sponsored by the Franciscans and St. Anthony Messenger Press. There you’ll find several resources that can be used with teens and adults:

  • Send a free e-greeting about caring for the earth (most are not limited to Earth Day).

  • Preview the text of “Why Catholics Care for Creation” by Sr. Joan Brown, O.S.F., (Catholic Update) before placing an order.

  • Order the book, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth by Ilia Delio, O.S.F., Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M., and Pamela Wood.

  • Preview the text of “Was Jesus a Tree Hugger? Ecology and Faith” (Every Day Catholic) before ordering it for parish-wide distribution or use in small groups. (A free leader’s guide is available online at

  • Read articles from a special edition of St. Anthony Messenger magazine that explores St. Francis of Assisi and his ties to faith and ecology.

Use these online resources to spread the important message that how we care for the earth is a reflection of our faith in and relationship with God our Creator. Care for creation is our responsibility as citizens of the world and as followers of Christ. Make sure your parishioners make this important connection!

Franciscan Radio
Building up the Body of Christ
Two new books offer hope for Church renewal and heroes in unlikely places. Both offer the same challenge to the reader: What are you doing to build up the Body of Christ?

NEW! Rebuild My Church: God’s Plan for Authentic Catholic Renewal by Alan Schreck, Ph.D.

“How can we—as St. Francis and so many of the saints have done—hear and obey God’s call to ‘Rebuild My Church’?” —From Chapter Seven

Authentic renewal of the Church isn’t an issue for the hierarchy alone. Church renewal depends on every Catholic, including youyour personal growth in holiness, your readiness to use the gifts God has given you, your willingness to learn how to discern and support authentic renewal.

NEW! Unlikely Spiritual Heroes by Brennan Hill

In his third Heroes volume, Brennan Hill profiles eight improbable candidates for the great things they did. These unlikely heroes saw great injustice, sorrow and violence in the world and, in their own ways—some small, some universal—sought and created love, justice, peace and hope for our time. View the table of contents or see a sample chapter here.
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