April 22 marks the celebration of Earth Day 2022. This annual event, which began in 1970 and launched the modern environmental movement, reminds us all that the care and protection of our earth and natural environment is of urgent concern. Indeed, caring for the earth and its resources is a moral obligation, one in which Christian stewards must play their part as stewards of God’s creation. We have listened carefully to recent pontiffs sounding the clarion call for the safeguarding of God’s creation. Pope Benedict XVI was sometimes called “the first green pope” for his continued plea that we respect the environment. Under his direction, solar panels were installed at the Vatican, and Vatican City signed up for a project that offset carbon-dioxide emissions.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, has frequently spoken about protecting the environment. In his first Mass as pope, Francis called on us to be “protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” Stewardship of the environment has become an ever-deepening part of our spiritual consciousness. For the Christian steward, caring for our earth and its resources is not an academic subject but a personal and practical one.
There are a number of ways we can celebrate Earth Day and demonstrate our commitment to protecting our environment. Even small actions can have great consequences! Pick up litter, recycle, turn off the water when you brush your teeth, switch to online bill payments, use public transportation, turn down your water heater, install energy efficient lights. If we stop to think about it, there are dozens of ways we can lighten the tremendous burden we place on our environment in order to promote a healthy ecosystem; especially those of us in North America who use such a high percentage of the world’s resources. The challenge of maintaining a clean environment is a matter of urgency, as the results of climate change can be seen regularly now. We are called to be good stewards of the earth. Let us celebrate Earth Day 2022 by making changes to the way we treat God’s creation. Let us establish a cleaner, healthier earth that will be sustained for generations to come