December 13. Sister Mother Earth. Canticle 7. PRAISED BE YOU, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs. Theologians commenting on the life and teaching of St Francis speak of the earth as God’s house and oikos. Mother Earth is very much the foundation of the natural environment, the soil of the earth in which plants grow, provides nourishment. Mother Earth is also the land on which animals live and on which farmers grow their crops. The state and condition of Mother Earth is key to the wellbeing of all of creation. Each member of creation supports and sustains others in a vast food web, a circle of life of which humanity is only a part. Ecology is a relatively new science and a vital one in our day. Natural changes in vegetation occur periodically, but far greater is the impact of man’s recent interventions. Overcrowding and the move from the rural to the urban changes the setting, over-grazing by domestic animals, depleting nutrients from incorrect farming methods on land and deforestation, as well as the effects of industries and mining on the environment rob Mother Earth of the gifts she offers.
The circle of life consists of producers, consumers and decomposers in nature, but is also influenced powerfully by human interference and technology. It is noted that industrial agriculture and GMO to increase yield of food products is threatening the ecological basis for life. As in other areas of creation a growing understanding of eco-balance and creation is essential. Combatting overproduction, chemical poisoning, reduction and management of waste and pollution are core problems of today. (From Laudato Si’ and Care for Creation. )
But not everything has to be practical and useful. St Francis cherished the beauty of nature, and even insisted on an area in the friary garden for natural wild flowers. Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil no spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27. Pope Francis: This Sister, Mother Earth now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. LS2. For reflection and sharing: What are we humans to do? Managing our ecological footprint is a good exercise to start. Consider what is appropriate in individual cases to support Mother Earth. Depending on where we live, growing our own food gardens is becoming popular, not unlike subsistence farming which is still the way of life of millions of people all over the world. Ant farms, earth worm farms, making compost out of kitchen scraps are becoming popular with health-conscious people too.