Theological Imaginings: Earth and Integral Ecology
The beauty of nature
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash
Mary Sullivan rsm (Americas)

 “Earth and Integral Ecology” is a huge topic, and since this reflection is limited to five (5) minutes, I will refrain from considering many sub-topics, and focus intently on the main and urgent action to which the Mercy Family is presently called:  integral ecological conversion.

The Sisters of Mercy and the whole Mercy Family talk frequently about “conversion”.  We may think we have already yielded to it; we may soften or limit its meaning, and think that we’ve “done it.” 

But have we, in face of the current, widespread, and severe degradation of Earth and the cries of all its vulnerable life, really surrendered ourselves to the thorough ecological conversion that these realities demand?  Or have we, so far, only tinkered around the edges, done a few necessary, but relatively convenient “ecological things” – recycled a few cans and plastic bags -- and then rested upon our oars?

Have we truly committed our personal and communal lives to the radical, ongoing ecological conversion that the current climate crisis requires?  Do we treat this crisis as a crisis, as the most serious and far-reaching crisis Earth has ever known, the crisis whose magnitude and multiple facets cause so many of the other crises Earth’s peoples and her created life are now experiencing?  For most of us, the truthful answer is probably No.

Let me say it flat out:  What we need to embrace more vigorously is a profound change in the way we live our human and Mercy lives, a change in our minds, hearts, and human behavior.  A change in the way we understand human life on this Earth, and in the way we relate to all the created life and resources of this Earth—this twenty-first century Earth, not some now obsolete “Earth” we learned about in primary school.

As Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home:

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.  A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. (art. 202)...

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Spanish translation by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Traducción al español por las Hermanas de la Misericordia de las Américas

Mary C. Sullivan rsm is a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

'I believe the "common life" inherent in our vow of poverty extends to all created life. Solidarity with our damaged Earth and its suffering peoples daily calls me to deeper lifestyle changes and the sacrifice of consumptive practices, purchases, and waste. I try to live mindful of the ultra-poor families in northern Haiti who attempt to survive on $1.25 a day or less.'

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