On December 31st, many people feel the excitement of a new year lingering with the calendar and celebrate the anticipation of what the new year will hold for them once the clock ticks over to the first new day of the year. Many recommit to exercise, dieting, and living healthier lifestyles in the coming year with hopes to make it a better (happier!) year than the last! Although I usually dust off my My Fitness Pal app on the 1st, I’ve never really made new year resolutions or goals — but this year is different…
I have resolved myself to be GREENER!
Going green is obviously not a new idea to me, but from my journey even this far, I’ve learned one BIG, incredibly important thing: Being eco-friendly, healthy and green is a COMMITMENT. You can’t change your habits and lifestyle without great effort and effort requires commitment. So this year I’m resolving myself to a new Green!
Why Resolve to a Greener New Year?
If your goals are to live healthier, green living can make you healthier. If you want to help other people or save wildlife, living eco-friendly can change things to help people and creatures across the world. If you want to become a more faithful Christian person, committing to a Christian green lifestyle can help you find a deeper relationship with Christ and walk more closely with him in solidarity of all mankind.
To live green can mean so many things, but if we want real change, no matter what our reasons or motivation, to be successful it must involve commitment in every area of our lives. We may not be able to do it all at once, but changing your mindset and resolving to make small changes everyday is the most important step. If you don’t commit to change, you will remain the same.
Christians Cannot Opt-Out
I’m just beginning to look more closely into Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home, and it is enlightening. Even within the first few pages, he emphasises the necessity for everyone to commit to changing our lifestyles as “all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents,” (1) Although the letter is addressed to ALL people, I can’t help but read it from a Christian-American perspective.
When Pope Francis addresses the “throw away culture,” (2) I can’t help but to think he is talking DIRECTLY to Americans. We are so blessed with abundance in this amazing country of ours, that we are unable to understand how our consumption (or should I say, over-consumption) affects others around the globe. Unless we are (or have direct contact with) missionaries or business that carries us to global impoverished areas, we really can’t really understand how blessed we are and how much our brothers and sisters around the world are in desperate need of help.
But if we stop and try to look past our comfortable lives to seriously consider some of the things we see and hear about in the news, we might be able to imagine their suffering and begin to realize as Pope Francis says, “…human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with neighbor, and with the earth itself.” (3) These three relationships can’t be separated and their problems can’t be addressed individually without addressing the others. So as Christians, we CANNOT opt out.
As we grow in our relationship with the Holy Trinity, we grow in relationship with the whole of the Body of Christ. These two relationships are easier to understand, but it is our connection to the earth that is too often misunderstood. And when we fail in our responsibility to the earth, we fail to recognize “…that everything is interconnected, and genuine care for our own lives and our relationship with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.”(4) Here and throughout the encyclical, Pope Francis shares his wisdom as well as that of St. Francis of Assisi, Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict, and sacred Scripture itself. This wisdom reminds us the great expectation given to us by God that we are to “till and keep” the earth (Genesis 2:16) with love and care and by doing so we more fully live the commandment to “love one another” (John 15:17).
I hope in these coming weeks and months, that I will be able to continue to share my Going Green experiences with you while I study this encyclical more closely. If you would like to study it with me and share your thoughts, you can read it for free on the Vatican website here or you can pick up the copy I’m reading for about $12 on Amazon.com.
God bless and my prayers are with you for a Greener 2017!
References to Laudato Si’, Care for Our Common Home:
- Paragraph 14.
- Paragraph 22.
- Paragraph 66
- Paragraph 70