Called To Be Holy
In our Christian Heritage we have many “ecological saints”. Beginning with Paul of Tarsus (567A.D.) to Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) the Patron Saint of Ecology. It was in the forest among the trees and the silence that the Great Spirit spoke to her heart. All of nature spoke to her of the Creator. Being in harmony with all of creation was a value she learned among the Aboriginal people.
In 1979 Pope John Paul II named Francis of Assisi the patron saint of environmentalists. The following is one verse from the Canticle of the Creatures written by St. Francis in 1224. All praise be yours my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth who sustains us and governs us and produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve him with great humility. There are at least twenty-five more “ecological saints” in our church history, many are not familiar to us but all have proven to be an example to a way of life that calls us to live in harmony with all of creation. These saints have been actively involved in Creation Care Ministry and thus making us aware that Creation Care Ministry is not a recent invention.
St. Bernard is one of these 25 saints, a Cistercian monk and author of many books of theology and a Duclac of the Church. He stated “you will find more in the forest than in books. The trees and the rocks will teach you what no master could reveal.” He also preserved 20,000 hectares of forest. These saints make us reflect on our own Christian journey and how we regard creation.
It is interesting to note the list of ecological saints end in the 17th century, when Christians came under the influence of Cartesian thought, which caused a rift in humanity’s relationship with creation. Will the 21st century be a period of ecological renaissance for the Church? Will we be responsible for being part of an ecological renaissance? Men and women of God, following Jesus’ example, have a special gift of interpreting the present time and put their trust in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Romans 8:19-22). This passage, while enigmatic, offers hope to all who are affected by the present environmental crisis. This hope will lead to action.