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Why my observance of the day includes a very large fan

While friends will be taking part in profound, spiritual events around the world this morning, I’ll be clearing out storage shelves in my basement. Later I'll be emptying the closet that provides access to my attic. All this is being done because of the coming of a fan.

In July I scheduled a home energy audit. It includes a visit by a work crew that will attach an industrial sized fan to my front door. Then they'll turn it on, draw out the air of my house, and go about its rooms with tools that measure drafts.

The contract I signed—and just re-read last night—set the date for the coming of the fan for, yes, the morning of September 1st.

This means I have to give the crew access to the attic and to the basement windows, so I’ll be busy in the morning when I could be going to morning Mass.

The contract also says the work will take nine hours. Yes, nine—which I don’t believe but, well, there it is in writing.

This could cause a problem because at some point I’ll have to get to work to prep the final exams for a wastewater operator class that...

A recent poll about American Catholics and Laudato Si' is the tip of the “what Catholics could do better” iceberg

Here are some questions for you: In the United States, how many self-identified Catholics attend Mass every Sunday? How many believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist? And what’s the percentage of Catholics going to Confession?

The answers (we’ll get to those in a moment) may surprise you.

For now, there's another set of questions that have many shaking their heads. “We have lots of work to do” has been the common response by Catholic eco-activists to a recent poll by the Associated Press, working with NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Yale University.

The study of some 1,000 American Catholics taken a month after the release of Laudato Si’ indicates that only 40% of those responding had heard of the encyclical. That number drops to 31% among adult Catholics.

And only 23% said they heard about the encyclical at Mass.

The poll’s accompanying Associated Press story by Rachel Zoll (who I've worked with and respect) and Emily Swanson write that the “new survey has found fewer than half of U.S. Roman Catholics said they knew of Pope Francis' bombshell encyclical on curbing climate change.”

Of course the encyclical is not about climate...

Pope Francis calls for a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1st, which will kick off almost five weeks for heightened creation-care awareness

If you want to see the Church embrace eco-protection, just watch our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. Beginning September 1st, Catholics in the Philippines will again be celebrating the Season of Creation, and if eco-advocates around the world have their way, so will the rest of us.

Observed by Christian denominations under various names, the Season of Creation is now a staple in the life of the Archdiocese of Manila and throughout the Philippines.

Starting on September 1st—a day traditionally observed in the Orthodox Church as a day of prayer for creation—and concluding on October 4th—the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi—the Season of Creation will offer Catholics the opportunity to showcase in our lives the importance of thanking God for the goodness of creation.

It’s also a time to spread awareness of the crises within many of the ecosystems of the world.

And it's a time to remember the importance placed on creation at every Mass we celebrate throughout the year. The restoration of all things is foreshadowed in the sacrifice of bread and wine—the fruits of the earth and work of human hands—each time we celebrate the Mass and receive Holy Communion. (Perhaps...

Caring for Mother Earth takes on new meaning when you care for your earthly mom

They say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. These past few months, as the Catholic Church has taken center stage in global eco-conversations, I’ve been given other concerns to tend to—which is the sort of thing God does when you think he’s preparing you for one thing but gives you something else. But I’m not about to complain. What God has placed before me is the care of my mom who increasingly suffers from Parkinson’s disease and a few other medical issues.

Odd timing, though. Edifying, too.

Having been writing and speaking on the Catholic perspective of ecology since 2004—back in the days when not many people were following the topic—I’ve been readying myself, as it were, for what Pope Francis is doing now for the Church and the world. And as if on cue, in the past year I’ve been asked to attend gatherings and give talks around the globe. But I've passed on most because my place for now is here making sure doctors’ appointments are made and kept, meals are readied, and the morning newspaper is taken in for my mom to read with her coffee.

As I attend to...

Revealing footage of Planned Parenthood's views of the dead should have ecologists up in arms

Here in the States, the bloodstained reputation of Planned Parenthood has been getting bloodier with the back-to-back release of videos showing its executives discussing maximizing monetary benefits by selectively protecting valuable organs of unborn babies during abortions. Harvested from the hundreds of thousands of abortions Planned Parenthood performs annually, certain organs are considered in these videos (and apparently in the culture of Planned Parenthood) to be nothing more than commodities.

The videos are ghastly. So is the response by some who are trying to salvage the reputation of Planned Parenthood and along with it the practice of killing the unborn. Those who should not be in this camp are anyone who champions Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical Laudato Si’.

Here's why:

Pope Francis explicitly exhorts against abortion in Laudato Si’ and, of course, elsewhere.

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? (LS 120)


While critics complain that Rome should not welcome those with different views, doing so is who we are as Christians

We celebrate the three wise men in Matthew’s Gospel every January on the Feast of the Epiphany. Then we put them and their lessons away until next year. But really, we should keep this event in our hearts always.

These strangers from far-off lands were not Jewish and they came not knowing Christ—yet we sing their praises and proclaim their encounter with the King of Kings thanks to Matthew, who thought the event an important historical detail to capture.

Why, then, are so many today so afraid today when non-believers journey to the Vatican to confer on eco-issues?

A few weeks back activist Naomi Klein spoke at a pontifical conference. In a few days, mayors and other political leaders will follow to discuss human trafficking and climate change. Klein and these leaders are, I think, something like the new magi of the East.

Certainly they won’t all be doing Christ homage. But some might have their soul touched while working with the Church on issues of common concern to both.

An interesting detail not present in Matthew’s account is how many magi came to Christ in Bethlehem. The number three is traditional—one of those memories kept alive in...


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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.