It is Good.

False dichotomies drive me crazy.  Placing two ideas in opposition to each other that can, in fact, live very well together.

How about this one?  REAL Catholics and Christians don't concern themselves with the environment, right?  You have to worry about the unborn and contraception and whether or not it's okay to hold hands during the Our Father.  There is certainly no time for this nonsense talk about pollution and whatnot.  That's for those other Catholics.

Have you ever heard people talk like that?  They bash the environmental movement as being hippie, new-age, wrongheaded, or even -gasp!- liberal, as well as any other as-bad-as-it-gets type of language that they can think of.  And, to a certain extent, I can agree insofar as the political false environmentalist movement is concerned or when it becomes a religion unto itself.  There is certainly a whole lot of money and political power at play when it comes to the 'green' movement and many of the ideas and positions of the hardcore so-called environmentalists are upon real examination HARMFUL to creation and the people it is supposed to serve.   (Case in point, there is no way in HECK I am putting lightbulbs that contain mercury into my home in an effort to save electricity.) You can be sure that those mean old big corporations that many of a left-leaning persuasion love to vilify will be much rewarded when certain policies and laws are enacted under the guise of fostering environmental awareness.

But I digress...
We bemoan 'cafeteria Catholicism' wherein people claiming to be Catholic at the same time also publicly dissent from the doctrine of the Church.  At the same time many who lament such contrived selection of doctrine do not even know the full teachings of the Church themselves. 

Let's look at a little book I like to call The Catechism of the Catholic Church, shaaallll we? (I'm pulling out my Dana Carvey church lady voice, can you hear it?):
(339) "Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness.  Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
(340) God wills the interdependence of creatures.  The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient.  Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other." (emphasis mine)
Beautiful.  But also eye-opening when we unpack it a bit. 

God specifically wills each creature.  That means, contrary to what I've heard devout Christians espouse, that they are not JUST there to serve us.  It's not all about us.  Oh, I hear you...people have a different dignity and are more valuable than a tree or a bird or that gross spider in the corner of my bathroom and we have eternal souls and I have a right to eat meat...  You're right.  But that still doesn't mean it's all about us or that every piece of creation was specifically made for our personal consumption.  In their very being each piece of creation gives glory to the Creator, separate from us.

Creation is amazing.  You've seen some of it, right?  Right.  Those crazy weird animals and plants that are in the ocean?  That tiny little itty bitty seed that grows into a full-blown plant?  That little thing we call the Solar System (totally freaks me out)?  C'mon, this yoda-bat??  God had so much fun, didn't He?

As Catholics we are supposed to take care of creation and respect the environment because it's God's. He made it and we love Him so we take care of it.  Did you see that 'contempt of the Creator' part? Hoo-boy.  That means when we do not respect the natural order of things and respect creation we are showing HATRED to God.  Yikes.

This flower is called a Bleeding Heart.  How can you NOT think this is cool?
Can you imagine being the wife of Leonardo Da Vinci?  (He had a wife, right?)  And you walk into the room where he is working on his newest painting.  He is pouring his very self into it because, well, that's what he does.  He is an artist.  And he also hopes you will love it, too, and it will make you happy because he loves you.  And you, of course, want to love your husband.  What do you do with said painting?  Do you take care not to spill anything on it or mess it up or in any other way compromise its beauty?  Do you treat it with great care not only because it is beautiful in and of itself but because you love the maker?  Or do you take it with a gruff 'thanks' and then put it somewhere where the kids will get at it with the Renaissance equivalent of the sharpie?  Do you flip it over to use as a serving tray?  Do you mistreat it but then say that it shouldn't matter because other issues are more important in your relationship?  If you were to intentionally abuse or neglect it, you would be showing contempt for our spouse.  Of course you don't worship the painting or value it more than your husband or children but you love your husband, and therefore you treat his art with great care and use it in the way it was intended by him.

God, the Master Artist, has invited us to be espoused to Him.  He wants us to rejoice in the masterpiece He has created.  He wants it to bring us joy and for us to use it well.  He wants us to be served by it, yes, but also for us to love Him more because of it and through it.

Do we do that?  Do we revel in the beauty and the weirdness and the intricacy that is His work?  And do we do our best to take care of it?

No, we should not be slaves to the environment.  We should not place human dignity on equal level with plants and rocks and other created things.  But to be truly human, to truly live out OUR dignity, we must take care of this beauty He has given us in a reasonable and loving way, as temporary as it may be.  We do not need to fear that by taking care of the earth that we are somehow slighting God.  The exact opposite is true.  By NOT taking care, we are slighting Him. And so we as Catholics or Christians or just people of good will, can work to take care of it and preserve it and use it wisely because we love Him and because it is beautiful and because He said it Himself, it is good.


  1. Wonderful, clear, right on! Thank you!

  2. We are observant, pro-life Catholics who attend Earth Day events almost every year. God has given us a glorious universe that really is charged with glory. We certainly have a responsibility to be good stewards of it.

    That false "either-or" menatility is tiring and simplistic and all too prevasive in election years.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

    1. You're right, I see the either-or mentality so much in so many things and it is so illogical! It's so good to hear when other Catholics live out this teaching with their children! And it's probably a great witness for non-Catholics to see that as well. Thank you!


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