December 1, 2014
LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Creation care ministry combines both practical and Christian elements – an exquisite blend of why God wants us to care for his Earth and how to go about doing it.

Norman Lévesque has written a book that provides a guide to going green the Christian way – Greening Your Church (Novalis).

Lévesque's book includes not only ways to make your parish more environmentally responsible, but also ways to alter your own life as well as a theology to provide the foundation for such ecologically-inspired change.

Lévesque is a teacher and the director of the Green Church Program in Montreal.

STEWARDS OF CREATION

As Archbishop emeritus James Weisgerber writes in the foreword, "We are stewards of God's good creation. To be human is to be responsible for tending the great garden that is the earth.

"Ignore this and we put Earth in serious jeopardy. . . . We simply cannot expect our political leaders to resolve these serious issues without our input."

In the theological portion of the book, asking whether have we betrayed God's plan, Lévesque points out, "No species is evil, bad or despicable."

Given this, Lévesque states we cannot see the maple tree, beaver, lark, wolf "in the same way.

"These creatures are in Christ and their lives are held together by him."

Shivers go through the reader as one recalls reading of the shooting of black bears lured to humans' discarded garbage, slaughter of wolves moved from Canada to the U.S., dogs shot, still alive and left in ditches, wholesale clear cutting of forests for money/political reasons. On it goes.

These are God's creations. This is God's creation. Yet humans destroy the symmetry of his world.

"Our faith in Christ inspires us to share space with creatures, because they were created by him and for him," states the author.

THE FALLEN SPARROW

Lévesque backs up his premise by recounting his and his father's love of a fallen sparrow, a tiny bird that to the passing parade of humanity means nothing.

Lists of ecological saints complete with date, country and their beliefs are included. To inculcate them into a reader or group's mind activities are included, such as games, prayers.

It's when he brings it into the everyday world – when did you last get your car tuned up? – that a feeling of being more than a tad uncomfortable, irresponsible and you wonder if you should sit down and make a list of how you might be defiling God's wishes and world.

If you are feeling this way, maybe others in your parish are too. This new ministry is called Creation Care; it covers three pillars – spirituality, awareness, action. In the book, a plethora of activities are suggested from special prayers, films and activities (such as people working together to clean up the litter in a city park).

RELY ON THE YOUTH

Basically, a church must develop a mission statement after having performed an energy audit on the building. This may lead to actions such as installing an energy efficient furnace and using compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The program could be introduced to the children and teen groups too. Their inquiring minds might introduce all sorts of green strategies the adult mind would miss.

Indeed, this is the world they are going to inherit.

This handbook, while intent on Greening Your Church, takes the reader into his or her everyday world. The same actions can be practised individually, as a family, in the neighbourhood, even out in the city itself.

The author's pragmatism for the Church itself starts with an energy audit. Install bike racks, car pool. Buy locally. Ban pesticides. Use clover and thyme grass.

To make this work, like any good organization, one needs a leader, heads of various sub-groups and regular meetings. Unique ideas and activities specific to each parish are to be expected.

The key is to get moving and do it.

It's God's world. He made it the way he wanted it to be. We are his stewards.