Catechetical Spot

“Expanding our thoughts about Lent”

On February 26, many of us gathered either at St. Mark’s or other places of worship to be marked by ashes on the forehead in the shape of a cross. We responded with an “Amen” to either the words, “Turn away from sin and follow the Gospel” or “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return.” We are challenged to remember our mortality. Remembering that we will return to the earth when we come to the end of our life as we know it and pass into a new reality in fullness with God gives us pause to think. We have these forty days to contemplate our discipleship and through prayer, fasting and almsgiving grow deeper in our friendship with God through his son, Jesus Christ in unity with the Holy Spirit.

Our relationship with the earth is pointed out to us clearly in the first reading on the First Sunday of Lent. We hear from the book of Genesis the words, “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man (human) became a living being.” We are part of the earth. That we will return to the earth is not surprising.

If we are so closely related to the earth, why have we grown so far from our care for it? In 2015, Pope Francis wrote an encyclical letter; On Care For Our Common Home, Laudato Si, (Praise be to you, my Lord) In this letter Pope Francis addressed what is probably the primary challenge confronting the world, that of Global Warming. The Lenten Season is our time to examine how we have sinned. Do we even think that we have sinned regarding our relationship with the earth?

Pope Francis in his letter tells us, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. …Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat the warming or at least the causes which produce or aggravate it.” (No. 23)

Let us devote some of our Lenten time to questions we might ask ourselves regarding our sins against the earth. What are our attitudes toward recycling, waste of food, reduction of water use and electricity, composting, use of gas and dependence on our cars, use of paper and plastic products and the planting of trees? Lent is more than an individual commitment. It is a communal commitment to the earth of which we are a part. We are people of the clay, people of the earth carrying within the divine life of God. It is our responsibility to care for the earth.

~by Helen Ackermann