PRAYING WITH THE CHURCH

9/8/2021 11:05:51 AM
September 2021

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INTENTION :  We pray that we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.

Let us begin with our parishes.

Ten ways to green your parish

Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' calls on all people and communities to care for our common home by taking action. "The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now." (LS 161)

Parishes throughout the world are in a unique position to lead the way. There are more than 220,000 parishes across the globe. Most have multiple buildings and vehicles that contribute directly to the ecological crisis and climate emergency by using conventional fossil fuels for energy.

But many parishes around the world have found a way to operate their soul-saving businesses differently. They've switched to renewable energies, such as solar, wind, or geothermal, or made other life-giving changes.

Those changes have been better for our common home and better for the parishes' pocketbooks, as many have saved money by making such adjustments.

Here are ten inspiring steps parishes worldwide have already taken to care for creation and make their parish more sustainable.

1. Form a creation care team

Forming a creation care team, also known as a green team, can be a great way to incorporate caring for creation and working against the climate crisis into the everyday work of the parish.

It is good to identify environmental issues of concern in the parish, such as the climate crisis, droughts, environmental justice, or parish energy use

2. Eliminate energy waste

Perhaps the least expensive form of energy savings is our actions, such as turning off a light when leaving a room. It costs nothing.

Instead, what is required is to turn things down or off when they are not being used. Energy savings of as much as 10 per cent can be achieved simply through conscious and continuous efforts to use less energy.

3. Monitor your energy usage

The greatest energy savings benefits are achieved through directly monitoring energy use and reporting it transparently to the parish at large.

Energy use at parishes typically includes direct combustion of fuel for transportation; and electricity for lighting, refrigeration, communications, computers, and other electrical appliances.

These two types of energy use are usually easy to monitor because the cost of energy has to be paid monthly.

4. 'Lock in' energy savings step by step

It can be a challenge to help conserve energy, but low-cost devices, such as programmable thermostats and light and motion sensors, can help.

5. Commit to divesting from fossil fuels

For years, Catholic institutions, including parishes, dioceses, archdioceses, and religious orders, have made the prophetic decision to divest from fossil fuels.

In June 2020, the Vatican fully endorsed the decision to divest through its first-ever set of comprehensive environmental guidelines. The guidelines frame is investing in fossil fuels as an ethical choice, on par with other significant ethical choices.

The guidelines suggest that Catholic institutions' ethical commitments should lead to "taking care not to support companies that harm human or social ecology (for example, through abortion or the arms trade) or environmental ecology (for example, through the use of fossil fuels)."

Pope Francis also has strongly spoken out about the need to transition away from fossil fuels and for Catholic institutions to lead the way.

6. Transition to renewable energy

In the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, countries agreed that the transition away from fossil fuels should be nearly complete by 2050.

Hundreds of parishes and religious communities have already led the way by installing solar panels or relying more on wind or geothermal energy.

There has never been a better time to make the switch. Past economic barriers to renewable energy sources, such as higher costs to solar panels, have all but diminished as the price of solar has dropped drastically.

7. Inspire parishioners through dialogue

Laudato Si' creates a marvellous opportunity to start or continue conversations about caring for God's creation in parishes.

There are numerous ways parishes can help Catholics better understand Laudato Si', which reminds us that "everything is connected" and places millennia of Catholic teaching in the context of today's ecological crisis and climate emergency.

Among the ways:

  • how we interpret the Scriptures,
  • Celebrate creation through special liturgies, devotions, prayer services
  • Educate members on the themes of Laudato Si'
  • Promote lifestyle choices that are respectful of creation and compatible with a stable global climate
  • Work towards social and environmental justice in solidarity with the poor
  • Foster personal conversion and holiness, primarily through the virtues of temperance and prudence

8. Empower parishioners to take action

Thousands of parishioners around the world are leading the way in their churches. The parishioners on six continents have become Laudato Si' Animators, champions for Catholic action on climate change.

Passionate people from six continents come together during the course to learn about the root causes of the climate crisis and the core tenets of Laudato Si'. To finish the programme, they take action in their communities with a final project.

The air sensor not only informs parishioners of air pollution in the area; it also serves as a visible reminder that the Catholic Church views air pollution as a real problem affecting everyone's health and that it's something that needs to be solved.

