Concern for Mother Earth Then and Now

by Mary Deborah Carlin, SND on April 27, 2016

in Blogs

Some people might consider concern and care for Mother Earth something new and trendy. Far from it!  As far back as 1877, Gerard Manley Hopkins was deeply touched by the violence done to all creation by people.  This is clear in his most famous work, GOD’S GRANDEUR.

As a child, he basked in the beauty of his home environment in Hampstead’s Oak Hill Park. Large trees were his personal friends, especially the elms.  Agile and delighted, he would scale an elm and sit for hours viewing creation.  He sketched trees noting small details, uniting himself with their uniqueness.

In 1879 he wrote BINSEY POPLARS. In the poem, he laments the felling of a line of trees in a village near Oxford.  He wrote about it as a  brutal event doing irreparable damage, rendering the human eye sightless, and depriving future generations of nature’s exquisite beauty.

According to Pope Francis, practical concerns are not enough to motivate saving the planet. We need the spirit of Francis of Assisi, which transcends all material and practical considerations.  We need an openness to see an “integral ecology” in all creation.  Nothing stands alone.  Reasoning humans, moved by pious reflection and a sense of adoration, must connect with all creation in awe and wonder.  Feeling intimately united with all that exists, we become aware of God’s presence sustaining and renewing the face of the earth.

Examining present trends should heighten our sense of urgency as a world community to change our ways of drawing sustenance from Mother Earth. (Laudato Si’,  12-16)    These thoughts harken back to the 12th and 13th Centuries when Francis of Assisi and his disciple, Bonaventure, penned their great thoughts.  They reflect the thoughts in GENESIS and PSALMS. Our present concern only continues an age old theme.

What in nature draws you to its beauty?  How do plan to respond to show your concern for Mother Earth?


Sources for Further Study

Bonaventure, Saint. Bonaventure: “The Soul’s Journey into God,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Life of St. Francis.” Translated with an introduction by Ewert Cousins. New York: Paulist Press, 1978. This is a useful and clear presentation of three of Saint Bonaventure’s most important writings.

Bougerol, Jacques Guy. Introduction to the Works of Bonaventure. Translated by José de Vinck. Paterson, N.J.: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1964. A helpful guide to Bonaventure’s principal works.

Cullen, Christopher M. Bonaventure. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. A concise volume in the publisher’s Great Medieval Thinkers series, introducing Bonaventure’s thought for a student and general audience. Bibliography, index.

Gilson, Étienne. The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure. Translated by Dom Illtyd Trethowan and F. J. Sheed. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1938. Gilson’s scholarly analysis enhances his careful presentation of the historical context of Bonaventure’s life and works.


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Lisa Novak April 28, 2016 at 9:34 am

Enlightening article, Deborah! What goes around, comes around and this time delightfully so. What do I love about nature? Nature is beautiful in all its wildness, gentility, and beauty – freedom at its best, mirroring that the good God never ever runs out of ideas to grab out attention. Thank you!


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