November 1, 2017

Stewards of Creation—Caring for Our Common Home


Our Common Home cover

 

In Psalm 24:1, King David says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it.” Since the earth is of God, we know it is good, and as God’s people it becomes part of our mission to love, tend, care and preserve our mother earth with the same Gospel values that we apply to feeding the hungry and caring for the sick. We are called to be united in this task, and that call has been expounded on by our Holy Father in his recent encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.

The need to be stewards of creation in today’s world

The other day, I was especially aware of our duty to care for our common home as there were a number of events in my local news as well as both our national and world news that shone a large spotlight on this need.

I awoke that morning to an onslaught of images on the news—devastation from the recent hurricanes, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea and news that our local freeway had been closed after a pedestrian had been struck and killed.

The images of all the devastation in Houston, the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and Mexico reminded me that sometimes nature has a way of showing us how powerful she is and how little control we have in life.

Shortly after, hearing the president speak of destroying North Korea if they continue to be aggressive sent a chill down my spine. I couldn’t help but think that North Korea is part of our world, part of God’s creation, part of our common home. How are we even talking about this when there is no winner in that kind of destruction of the earth and the things living in it?

As we carpooled into work that day, in hopes of circumventing some of the bad traffic due to the freeway being closed, my wife and I noted how many hundreds of cars were stopped bumper to bumper for miles. I couldn’t help but think of all the pollution this was causing and I wondered for a moment if there was a way to encourage more people to ride together so they could not only interact as humans but have less of a negative impact on the air we all breathe.

I share my slice of life simply because in the span of a few hours, I had thought multiple times about the earth and its climate and the impact that humans have on it. I felt a range of emotions, from small and powerless, to feeling like part of the problem, to hoping to become part of the solution.

Understanding our role to care for the earth

However we live today, there is no escaping the fact that we all need to come together, see the earth as our common home and begin to take a serious look at how we can better care for it. It’s important to always be aware of how fragile the earth is and how much damage we can cause by our indifference.

Pope Francis’ aforementioned Laudato Si’ encyclical talks about our role in caring for the environment—our common home. Topics of consumerism, irresponsible development, erosion of the precious resources within our planet and even global warming give us a sobering yet hopeful wake-up call that invites us to become aware, responsible, caring, empathetic, loving and compassionate ambassadors toward the earth and all God’s creatures.

Music that highlights the importance of the destiny of creation

Inspired by Laudato Si’, OCP’s music project Our Common Home: Songs for Liturgy & Prayer comes to mind as a wonderful tool to help remind us of these important topics as we go about our days. Each song, in its own way, deals with our responsibility to be good stewards of creation.

We are learning that the responsibility to care for our common home is not only for those who protest to governmental leaders or those who are advocates for the environment. This is our mission as God’s children, and only together will we succeed in preserving the earth as the lovely home that it is; one that belongs to all of us. The words from Fr. Michael Joncas’ song “God of Might and God of Mercy” resonated in my heart:

Make us stewards of creation,
not to ravage and destroy,
but to shape a habitation
generations will enjoy.

This collection of songs has a variety of styles but the same general message of how beautiful the earth that our God created is, how we need to become more aware of its treasures and how we can care for them in the best way possible.

Suggestions for using these songs in the liturgy

My suggestion is to listen to all the songs on the collection and choose two that you believe are accessible to your ministers of music and your assembly and use them as songs for post-Communion or recessional. Try to use the same hymns for a few months so that your community can really learn and own them. Singing these words of love and care and peace will plant a seed about how all that God has created deserves honor and care. Each of us can become a good steward of the earth and all creatures living in it. What we need are loving reminders, and this collection of songs fills that need beautifully.

If you labor in the field of Campus Ministry or if you are a retreat leader, please consider choosing a song or two from this collection to use in your talks or discussions. It is important for young people to hear that we are all praying for the earth and that we are investing time and incorporating Gospel values into the way we live. The care for our earth is in the hands of every member of the community, and it’s crucial that the youth participate in the action.

Sing these songs as prayers of hope and as poems of praise for our God who has created everything in our universe. Sing these songs as whispers that gently remind us that we need to be mindful of what we do because everything has an effect on the environment. Sing these songs as cries of the Gospel which bring God’s love, mercy and compassion to every living creature in this world, giving it honor, gratitude and esteem. As Brother Rufino Zaragoza sings in his song “Sacred Creation”:

Sacred the land, sacred the water
Sacred the sky, holy and true.
Sacred all life, sacred each other,
All reflect God who is good.

Amen.

Read more blogs like this

Incorporating “Laudato Si’” in Lord’s Day Eucharist by Michael Joncas

“Laudato Si’” and the Songs of Our Common Home by Ken Canedo

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Jaime Cortez

Jaime Cortez

Born in New York and raised in El Salvador, Jaime Cortez is fluent in Spanish and has dedicated a portion of his ministry to promoting better Hispanic liturgies and bringing cultures together for worship.

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