Emulating Saint Francis ...
As we end our emphasis on stewardship of the earth over the past few weeks, it is important to look at the depth of the duty of stewardship in our theology and at the reason for this depth.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, “The Lord of the Rings”, there is an industrial revolution driven by the greed of Saruman, the White Wizard, that threatens the existence of nature. At one point Saruman actually exclaims, “The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise.”
Interestingly, this portrayal of industry is part of Tolkien’s overall deep Catholic faith. In fact, Tolkien himself is quoted as saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”
As evidence of Tolkien’s correctness in his faith, Pope John Paul II said, “. . . life must be handled with care, including animal life and all of animate and inanimate nature.”
John Paul’s teachings made this call to handle life more clear by highlighting several things including:
– The connection between nature and humans and their interdependence;
– Humans acting for the Creator to protect what was proclaimed as “good”;
– The necessity and dignity of work that participates in the ecology of each community;
– Connections of poverty to degradation of the environment and war to environmental destruction;
– The destructive links between greed and materialism and a culture of waste; and
– St. Francis of Assisi as a model and naming him as the “Patron Saint of Ecology”
At St. Francis College Prep we teach our students that whether it is the faithful layperson or the head of the Church, the issue of man’s duty to be good stewards of God’s creation is deeply rooted in our faith.
And, this begs the greater question of “why?”
We find the answer in Revelation 11:18, “The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
In short, on the Day of Judgment God will destroy those who have destroyed His creation. Thus, we find the importance of emulating St. Francis, the Patron Saint of Ecology.