written by New Windsor Presentation Sister Noreen Perelli
How fortunate we are-members of the Presentation Conference and associates, inhabitants of the North American continent.
Each morning most of us come out from between a lovely set of bed sheets wrapped around a Sealy posturepedic mattress, place our two feet on the floor of our own private room, indulge in the comforts of running hot water and a cup of Maxwell House French roast hot coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts (or other breakfast food to our choice), head to the chapel for liturgy or head out the door to face the world of our respective ministries.
In heading out the door we must remember our pocketbook or attaché bag, our car keys, ID, tissues, money and all the other little incidentals we need or desire to keep ourselves all together for the day. We hop into our cars and away we go. A pretty nice life style.
Our ministries call us to school, to hospital, to parish, to prison ministry, to homeless shelters, to congregational ministry, to nursing homes, to health care facilities, to visit the homebound, to retreat work, to justice work, or to wherever the need calls. Some of us are the prayers, those who spiritually support the rest of us in all that we do. We advocate for those less fortunate, we write letters on their behalf, make phone calls to our respective political representatives. The list goes on and on. We are doing it all, extending God’s compassion and mercy through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy-to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit the imprisoned, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, to admonish the sinner, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive all injuries and to pray for the living and the dead.
And now along comes Pope Francis. In a message to mark the Catholic Church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Francis now adds more to the works of mercy. Pope Francis says “that prayer and action to protect the environment should be added to the venerable seven corporal works of mercy and the seven spiritual works of mercy drawn from the Gospels and Christian tradition.” Francis says that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.” He stresses that human beings are deeply connected to all elements of creation and that we need to examine our conscience in how we treat creation. Francis is asking us to examine our lifestyle, think beyond self interest, step beyond our narrow personal comfort and security.
And now we ask ourselves how can we, the members of the North American Conference respond to the Pope’s call? In caring for the earth what can we do beyond what we are already doing?
- Maintain a spirit of hope
- Look for opportunities to engage others in conversations regarding the environment
- Become a more sustainable consumer. Where do the goods I purchase come from?
THINGS TO DO FROM THE COUCH
- Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning off when not in use
- Pay bills on line and stop paper bank statements
- Don’t print. Take notes from your computer
- Turn off lights not in use
- Buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices
THINGS YOU CAN DO AT HOME
- Air dry hair and clothes naturally when possible
- Use cold tap water in a full washing machine
- Take short showers
- Eat less meat, poultry and fish
- Freeze fresh produce and leftovers
- Compost if possible
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum
- Avoid sodium filled packaged food or canned food.
- Avoid pre-heating the oven.
- Plug air leaks in air conditioners, windows and doors
- Adjust your thermostat, lower in winter and higher in summer
- Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulb
- If possible, install solar panels in your homes
THINGS YOU CAN DO OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE
- Plant a tree or a vegetable garden. Start out small if you have never done it.
- Support your neighborhood businesses and keep people employed
- Shop smart. Plan meals and purchase only what you need
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers’ markets where possible
- Bike, walk, use public transportation and car pool when possible
- Bring your own canvas bag to the supermarket and let the clerk know you are saving the planet
- Purchase from yard sales. One person’s trash is another’s treasure
- Maintain your car
- Donate books, good clothes and furniture to charitable groups or to someone who needs them.
Last but not least, add your own ideas to the list above.
Each evening we return from our respective ministries, enjoy a good meal, watch the latest news on our flat screen TV or relax with a good book. Before retiring for the night, let us ask ourselves what have we done to show stewardship and mercy to our common home?
Pope Francis: “The object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.”