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An ancient prayer to the Holy Spirit brings lessons for anyone working to protect the created order

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.

And so we come to the great Feast of Pentecost—a liturgical moment that comes with a prayer that we Catholic eco-advocates should say daily and meditate on in three important ways.

The first teaching is on humility. “Come, Holy Spirit” is a cry for aid. It’s an admission of our need for God’s nature-elevating grace. To utter these words is to admit before God and neighbor that we need this grace to grow in holiness and, in the process, grow in the virtues necessary to share with others (through word and deed) the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The second teaching is on the centrality of love. This “love” is not the worldly eros or philos, as important as those loves are. It is, instead, agape,...

Saving souls will always be the first duty of parish life, which we can do while taking steps to save our corners of creation

You’ll soon be hearing about tools to help the Catholic Church change lifestyles in favor of an integral approach to human and natural ecology, as spelled out by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and by his predecessors.

But you don’t have to wait. There are a few things we can do now in our parishes to begin our journeys to a better world.

Here are three:

We can look at our energy bills every month and plug away at lowering them by using more efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems. My local utility has programs to help, and so may yours. Even easier, you could audit your own lighting and utility systems to check how long they’ve been in service and how efficient they are. A simple cost-benefit analysis might show that energy savings from new boilers or lighting (for example) will pay for the cost of new systems after a few years, and then you'll continue to save on your monthly bills. At some point, you’ll need professional help with switching to more efficient systems—but then, you may have that expertise already in the pews. Even by making small steps monthly, your energy bills will begin...

Set in an age reeling from eco-crises, the novel tells a story of faith, the future, and the power of free will

Remember all those posts with a mention of that novel I was writing? Well, after two years, the novel is done. And I wanted to announce today, on the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, that it's ready for pre-order, with a release date set for August 28, the Feast of Saint Augustine. (Besides a dedication to my mom and dad, it's also dedicated to those two saints.)

A Printer’s Choice (Izzard Ink), a sci-fi murder mystery, was conceived in the posts of this blog. It explores questions important to Catholics that are engaged in eco-protection—questions about choice and the necessity of choosing well. Set in locations on Earth and in the orbits, A Printer's Choice takes place in a future extrapolated from today’s geopolitical and ecological turmoil. My goal in writing this story was not simply to illuminate the struggles of our world, but also the promises and implications of building a better one, one choice at a time.

And so far, reviewers have championed this message.

“W.L. Patenaude pens an out of this world, whodunit mystery in A Printer’s Choice,” writes Cheryl E. Rodriguez at Readers' Favorite.

Rodriguez adds that the book...

The death of Alfie Evans is a terrible reminder that if we’re serious about integral ecology we should be championing life in a unified fashion

Alfie Evans, the British toddler suffering from an apparent neurological illness, died this morning, days after his life-support systems had been turned off at the orders of an English court.

The tragic affair continues to arouse a strong and growing response around the globe—even if some news outlets have been less than dedicated to reporting what’s happening.

Particularly vocal was Pope Francis, who has been cheered these past weeks by conservative Catholics for supporting Alfie and his parents, Kate and Tom. The pontiff had gone so far to offer treatment for the child at the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome—if only the British courts would have allowed it.

Catholics around the world joined the pontiff in championing Alfie’s dignity. They’ve reminded the world that the brand of Utilitarianism employed by British medical and legal systems is a form of savagery that all people of good will should reject.

There’s been a great deal of analysis about all this, most especially this fine piece in First Things by Fordham’s Dr. Charles Camosy.

What you and I should stress within all this analysis is the consistent theme of integral ecology within Pope Francis’...

With the announcement this week of big Catholic institutions divesting from fossil fuels, people are taking notice

It’s been a long-standing tradition within the Church to not do business with those that knowingly harm others. In the twenty-first century, that means divesting from companies that profit from fossil fuel extraction—the byproducts of which we know are a major cause of global warming.

Following a smaller announcement in 2017 of Catholic institutions divesting from the fossil-fuel business, the Global Catholic Climate Movement announced this week that an impressive thirty-five more institutions have followed suit.

Long championed by ecclesial voices that you’d expect to take such action, this latest wave comes with some big names. One of those is Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization of some 160 Catholic charities. Lead by His Eminence Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila, the organization knows firsthand the impacts of stronger storms, sea-level rise, drought, and other impacts of a warming globe.

The list, in total, is impressive. And there are divesting resources available for anyone in a position of influencing organizational finances.

The dent all this makes in the global fossil fuel industry may not be noticed in anyone's financial ledgers, although one divesting group is ...

Today's readings come with pretty powerful messages about saving the world

I was struck this Earth Day morning by the readings at Mass—this Good Shepherd Sunday—especially the exhortation in the Psalms:

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

The readings reminded me of my Good Friday post, where I asked these questions: when we Catholics engage environmental issues, or any social issues, what expectations do we bring? What strategies do we employ?

I noted that we do need a revolution, just not the political variety. What we need is God’s revolution.

Today on Good Shepherd Sunday—another day called “Good”—I'm struck by the confluence of this annual observance with another, Earth Day, and what it has to say about our growing overreliance on government. Of course, I understand the state's importance. I’m a civil servant, after all. What concerns me is the unspoken expectation by some, especially those on the left, that new laws and regulations will solve all our ills, as if it were possible to legislate the love of neighbor.

Many of our Earth Day events show us just the opposite....

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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.