Over the month leading up to Earth Day (April 22), you’re invited to pray for, learn about, and take action to care for creation! Click the gray headings below for our suggestions on what to focus on each week.
Our Environmental Concerns Committee is excited to share that our butterfly and shade gardens have been designated a St. Kateri Habitat! Watch the video above for a virtual tour of the gardens, and click here for our feature on the St. Kateri Conservation Center’s habitat tours.
For more information about our Risen Savior Environmental Concerns Committee, click here.
For more information about Earth Day, which is a global effort and movement across cultures and religions, click here.
March 21-27: Focus on Food
Pray: Pick at least one day this week to try this prayer practice. Each time you eat or drink something, bring to mind the journey your food or drink took to make it to you—perhaps a journey of being planted and nurtured, harvested, packaged, shipped, and purchased. Imagine all the people and resources involved in bringing your food and drink to you. Give thanks for all those who contributed to sustaining you through food and drink. Bring to mind all those who go without food or drink. Ask God to be with them and to show you how you can witness God’s love to them.
Learn: How are issues of food, hunger, and care for creation connected? Consider learning about the food systems in our country and/or globally. Some places to start are Bread for the World (bread.org) or Catholic Charities Twin Cities 30 minute documentary “Food Justice” (https://www.cctwincities.org/food-justice-documentary-putting-a-face-to-hunger/) You might also check out Earth Day’s resources “Foodprints for the Future”.
Act: This week, track how much food you end up discarding. At the end of the week, make a plan for your next week’s groceries so that you can reduce the amount you discard. You might consider donating non-perishable food items to our Lenten Donation Drive for those who experience food insecurity and hunger.
March 28-April 3: The Perils of Plastic
Pray: Pick a time each day this week to incorporate the following prayer, “You Cry Out with Sorrow,” into your daily routine. “God you made our Mother Earth, who cries out with sorrow. May the wonder of your creation be revealed to us: Water that gives life, not destruction; Crops sown, not destroyed; Pure air to breathe, not polluted; Renew in us a respect for the magic of—A tiny seed, A flowing waterfall, A hovering skylark. Restore us to closeness with you, call us to change for you, and may your spirit cry out within us always. Amen.” [By Mary Clark/CAFOD]
Learn: Plastic that doesn’t go directly to landfill often ends up in the recycling bin, where we like to imagine that it will be recreated into something new. In reality, on average less than 10% of plastic actually gets recycled – and even this small amount is hampered by the fact that it is cheaper to make new plastic with cheap oil than it is to collect, separate and process old plastic for recycling. To learn more about this issue, consider checking out these resources:
- Watch this 1 hour PBS program “The Plastic Problem”
- Read this brief article from National Geographic “The World’s Plastic Pollution Crisis Explained”
- Watch this recorded 1 hour webinar from Catholic Climate Covenant “Reducing Plastic Waste and Moving Beyond a Throwaway Culture”
- Watch this 12 minute TedTalk by Van Jones “The Economic Injustice of Plastic”
- Talk about what you’ve learned with your family, friends, and neighbors!
Act: Spend a day taking note of every time you use plastic (for example, drinking from a disposable straw, using plastic wrap to cover leftovers, brushing your teeth with a plastic toothbrush, etc). Look through your plastic use log: Are there any items you can eliminate from your daily use? Swap plastic water bottles, silverware, to-go containers, straws, & shopping bags for reusable ones. Next time you need a new toothbrush, consider a bamboo one, which can decompose unlike plastic ones. Avoid products with excessive packaging. Choose more biodegradable/recyclable materials like glass, paper, cardboard, and metal. Here is a great resource from Dakota County on reducing and reusing. And here is a PDF guide to what waste items go where, and which items are actually recyclable in Dakota County.
April 4-10: The Web of Life and Integral Ecology
Pray: Dedicate 10 minutes this week to read and reflect on Genesis 2: 4-15. God entrusts humankind with caring for creation; open your heart to how God invites you to this mission. You might end your reflection with the prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called “Prayer to Care for Our Common Home.”
Learn: What is meant by an “integral ecology?” This term conveys how all of creation—humanity included—is connected and interdependent. The choices we make and have available are impacted by and also have an impact on the world around us. As Pope Francis writes, “All creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another…All creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God” (Laudato Si’, 91). Below are some resources to consider learning more from!
- Chapter 4 of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudatio Si’. (Click this link then go to pages 103-120). You can also learn about the themes of this chapter in this 15-minutes video from Daniel Horan, OFM:
- Check out this 5 minute video and short article from EcoCatholic, “What is Integral Ecology?”
- Read this brief St. Anthony Messenger article “Let’s Stop Fighting Over Climate Change” for connections between spirituality and care for creation.
- Search from a multitude of topics to learn about our local environment on the Three Rivers Park District Podcast “The Wandering Naturalist.“
Act: How are you being invited to live more attuned to the ways you are dependent on and also responsible for the care for our common home? Consider picking one or more actions here: volunteering with a county park or environmental protection group (such as Friends of the Mississippi River, Great River Greening, or Three Rivers Park District) in restoration efforts; planting native plants in our yards; or learning about how to protect pollinators like bees and butterflies.
