Maryknoll Father Joe Healey, a Missioner in East Africa since 1968, looks at the 2019 Lenten Campaign Book offered by the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops to reflect on the care of creation during this Season of Lent.
In this year’s Season of Lent, the Catholic Church in Kenya is focusing our annual Lenten Campaign on the theme "Uniting, Healing and Renewal of our Nation…God’s Gift." The campaign is sponsored by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Download the 2019 Lenten Campaign Book, available in Swahili and English at http://www.kccb.or.ke/home/com/lenten-campaign-2019/
For the first week of Lent, which begins Sunday, March 10, the book emphasizes “Environmental Conservation and Protection.” Using the "See, Judge, Act" process (similar to the pastoral circle social analysis), we are directed to reflect on our own lives and Scripture. We begin by looking at a drawing on the bad (Part I) and the good (Part II) aspects of the environment in Kenya.
STEP ONE: SEE
In Step One (“See”) we look at the cartoon and learn the story of Sikujua, an imaginary village in Kwetu County.
As the population grew and industry flourished, environmental problems and calamities occurred. Local religious and political leaders, representatives of the government’s environmental agencies and other stakeholders in environmental conservation and preservation were invited to advise the community and advocate for the protection and restoration of the environment.
They resolved to raise awareness within the community about tree planting, good farming practice, including the use of organic fertilizers, crop rotation, agroforestry and protection of wetlands. They proposed ways to improve waste management and reached out to local industries to adopt environmentally friendly waste disposal.
As a result, the community now enjoys the benefits of a clean and healthy environment for all.
STEP TWO: JUDGE
In Step Two (“Judge”) we analyze the situation by considering quotations from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si' that present the urgent challenge to protect our common home. We recognize the need to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development that resonates with Catholic Social Teaching.
When we harm the environment, we are damaging our relationship with our “common home.” At the same time, we are damaging our relationship with other humans, in particular, those who are vulnerable and impoverished, as well as future generations. We are forgetting our interconnectedness with the earth and humanity that depends on our good stewardship of the gift of creation (LS 3).
Pope Francis invites us to embrace the “Gospel of Creation” that considers the world the way that God intended it. He warns us of consumerist and profit-driven economic ideologies of exploitation, and a throwaway attitude towards nature and human life itself.
The pope advises us to slow down and look at reality in a different way.
We are called to solidarity as one human family with shared responsibility for others and for creation. There is a need for international collective actions, such as switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy and adopting international agreements and legislation not only in relation to climate change but also biodiversity and care of the oceans.
It is time to act, change our lifestyle and consumption.
Believers and nonbelievers, families and communities are invited to make a difference in small but tangible ways. A deeper spiritual “ecological conversion” (LS 219) may be attained through consumer choices, education, and cultivation of ecological virtues such as reducing wastefulness and environmental awareness creation for all.
The Scripture theme for this First Sunday of Lent is the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4. Our mantra is “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Just as Jesus did, we call on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives.
God instructs us to be good stewards of creation. But we are tempted to violate creation through our selfishness and greed. Just as Jesus was challenged to remain faithful to the Father, we have the same challenge. God wants us to profess that he is in control and we should never doubt his love and care. The second reading from Romans reminds us that our trust of God must be manifested in our lives and proclaimed by our words.
STEP THREE: ACT
In Step Three (“Act”) we decide on some practical actions during this Lenten season to care for the environment:
1. Tree planting.
2. Garbage collection and cleaning.
3. Proper use of water and paper especially at places of work.
These actions remind us of the Lenten call to simple lifestyle, service, and self-sacrifice.