Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated yearly on April 22 to demonstrate support worldwide for environmental protection. The Catholic Church has a long tradition of calling for proper stewardship of the earth.

In May 2015, Pope Francis published Laudato Si’, an encyclical focusing on care for the natural environment and includes topics such as global warming and environmental degradation. He then released a follow-up document to the encyclical on Oct. 4, 2023, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, to address current issues.

In honor of Earth Day and in response to the Holy Father’s message urging the faithful to take action in protecting the environment, here are five ways Catholics can celebrate Earth Day, on Earth Day or at another time.

1) Spend time with God in nature.

Consider going on a hike or simply take a walk outside and spend time in prayer thanking God for his beautiful creation. You can also find a nice spot to sit and contemplate nature while resting in God’s presence. The whole family can participate in this one.

2) Create a Mary Garden.

A Mary Garden is one filled with plants, flowers, and trees that honor Our Lady and Jesus. Examples include baby’s breath to represent Mary’s veil, lilies to represent Mary’s queenship, poinsettia to represent the Christmas story, and chrysanthemum for Epiphany. You might also consider placing a statue of Mary in your garden. If you don’t have enough space outdoors, consider creating an indoor garden using a terrarium and smaller plants and mosses.

3) Read Laudato Si’.

Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ second encyclical after becoming pope, translates to “praise be to you.” This is in reference to St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures,” where the saint praises God for the goodness of natural forces such as the sun, wind, and water. The encyclical not only focuses on care for the environment and all people but also looks at broader questions about the relationship between God, humans, and the earth.

4) Take the St. Francis Pledge.

The St. Francis Pledge, initiated by the Catholic Climate Covenant, asks Catholics to commit to honor God’s creation and advocate on behalf of people in poverty who face the impacts of climate change around the world. The pledge includes praying and reflecting on the duty to care for God’s creation, analyzing how each of us contributes to climate change, and advocating for Catholic principles in discussions on the topic.

5) Learn more about the lives of the saints who had a connection to nature.

There are several saints who are known for their love of God’s creation including St. Francis of Assisi, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and St. John Paul II. St. Francis of Assisi and St. Kateri Tekakwitha are considered the patron and patroness of ecology. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was known for his love of hiking in the mountains and encountering God in nature. St. John Paul II was also known for taking spiritual retreats to the mountains and his love for the outdoors.