CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Protecting this precious earth

In response to Pope Francis designating September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation (as the Orthodox Church has done since 1989), local Church organisations are organising a number of activities this month to call the faithful to engage in ecological conversion.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of environmental protection. However, compared to the speed with which humanity is destroying the environment, our awareness is still in its infancy. 
It is increasingly obvious that since the Industrial Revolution, people have developed a bad habit of neglecting nature. For change to happen there needs to be a new thinking, a new value and culture.
To build a new culture, society needs a certain degree of awareness and understanding of environmental protection. This must become a new kind of ethical habit, therefore ecological education plays a very important role.
There are many ways for Church organisations to promote ecological education, probably with reference to the following three basic directions:
• Immersion in real situations: We need to understand nature and its existing problems. Instead of solely relying on the information in books or on social media, we need to experience, in person, the beauty and harmony of nature and make careful observations of animals and plants. We can visit places like polluted beaches or landfill sites and understand the impact on these places and their serious situations. The best way to deepen our understanding of nature is to get up close and personal. 
• Gaining knowledge: We need to have the knowledge of how our faith speaks about the relationship between heaven, earth and humanity. Catechumens and students, when they first come to know about the faith, need to develop an awareness of “the relationship of faith and nature and its importance.” 
Furthermore, we must have understanding of the workings of nature, the importance of biodiversity, the rich and varied ecological modes of animals and plants, the threats to the environment, the backgrounds to these threats and their impact on the world. 
• Educate on implementation and action: How can we learn to lead a simple life or implement environmental protection in our daily lives? Some of the initial options to learn sustainable development include nurturing plants at home, in community farms or in fields.
There are various interventions in ecological education. Some are active, some are passive and some also require creativity. 
For example, people can bring their own cutlery to parties and gatherings, use eco-friendly paper for printing, promote a greener environment and build a culture that has a positive influence our daily lives and beyond to the greater society.
The present ecological crisis is a major challenge. Reversing it will require much time and a collective effort. As St. Teresa of Kolkutta said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, says that for Christians, caring for the environment is “an essential part of their faith” (#64). SE