We mindfully begin again our Lenten journey of spiritual renewal and conversion by going through the purposeful actions of praying, fasting (abstinence), and almsgiving (works of charity). These three practical ways express our true interior repentance or conversion.
Lenten Journey with All of Creation
All of creation (including food and water) and creative actions (all forms of prayer and works of charity) are aids for us to enter deeper into a meaningful journey of encountering and returning to Jesus Christ. All of creation is at the service of our conversion to the Lord.
However, all of creation – that is, Planet Earth, Our Common Home – “cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of goods with which God has endowed her … The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, water, air and in all forms of life. That is why the earth … is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor …” (Laudato Si, 2).
Ecological Conversion Not an Option
Inviting us to committedly consider the integral and intrinsic link between our Faith and care for creation, Pope Francis urges and challenges us to “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 49). He says that “… the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. … some committed and prayerful Christians … tend to ridicule expression of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits, and thus become inconsistent. So what [we] need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217).
Ecological conversion entails a “recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are [intimately connected to all of creation] in a splendid universal communion … By developing our individual, God-given capacities, an ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems and in offering ourselves to God “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable” (Rom. 12:1) (LS 220).
We must purposefully remind ourselves that ecological conversion is not an option, choice or preference – it is how we live as Christians. It should permeate every area of our lives, and at every level – individual, family, BEC, community, parish, nation, and the world. Conversion, gratitude for all of God’s gifts, and actions that respect the dignity of all creation – women, children, men, plants, animals, insects, rocks, etc. – are all integral aspects of our Christian Faith.
The main Lenten Campaign theme of Caring for Our Common Home for three years 2018 – 2020 will help us grow in deep awareness of our fundamental Christian calling to protect and care for all of Creation. Last year (2018), the theme was Stewards of Ecological Change and the Action Focus was Changing Our Throw-Away Culture. This year, we continue our Lenten journey of conversion – both interior and ecological – with the theme Encounter the Lord & Serve As Stewards, and the Action Focus Taking Steps to Minimise Ecological Damage. Let us reflect on how our daily encounter with the Risen Christ helps us to become integral ecologists, and to serve as responsible stewards of God’s wonderful work of art – Our Common Home!
OUR MISSION: CARING for OUR COMMON HOME
Pope Francis has declared October 2019 as Extraordinary Missionary Month (EMM) with the theme Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World. The Bishops of Peninsular Malaysia have dedicated 2019 to this theme. Reminding us of Jesus’ command to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), the theme is a call to each and every Christian to care for all creatures – men, women, children, plants, animals, insects, etc. In his pastoral letter calling for the EMM, Pope Francis states, “I am convinced that this [missionary activity] challenge remains as urgent as ever. … I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion that cannot leave things as they presently are. Let us not fear to undertake, with trust in God and great courage, a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”