Reverence for Life

It is difficult to read the news these days. The rhetoric that surrounds us is increasingly becoming less tolerant and more violent. Headlines about school shootings, a lone gunman opening fire in a mall, a coffee shop, at a golf club, people targeted both in our country and others because of their dress, their culture, their religion. Leaders at multiple government levels seem to believe that walls and weapons will make us safe. Yet any cursory look at history calls out the fallacy of that thinking. Temporary peace, maybe. Lasting peace, never. Now more than ever it is up to each of us to look within ourselves and decide what kind of world we want to live in and what will it take, both individually and collectively, to make that world a reality.

Sometimes the task seems overwhelming, but there are those who have gone before us who have left us, not only words of wisdom, but a path to follow. One such individual is Albert Schweitzer. “Ethics,” he wrote, “grow out of the same root as world- and life-affirmation, for ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil…The one essential thing is that we strive to have light in ourselves. When people have light in themselves, it will shine out from them. We need a new reverence for life…because to the one who is truly ethical all life is sacred, including that which from the human point of view seems lower on the scale.”

All life is sacred. There is no such thing as one nation, one culture, or one people being superior to another. The ant, the turtle, the deer have as much right to exist and flourish as the human species. The lakes, the rivers, the oceans, the mountains are not simply resources for human exploitation, but part of a whole. Each individual, each creature, each created entity is but a strand in the tapestry of creation. All are called to live in harmony with one another. Today we have lost our moral compass. We no longer see ourselves as part of something greater. A quote by Bruce Lipton challenges us to look at the whole: “A miraculous healing awaits this planet once we accept our new responsibility to collectively tend to the garden rather than fight over the turf.”

For each of us, the first question must be “What part of the garden am I called to tend?” Other questions will follow:

How do I treat those who are different from me?

What initiatives have I taken to learn from “the other”?

How do I relate to the natural world…to the plants and flowers, to the bees and butterflies…

How do I add beauty to the world around me?

Then one step at a time as I care for my plot and others care for theirs we will meet at the boundaries of our own gardens and realize that, indeed, we are all connected from the tiniest ant to the human species.

Dr. Schweitzer reminds us that “by practicing reverence for life we are in a spiritual relationship with the universe; we are in harmony with it.” He also cautions that  “The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics…Now we must re-discover the fact that we – all together – are human beings, and that we must strive to concede to each other what moral capacity we have. Only in this way can we begin to believe that in other peoples as well as in ourselves there will arise the need for a new spirit, which can be the beginning of a feeling of mutual trustworthiness towards each other. The spirit is a mighty force for transforming things.”

In conclusion let us include in our daily prayer that of Dr. Schweitzer: “O heavenly Father, protect and bless all living creatures that have breath; guard them from all evil, and let them sleep in peace…Amen.”



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Visit to Ghana

Sister of Charity Associate Father John Amankwah, a professor at Mt. St. Joseph University, is originally from Ghana in West Africa. He established a 501 C-3 called International Mission for Children (IMC) for the purpose of building schools in developing countries. Recently Father John and Sr. Caroljean (Cj) Willie, a member of the board, traveled to Ghana to meet with the Bishop, local Ashanti chief, and contractor to discuss plans for a school in the village of Kwapia. While there they toured the land a local chief has donated for the project and talked with a number of adults and children about their hopes and dreams for the future. IMC hopes to construct a school for students at the elementary through secondary levels and is currently writing grants and sponsoring a variety of fundraisers to provide the necessary funding for the project.

S. Cj and Fr. John

Discussing building plans with a local surveyor.

Touring the land the Chief donated for the school.

Meeting with some local children

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An Ecological Examination of Conscience

The season of Lent is a time for personal reflection. It is often a time of penance when some choose to fast and others try to give something up that they enjoy or commit themselves to doing something positive. This year we have seen the tremendous destruction throughout the world caused by natural disasters and are becoming more aware of the role we, as humans, have played in it by continuing to view creation as a source of exploitation rather than a gift from God. EarthConnection is offering a new approach to a very old tradition: the examination of conscience. What follows is an Ecological Examination of Conscience which invites you to take a few moments each evening to reflect on your relationship to creation throughout the day.

Begin by quieting yourself down. Let go of all that troubles or disturbs you. Reflect on the gift creation has been in your life this day and on your role in the ever-evolving creation story. In the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “We are collaborators in creation,” and as collaborators, we have an integral role to play in safeguarding this incredible gift, not only for those alive today but for future generations.

An Ecological Examination of Conscience

  • Pray for the gift of wisdom.
  • Pray that your eyes may be opened to all that you saw in your environment today.
  • Simply rest in God’s presence.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

  • What are you thankful for in creation today?
  • How did you show your appreciation for nature today?

Reflect on the Day

  • What in nature reflected the beauty and blessing of God’s image for you today?
  • Where were you most aware of God’s gifts in creation today?
  • Did you stop during the day to look at the beauty around you?

Where Are Improvements Needed?

  • How many times did you walk from one place to another and not even notice evidence of God’s gifts?
  • What can you do each day to remind yourself to stop and breathe in and out slowly reminding yourself of God’s presence?

Look Forward to Tomorrow

  • What gift do you seek for tomorrow?
  • What commitment are you willing to make?
  • Pray for the gift to be open to all that creation has to offer you.
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