9. Help spur ecological conversions

In Laudato Si', Pope Francis states the need for all of us to undergo an ecological conversion "whereby the effects of [our] encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in [our] relationship with the world around [us]." (LS 217)

As parishes and their leaders have done for centuries, they can help Catholics more deeply connect with our Creator through special liturgies and homilies, devotions such as Holy Hours and the Rosary, music and artwork, and a plethora of other ways, all of them held with the intention of helping parishioners understand the need to care for God's creation.

"This COVID-19 pandemic is allowing us to really look through and reflect on a lot of preconceptions that we are carrying, and that's [where] we're trying to lead our brothers and sisters, to that sense of ecological conversion."

10. Engage in faith-based advocacy

Laudato Si' calls for public pressure to bring about decisive political action by embracing these concepts:

  • urgent need for a drastic reduction in green-house gas emissions
  • need for enforceable international agreements
  • greater responsibilities of high-emitting industrialised nations to provide solutions to the problems they have caused

Parishes are also encouraged to take part in local efforts that work against the ongoing climate crisis.

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二零二一年 九月  第三百五十八期

和平 之聲        嘉理陵神父

願我們勇敢地選擇簡樸、環保及永續的生活方式,並為年輕人決心投身於這種生活而歡欣。

宗方濟各在《願祢受讚頌》通諭中,為環保發聲,無可避免地遭到了評擊。人們說他只是一名宗教領袖,不是科學家,無資格就氣候變化發言。然而,賴上主恩佑,真理終於戰勝無知與偏見。今時今日,有少少腦筋的人,都會認同教宗所說的:氣候人人共享,關乎公益

月的祈禱意向,加上教宗再作的言論,展示了他關注環保及相關的氣候變化議題,並非一時之興,而是視之為嚴肅的責任,需要人時刻保持警覺,並作出積極大膽的回應。

禱意向包含的其他元素,讓我們看到教宗還有其他的關注:他渴望有一個為窮人服務的貧窮教會。若果認為這渴求純屬教會之事,就完全欠去了重點。全人類都必須關心在我們當中的窮人,因為他們很多都首當其衝,承受著氣候變化帶來的凶險。呼籲人選擇簡樸、環保及永續的生活方式,與渴望有一個貧窮的教會,同出一轍。教宗方濟各一向重視年輕人的身心靈健康,現眼見年輕人投身關注氣候變化的行動,令他歡欣踴躍,並願與眾人分享這份喜樂與承擔。

二零二一年 九月《和平》

閱讀聖

閱讀聖經的其中一個基本原則就是要意識到聖經內有不同的寫作文體。這原則要求我們必需按著聖經章節所屬的文體去閱讀和理解。在論述《聖詠集》時,聖安博(Saint Ambrose)認真思考了聖經所包含的不同風格和材料,提出以下的指導方針︰「歷史指導,法律鍛煉,先知預言,更正顯示過錯,道德規範提議該做甚麼,但《聖詠集》所包含的,比上述的還要多,同時又是人靈健康的妙藥。」無論甚麼文體,都離不開這個事實︰凡聖經所載的,都是信仰文件,而非「新聞報導」。由此引申一個警告:在引用聖經時,我們需要非常小心,不可斷章取義,不可把任何聖經章節只當作「新聞報導」去理解。明顯地,當天主創造天地時,沒有「記者」在場。所以,創世紀頭幾章,不是在「報導」天主一連六天所做的事,而是對創世的神學反省。今時今日,很多人已經明白到這一點,但總有人仍在嘗試堅持,應該按字面去理解天主在六天的創造(雖然未必用這些字眼去表達)。創世紀的頭幾章,其實是信仰陳述,旨在表達一些有關世界的意思︰令人驚歎的美麗秩序、宏偉布置、豪華點綴,夾雜著令人惶恐的混沌和邪惡

大約在五十年前,我讀過一位神學家的著作,作者反省了科學與宗教對創世的理解所經歷了的演變:從前,宗教傾向強調秩序和創造者的智慧,卻為混沌尋找理由。時至作者執筆撰寫他的作品時,他建議:儘管科學家們偏愛科學秩序,解釋卻愈來愈強調創世的混亂,也許,混亂不是甚麼「缺陷」,而是創造的固有部分。

耶穌會士
嘉理陵神父

theology.org.hk

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