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On the Path of Ecological Conversion

In the Year of Creation in the Diocese of Burlington, Lent is a time to fast for climate justice and perhaps even change personal habits to better care for the Earth.

“Over the past year, as I have learned more about the effects our dietary and behavioral choices have on the environment and those who call it home, I have gradually begun to incorporate more ecologically conscious practices into my life,” said Stephanie Clary, mission outreach and communication coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington.

The first step in this ongoing process was removing meat from many meals throughout the week. Next, she became more intentional about managing materials in her home through purchase and disposal choices like buying things in bulk and avoiding plastic when possible and separating food waste from trash for composting. “In this way, I participate in the ongoing fast for climate justice,” she said. 

However, during Lent she will fast specifically as part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Lenten Fast for Climate Justice.

During each day of Lent, Catholics from all over the world will fast for climate justice, joining the interfaith Fast For The Climate and the Green Anglicans’ Carbon Fast. Global Catholic Climate Movement will highlight the impacts of climate change on various countries through social media and other communications. 

In addition to fasting from food, the organization suggests fasting from activities that produce carbon dioxide like reducing use of fossil fuels, electricity, plastic, paper and toxins. The fast encourages participants to “pray and fast for the renewal of our relationship with creation and with our brothers and sisters in poverty who are already suffering the impacts of climate change.”

“The Lenten Fast for Climate Justice is consistent with the existing meaning of a Lenten fast, and Catholic fasting in general,” Clary said. “Because of the way this particular fast is organized, there is also an emphasis on global solidarity. In addition to the personal experience of reflection and prayer that fasting facilitates, the global movement highlights the tangible effects of such practices as abstaining from meat and/or carbon in today’s world. As is consistent with most religious fasting, the ‘excess’ that is not consumed should encourage ‘almsgiving,’ charitable action toward serving the vulnerable.”

On March 3, Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne was scheduled to lead the “The Stations of the Cross with John Paul II: On the Path to Ecological Conversion” at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Burlington. Clary and Josh Perry, director of worship for the diocese, were to present about fasting for justice at a simple soup supper immediately following the Stations of the Cross. Seasonal soup was to be provided by New Moon Café in Burlington.

Throughout his pontificate, in his preaching and teaching, St. John Paul II emphasized the gravity of the environmental crisis and the urgent need for the Church to respond to its moral and spiritual dimensions. 

For him, “the penitential season of Lent offers a profound lesson to respect the environment.”

“Lent, with its three-fold practice of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, is a time of heightened spiritual renewal which can reorient us in caring for our brothers and sisters, and in turn, caring for our common home,” said Perry.

Throughout the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, there will be a focus on prayer, education and action. “This event will encompass all three: prayer with the Stations of the Cross; education with the presentation about fasting for justice; and action with the sustainable meal shared and effective management of materials (compost, recycle, waste),” Clary said.

As this is the first event in the Year of Creation for the Diocese of Burlington, Perry hopes it is a doorway into other events in the Year of Creation: “As this soup supper and Stations of the Cross takes place at the beginning of Lent, I hope that it encourages a particular focus this Lenten season – to focus on prayer, our almsgiving and our fasting with integral ecology in mind.”

For more information on Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Lenten Fast for Climate Justice, go to catholicclimatemovement.global/2017-upcoming-moments.

Live "Laudato Si'" this Lent

Fast. Give. Pray.


Fast
 
…from meat. Learn about connections between meat consumption and ecological justice at Fast for Climate Justice: Global Catholic Climate Movement.
 
…from carbon by making responsible lifestyle choices. Instead of driving alone, join or organize a carpool. Have an energy-efficiency audit done on your home and follow through with suggestions. Explore renewable energy opportunities for your home or workplace. Try to reduce your overall use and consumption of goods.
 
…from plastic. While much plastic is recyclable, producing plastic requires use of crude oils, which depletes the Earth of natural resources. Instead, opt for glass, metal, ceramic, wooden or clay re-useable replacements.
 
…from waste. Even if it’s just for one day or one meal, attempt a zero-waste lifestyle. (Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish in Essex Junction hosts two zero-waste events each year!)
 
 
Give
 
…to local farmers and artisans buy purchasing their products instead of purchasing from big businesses, which require excess packaging materials and fossil fuels for shipping and often don’t observe Fairtrade practices.
 
…to a community garden (or organize planting one) to help address local hunger.
 
…to local, state and national parks to help protect God’s creation and provide areas to behold natural beauty.
 
…time to learn about living more ecologically and socially conscious, then put what you learn into practice.
 
…togetherness. Shop for, prepare and eat a family meal together, instead of purchasing fast food or ready-made meals, which require excessive, single-use packaging.
 
 
 Pray
 
…for ecological justice, that we may return to right relationship with all creation.
 
…for the grace to grow in virtue, which helps us to make more ecologically and socially conscious decisions.
 
…for the vulnerable, especially those affected by disease and severe weather due to climate change.
 
…for the Church, that it may use its prophetic voice to encourage action for ecological justice.
 
…in thanksgiving for food; for those who grow, raise, prepare, transport and distribute it; and for healthy and clean soil, water, air and environments required for its growth.
 
…in praise for something beautiful that inspires wonder and awe.


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Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
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