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The Resistance Prays

October 3, 2018
By Sara Holliday

Today's Top Story
“The Trump administration knows the planet is going to boil. It doesn't care,” writes Bill McKibben in the Guardian. The administration’s rationale for scrapping Obama’s automobile mileage standards: this country “now officially expects the planet to warm by 4 [degrees Celsius]....Were the world to actually warm that much, it would be a literal hell, unable to maintain civilizations as we have known them. But that’s now our policy, and it apparently rules out any of the actions that might, in fact, limit that warming.”

In related news: On October 3-4, Christians all over the global West observe the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.
"Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." – John 12:24
And from St. Francis:
"Praised be my Lord for our Mother Earth,/who does sustain us and keep us,/and brings forth many fruits and flowers of many colors, and grass....

"Praised be my Lord/for our Sister Death of the Body,/from whom no one can escape."
(translated by Jon Sweeney)
Praised Be for Mother Earth and Sister Death
The purposeful indifference of the Trump administration to the future of our planet and its living beings is monstrous. Its fatalism is cynical and self-serving. We can scream about science and facts all we want. The highest level of our government isn’t unconvinced – it’s uncaring.
Yet I sympathize with the inability to face climate change. My motivation is the opposite, but I’ve been there. The problem is crushing, intellectually and emotionally. Some days it’s all I can do to recycle and block out the context. How can we truly praise and trust the love of God as manifest in creation when creation is shriveling before our eyes?
Lately I’ve been thinking about the Body of Christ. Eucharistic bread comes from plants, living beings of the earth; Eucharistic drink comes from plants, living beings of the earth. Jesus described the constant cycle of death and new life in many places, including the John passage above. He was also, of course, likening himself to the things of the earth and anticipating his own death. He did so with confidence that it would not be the end of his story. But death and destruction are still death and destruction, whether of a man or a forest. How can we contemplate these things without utter despair?
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ mother and others in his chosen family stand at the foot of his cross, accompanying him through his agony. When Jesus’ body was welted and bruised and pierced, was it any less beautiful to them? Was he any less their beloved?
Can we bear to look directly at both Mother Earth and Sister Death? Can we accompany our planet at this time of destruction as Mary and John accompanied the crucified Christ – and trust that this is not the end of the story?
Read a book or substantial article about climate change without flinching or indulging in dystopia. Gleb Raygorodetsky’s Archipelago of Hope is a good one you may not have come across.
And for St. Francis’ day, consider planting a tree. Archangel Ancient Tree Archive specifically maintains species proven to withstand extreme conditions.
Beautiful Christ, we experience you in the things of this earth, fruits and flowers and trees and even death. Give us the fortitude to face the destruction we see and hear about with deep grief and anger but without fear. Help us find creative ways to turn the tide of destruction - but also help us learn from our brother Francis how to praise you for both Mother Earth and Sister Death. Amen.
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