Creatio article in Ecuador

Below a few short articles by Creatio member Jose Miguel Iturralde,  one in an Ecuadorian magazine Vanguardia and two in Vive. Jose Miguel is an engineer and works in the Ecuadorian jungle supervising petroleum extraction. He has on the ground experience and faith formation with the CLM. Great job Jose Miguel!

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2. http://issuu.com/revistavive/docs/vive95

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God the farmer…

Recently Pope Benedict XVI has focused on the theme of education, and has given centrality to two concepts: 1. a steadfast patience and 2. truth. Both of these have implications for the environment.

1. In an address to university students in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI quoted St. James who urges us to have the attitude of the farmer: “Be steadfast, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.” (James 5:7) and exhorts us to imitate the farmer, who “steadfastly waits for the precious fruit of the earth” (James 5:7), “Look at the farmer: he steadfastly waits” (James 5:7). The Pope affirms that this may seem to be anachronistic in our times of technology, human enterprise and the immediate; but it is not. Th truth is that we are not “the only architects of history”, but rather God is. The only things that last are the one’s built on God. God is like a farmer himself, and only with Him can we truly solve the problems of the world, including the environmental problem. The metaphor of the man working, and waiting in the land, is a pointer towards a Catholic environmental attitude. God…

“is the true “farmer” of history, who knows how to wait. How many times have men tried to build the world without or against God! The result is marked by the tragedy of ideologies that, in the end, showed themselves to be against man and his profound dignity. Patient steadfastness in the construction of history, both at the personal and communal level, is not the same as the traditional virtue of prudence, which is certainly necessary, but is something greater and more complex. Being steadfast and patient means learning how to construct history together with God, because the edifice will stand only if it is built upon him and with him; only thus will it not be instrumentalized for ideological ends but be something truly worthy of man.”

2. This leads us to the second text, the Pope’s address for the World Day of Peace, dedicated to the education of the youth. Here the Pope explicitly highlighted the roots of our current crisis: “the roots are primarily cultural and anthropological” (1). This echoes a recent statement to the pontifical council to the laity, and is directly applicable to the Church’s understanding of the roots of current environmental problems, echoed in the same address for the World Day of Peace in 1990 by Pope John Paul II and 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.  Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the importance of educating in ” truth and freedom” , familiar central points of Ratzinger’s thought. The search for truth ultimately leads to the truth about man, an answer urgently needed to resolve the environmental crisis. Without the truth of man, we lose sight of the truth of freedom, and our mis-used freedom ends up abusing the world. The fundamental premise is that the anthropological error leads to the environmental error, which becomes a reflection of our own disorder (cf. Gaudium et spes 10). Below, the Pope’s own words:

Saint Augustine once asked: “Quid enim fortius desiderat anima quam veritatem? – What does man desire more deeply than truth?”(2) The human face of a society depends very much on the contribution of education to keep this irrepressible question alive. Education, indeed, is concerned with the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, focused upon man’s final end and the good of the society to which he belongs. Therefore, in order to educate in truth, it is necessary first and foremost to know who the human person is, to know human nature. Contemplating the world around him, the Psalmist reflects: “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). This is the fundamental question that must be asked: who is man? Man is a being who bears within his heart a thirst for the infinite, a thirst for truth – a truth which is not partial but capable of explaining life’s meaning – since he was created in the image and likeness of God… 

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To “Sister Nature” – Youth and Environment

Recently Pope Benedict XVI gave an address to an organization called ” Sister Nature”, which focuses specifically on environmental matters. Before getting into the content it is important to keep in mind the Pope’s introductory words, which explain why he decided to give a speech to this apparently small and obscure organization: he wanted to speak to the youth about creation. Below what he says.

“But above all I greet you, youth, dear young people! It is precisely for you that I wanted this meeting, and I would like to tell you that I appreciate very much your choice to be “guardians of creation,” and in this you have my full support.”

There are 3 main themes in the Popes speech, and one of them is clearly the importance of environmental education for youth. The Pope also mentioned how a true care for creation requires a respect for human life as well. And finally, he reiterated the centrality of Christ for a correct placement of creation in the universe. These are great words of support for the work of organization like Creatio and the John Paul II Adventure Institute in the USA. Below some key excerpts of the speech:

respect for the environment can not leave aside the recognition of the value of the human person and its inviolability at every stage and in every condition of life. Respect for the human being and respect for nature are one, but both can grow and find their right measure if we respect in the human being and in nature the Creator and his creation

I would emphasize the great importance of education in this field of ecology. I gladly accepted the proposal of this meeting because it involves so many young students, because it has a clear educational perspective. And in fact it has become apparent that there will be no good future for humanity on earth if we do not educate everyone to a more responsible way of life for creation. And this style is learned first at home and in school.

recognize in Christ the center of the universe, the light that enlightens every man and every creature.

The World and the Laity

In a few recent addresses Pope Benedict XVI has given some interesting diagnostics of our culture Some of these points are also relevant to the current state in which we see and relate to the environment. For example, on an angelus refection on advent the Pope said:

” …certain aspects of the post-modern world: cities where life has become anonymous and horizontal, where God seems to be absent and only man is master, as if he were the universal architect. Building, work, economy, transport, science, technology, everything seems to depend only upon man. And at times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.”In reality, the real ‘master’ of the world is not man but God.” 

One common debate in environmental ethics and philosophy is the issue of ” centrism” . Christianity is often accused of promoting a radical anthropocentrism, as opposed to biocentrism, that leads to environmental degradation. This claim can be seen in classic authors such as Roderick Nash and Lynn White Jr. But when we reflect on the Pope’s words, the is a clear intention to steer away from this radical anthropocentrism, but rather placing God at the center of the world. When we consider who really promotes what view, I wonder whether in theory a biocentric environmentalist preaches such a view, but in practice lives a life of infatuation of what is all man – through technology, work, money etc. The question is, how does one live a life that recognizes that something other than mankind is at the centre? The Pope’s point is that in our personal lives we must strive to truly make God at the centre.

This theme was reinforced by another address given to the Pontifical Council for the Laity:

a mentality that is widespread in our time that rejects every reference to the transcendent, has shown itself to be incapable of preserving the human. The spread of this mentality has generated the crisis that we are experiencing today, which is a crisis of meaning and of values before it is an economic and social crisis. Those who try to live in a positivistic way, in the calculable and the measurable, become suffocated in the end. In this context the question of God is, in a sense, “the question of all questions.” It brings us back to man’s most basic questions, to the aspirations for truth, happiness and freedom that are native to his heart, that seek a realization. The man who reawakens the question about God in himself becomes open to hope, to a trustworthy hope, for which it is worthwhile to face the toil of the journey in the present (cf. “Spe salvi,” 1).

But how do we reawaken the question of God so that it becomes the fundamental question? Dear friends, if it is true that at the beginning “[b]eing Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person” (“Deus caritas est,” 1)”. 

Finally, an insight into how to encounter this person the Pope speaks of: his speech in Benin to children on prayer. Worth reading the entire document. A section is copied below:

What, then, is prayer? It is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our brother. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to him. I can also use the Gospels.