April 11-17: Simplicity and Countering the “Throwaway Culture”
Pray: Have you ever thought about how what you consume, purchase, and throw away relates to your faith life? Try spending a few minutes holding that question in your heart as you pray the “Prayer for Simplicity,” below or found as a prayer card here.
Lighten my load, Lord. Help me to keep in balance the things I desire with those I truly need. May I give generously to those whose needs are far more pressing than my own. Lighten my mind, Lord. Help me to relinquish my opinions and judgments. By widening my worldview, may I come to a greater appreciation of the diversity of your people. Lighten my heart, Lord. Help me to release any toxic emotions that constrict my love and limit my compassion. Let gratitude, kindness, and delight in life arise in me like the sweetest song. In imitation of your devoted servant, St. Francis of Assisi, may I come to embrace simplicity as a sacred way to live. Amen.
Learn: Pope Francis has spoken extensively on how our worldview is one of convenience, where everything is seen as disposable, replaceable or temporary. This impacts how we relate to the earth AND one another. Check out this brief article “Pope Francis’s Guide to Avoiding ‘Throwaway Culture‘” to learn more.
As a practical learning piece this week re-think the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” To be an even more mindful steward of creation, consider these updated 6 R’s of Sustainability, which are ideally considering in the following order:
(1) Refuse: Refuse single-use items, such as plastic drinking straws. Refuse what you don’t need–such as impulse buys or the latest phone if yours still works!
(2) Reduce: Reduce to spend your resources on what you don’t actually need. Have you been meaning to go through your attic or closet this spring? If you get rid of unwanted items, check where you can donate or recycle them before putting them in the trash. (See this searchable guide from Dakota County for a start!)
(3) Repair: Before tossing a broken item, see if you can learn how to repair it, or ask around to see if friends or family members can help. Dakota County also has a free “Fix-It Clinic” and archived how-to videos on fixing commonly broken items.
(4) Reuse: Choose reusable items instead of disposable ones. You can find sustainably made reusable items like metal straws, water bottles, picnic sets, etc. OR make your own items, like cloth towels instead of paper towels, etc.
(5) Recycle: Recycle items that can be recycled. Here is a guide to Dakota County Recycling.
(6) Rot: Instead of tossing food scraps into the trash to end up in a landfill, choose to compost these materials! Dakota County has free organics drop-off. You can also learn how to at-home compost.
Act: When you go to purchase something—big or small—this week, ask yourself if this is a need or want. Is it something that will end up in a landfill? Can you put the 6 R’s of Sustainability into practice? You might also challenge yourself to pick one type of item you often need, such as personal care items or electronics. Research how you can buy local and buy quality; avoid fast fashion or poor-quality purchases. This will reduce the carbon spent on transporting/producing goods, as well as the need to frequently replace items
April 18-24: Water
Pray: In the Easter Season, we recall the waters of our baptismal promises. This week, every time you use or encounter water, recall your connection to water not only through baptism but in the ways you depend on water for everyday use and enjoyment. Reflect prayerfully on this excerpt from Carolyn McWatters’ reflection Gift of Water: “All of life emerged from water, and our bodies are largely composed of it, so [when I interact with water,] I am actually experiencing a visceral connection to that from which I came…Water is the Creator’s gift for the entire world to share…Water provides us with a window into the depths of God and the life God desires for us.” Find the entire reflection here.
Learn: Water connects everything around us. It covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface and is found in the ground underneath our feet, in the air that we breathe and in the clouds over our heads. As one of the most important nutrients on our planet, water is necessary for all life. It encourages plant growth, provides a home for many organisms and supports the functioning of our bodies. Unfortunately, of the world’s total water supply, over 96% is saline water found in oceans, while only 2.5% is fresh water. Because much of this 2.5% is trapped in glaciers or polluted, only about 0.007% of all water is left to support the world’s rapidly growing population. While freshwater is renewable, our population is using water so fast that nature can’t keep up with demand. Many parts of the world already have dangerously short supplies of water.
Learn more about the precious gift of water and how your actions impact it. Some starting places are to
- calculate your water footprint and learn tips to reduce it,
- visit the EPA’s WaterSense website, or
- view PBS’s “H20: The Molecule that Made Us” (note: you need a PBS subscription to view this series BUT you can view short clips of it by clicking the previous link and scrolling down the page.)
Act: Examine your water use!
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.
- Consider reducing the number of showers you take and/or reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower.
- Instead of pre-rinsing dishes, fill a small basin, place it in your sink to pre-soak dishes before washing OR don’t pre-rinse at all.
- Only wash laundry items when necessary; you can get more than 1 wear out of most clothing items!
- If you already are a pro at these things, consider collecting water in a rain barrel for all outdoor water needs and/or installing low-flow shower heads or toilets in your home.
Contact: Grace Koleczek, Adult Faith Formation & Social Justice Coordinator, email@example.com, (952) 698-1724.