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In creating mankind, God had clothed us in glory and given us a utopic place to live in—habitable land, life-giving waters, fruit-bearing trees, and animals that share our common home—a place of encounter and sharing. Everything is offered to us as a gift and God’s gaze rests lovingly on us (cf. Gen 1:25).
However, we have not been faithful stewards of the gifts that have been entrusted to us. Some have become anthropocentric, justifying our complete and absolute dominion over nature and our own bodies, subordinating everything else to us. Others profess a self-sufficient freedom that is without limits, direction, or measure, paving the way to an irresponsible, greedy, and insatiable desire to possess and exploit, developing ourselves in a manner that is heavily hinged on consumerism. We have abandoned our innate deific image and identity (cf. Gen 1:27), although we were created to be stewards of creation (cf. Gen 1:28) to dwell in kinship, harmony, accountability, and responsibility towards others in our one and only shared common home.
Creation is losing its serenity and is deteriorating rapidly in recent times. Today, we hear of pollution, continued use of fossil fuels, agricultural exploitation and deforestation, global temperature rises, increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, desertification of the soil, melting of glaciers, scarcity of water, neglect of water basins, considerable presence of plastics and microplastics in the oceans, and many other events.
We have singlehandedly created a climate emergency that is setting us on the path towards self-destruction—gravely threatening nature and our own life itself.
What can we do amidst the turmoil of these turbulent times? Let us consider two points from Pope Francis’s recent Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
Reflect on our lifestyles: Our daily decisions, such as food consumption, transportation, use of water, energy, and material goods, can often be thoughtless and harmful. What are the areas in our lives where we can try to change and improve?
In Singapore, can we do more to reorient our pragmatic attitude to one that supports integral development, promotes an integral ecology and rebuilds our common home? (cf. Laudato Si, 13)
Pray: Let our prayer lead us to an increased awareness and closeness to the creation. In his writings, Saint Bonaventure proposed that creation is the first “book” that God opens before our eyes, so that having been amazed at its order, variety, and beauty, we can come to love and praise its Creator (cf. Breviloquium, II, 5, 11). Then, every creature becomes for us “a word of God” (cf. Commentarius in Librum Ecclesiastes, I, 2).
For a start, we can consider this Novena to Saint Francis for a world under threat: https://cafod.org.uk/Pray/Prayer-resources/Novena-to-St-Francis
- Week-long climate action programme under way, aims to build awareness on ‘existential challenge’ for Singapore (Channel News Asia, 15 Aug 2020)
- COVID-19 has prompted stimulus measures, but Southeast Asian governments may be missing the chance to go green: Experts (Channel News Asia, 28 Aug 2020)
- Cycling great for going green but is still a pain in urban Singapore (Channel News Asia, 28 Aug 2020)
Jacob Soo is the Formation and Membership Executive at Caritas Singapore, and serves at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. He finds joy in strong cups of black coffee, Catholic spirituality books, and conversations on the faith.