Last year I reflected on the intersection of Earth Day and Sunday. I noted how fitting it was
to focus on our life-giving ecosystems on the day when Christians celebrate the
victory of love and life over sin and death.
But what significance is there for
celebrating Earth Day on a Monday? Quite a bit.
While many Earth Day events were held
this weekend and while many of us will be keeping Earth Day somewhat in mind
today, it is nevertheless the reality that today is, well, Monday. And Monday’s
are often the day we return to work and to the busy routines of the week.
But if we are to truly make every day
Earth Dayif we are, as Benedict XVI had once said, to change our “inner attitudes” to be better users and tenders of God’s
creationthen what we do on Mondays, Tuesdays, and so on is just as important
as those moments on transcendence during Earth Day cleanups, rallies, and tree
My friend Robert Baxter wrote a great
little book, “The Sunday/Monday Paradox.” He has spent many years in the
corporate business world. His book applies his experiences and observations
about the way we work with the message of the Gospel. It turns out that those
who live by the Gospel and maintain a graced, sacramental relationship with God
are often better, team-oriented workers that make organizations excel. It also
turns out that many of us keep the lessons and grace of our Sunday sacramental
worship confined to that day.
In seeing Monday and the rest of the
work week as offering their own encounters with Godand in acknowledging what
that requires of uswe become disciples of Christ even when we’re not in
Church. And that simple rethinking of our lives can change businesses and the
“The deterioration of nature is in fact
closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence,” wrote
Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate. He went on that “when ‘human
respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as
human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at
risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both
the health of society and its good relationship with nature."
The pontiff continued with these
essential thoughts (with all emphasis original):
In order to protect
nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents;
not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps,
but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If
there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if
human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are
sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of
human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is
contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment
when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves.
The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment
but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word,
integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to
our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to
others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the
other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today:
one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.
And so the challenge before us in the
matter of ecological protection is the same we hold in all matters of morality
and faith: giving our entire lives to Christ and living His truths every day.
This is not some simple platitude that sounds fitting for an Earth Day blog
postingit is a necessary reality if we are to slow the present and rapid
global ecological decline.
The work of ecologists, then, is first
the changing of hearts. Our task is the offering of Christ into the everyday.
It is the reorientation of the human heart toward a culture of temperance,
peace, and life rather than of consumption and conflictwhich both slowly kill
the world, one soul and one ecosystem at a time.
May our Earth Day Monday make us
mindful of this truth: that only in rooting our everyday decisions in Christ
will we see the elevation of who we are and what we do. After all, it is He who
takes away the sins of the world. All we need do is keep Him close by every day
and hour of the week.
This post originally appeared at Catholic