Archbishop Dolan, Frankincense, and marriage

While I was busy with Christmas preparations and year-end parish and diocesan work, a few big news items came along that need to be acknowledged.

The happiest of news is that this week, the Holy Father accepted a miracle attributed to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1880), placing her on the list for elevation to sainthood. Bl. Tekakwitha is the patron for all things ecological, and we are much in need of her intercession.

 I also came across insights on a growing environmental issue here in the US—one that, like what I'll be discussing below, has something to say about our need for a Savior. More on that in an upcoming post.

For now: Kudos to Archbishop Timothy Dolan for eloquently explaining the Holy Father’s ecological mindfulness. Here’s a sampling:
As the Holy Father teaches, just as disturbing the environment outside of us has dire consequences, so does contradicting the inner ecology of our very person harm ourselves and others.
Sadly, at the very time more and more people are realizing that the environment of nature and creation demands respect and protection, fewer and fewer people acknowledge that the ecology inherent in the human person needs reverence as well.
When the environment of the human person is “polluted” by disobedience to the natural law protecting it, there is, literally, “hell to pay,” for that individual, and for the common good.
As I’ve posted about herein (here, here, and here, for instance) the use of the term “human ecology” continues to unpacked by Church leaders—and rightly so. It is one that can help evangelize, catechize, and, thus, save souls.

Two recent news stories—one cultural, one ecological—make this point.

A report out on marriage by PEW Research Center notes that just under “half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7).”

The report isn’t all bad news, but it does seem to show a cultural change in the way we in America view this ancient cultural foundation—which mirrors trends in other Western cultures, too. What are the societal impacts of all this? The report doesn’t dig deep into that question, but this line is telling:
Younger generations are more likely than those ages 50 and older to hold the view that marriage is becoming obsolete. Some 44% of blacks say marriage is becoming obsolete, compared with 36% of whites. Adults with college degrees (27%) are much less likely than those with a high school diploma or less (45%) to agree that marriage is becoming obsolete.
Interestingly, the report later notes that just under half of those who say that marriage is becoming obsolete also said they would like to be married. Clearly, a cultural conversation of epic proportions is taking place, a dialogue that is convincing people that a new age of freedom is approaching and that the old ways are dying. This, of course, is a lie. The only age that’s growing is a culture of death, one which seeks to undo the place and beauty of committed relationships between men and women.

In the eco-world, a Christmas report on the apparent demise of Frankincense shows us a natural-world example of what happens when cultures cooperate with death. Particularly, this is an example of what happens when people take what they want at unhealthy rates from unhealthy ecosystems. The reported reasons for the decline in the resin-producing trees are many, which demonstrates the interlocking nature of ecology and man’s impact on it.

In short, whether you’re speaking of Frankincense or marriage, there are ecologies in nature (human and natural) that we humans must respect. This “must” is not some sort of ethical nicety, but a hardwired reality in the fabric of the cosmos. We ignore such laws at our peril.

Which is why, quite obviously, we need help in saving ourselves and our ecology. And so we pray,

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,

In ancient times did'st give the Law,

In cloud, and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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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.