Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Low carbon Holy Week

If we feel drawn to contemplating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ this Holy Week, we might as well also contemplate the crucifixion of Mother Earth. But we must bear in mind that the high point of Christianity is not the crucifixion but the resurrection. The whole of creation, too, must rise in triumph. We cannot leave Earth to grovel and groan behind us.

Theologian and ecologist Sean McDonagh who spent years in the Philippines wrote in his book “The Greening of the Church”: “A Christian theology of creation has much to learn from the attitude of respect which Jesus displayed towards the natural world. There is no support in the New Testament for a throw-away consumer society which destroys the natural world and produces mountains of non-biodegradable garbage or, worse still, produces toxic waste…

“The disciples of Jesus are called upon to live lightly on the earth—‘take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics’ (Luke 9:1-6). Jesus constantly warned about the dangers of attachment to wealth, possession, or power. These in many ways are what is consuming the poor and the planet itself…

“Jesus shows an intimacy and familiarity with a variety of God’s creatures and the processes of nature. He is not driven by an urge to dominate and control the world of nature. Rather he displays an appreciative and contemplative attitude towards creation which is rooted in the Father’s love for all that he has created. ‘Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap…’”

And so environmental groups are urging all Christian Filipinos to mark this Holy Week with “a willful embrace of low carbon lifestyles for the good of Mother Nature.” Too much carbon dioxide is the main cause of global warming.

The EcoWaste Coalition is promoting “a low carbon Holy Week” as Christians commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many will take the opportunity to go on a holiday, pilgrimage, or attend Holy Week rites in their home towns. But these activities, if not planned well, could add to the earth’s burdens.

Fr. Ben Moraleda of the Kaalagad Katipunang Kristiyano says that “the Holy Week is indeed an opportune time to go slow with crass
consumerism and to delight in simple and eco-friendly choices, which are low in carbon dioxide and good for the purse and the planet.”

“We all need to pitch in to stop the planet from further warming up. By making low carbon choices during the Holy Week and beyond, we cut our emissions, live up to our task as environmental stewards and uphold the sanctity of life,” says Fr. Glenn Melo of the Sustainable Agriculture Apostolate of the Diocese of Tandag.

Fr. Alfredo Albor of the Interfaith Bishops Care for Creation Foundation says: “We crucify Mother Earth when we ruthlessly exploit, pollute and diminish her capacity to sustain life. We resurrect her back to life when we adopt a lifestyle that is outwardly simple, yet inwardly rich and compassionate, and work for her wellbeing and protection.”

The EcoWaste Coalition is providing a list of ways that could lessen the use of fossil fuels and subsequently decrease carbon dioxide
emissions during Holy Week.

1. Aim for “Zero Waste” as you carry out your plans for Holy Week and Easter, ensuring that waste is kept to a minimum at all times through creative reuse, recycling or composting.

2. Reduce car use during the Holy Week in order to give the planet a breather. If you are able, walk, bike or take public transportation when you do the traditional visita iglesia on Holy Thursday.

3. If you must use your car, make sure the engine is tuned up and the tires are properly inflated. Remove unnecessary stuff from the trunk, do not overload, observe correct driving habits, and plan your trips for a cleaner, climate-friendly drive.

4. Abstain from expensive, high carbon holiday sprees and consider sharing the money saved as your Lenten offering to your favorite charities.

5. Do not litter. Keep the church premises, parks, beaches and recreational spots free of plastic bags, cigarette butts and food leftovers. Be mindful of the eco-creed "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time."

6. Cut back on plastic bags by having enough reusable bags for pasalubong and souvenirs from your out-of-town trips and pilgrimages.

7. When you do the Stations of the Cross under the heat of sun, have a handkerchief or a small towel with you so that you limit the use of disposable tissue paper. You save trees that way.

8. Bring your own reusable water jug so that you don’t need to buy water in plastic bottles.

9. Choose reusable and recyclable materials over single-use, throw-away stuff.

10. Keep all Holy Week events and rituals simple but profound and meaningful.

You can add more to the above. If you are not going anywhere, do some meaningful acts of mortification for Mother Earth in your own home. Cut down on your energy consumption by limiting your use of electrical appliances. Segregate your garbage, do composting.

More from “The Greening of the Church”: “The passion and death of Christ call attention to the appalling reality of suffering which humans inflict on each other and on creation. By causing others to suffer we persecute the body of Christ. We are beginning to realize that the parameters of the body of Christ are expanding to include not just Christians or all humans, but the reality of creation…

“Gradually it is beginning to dawn on many people that alleviating poverty, healing nature and preserving the stability of the biosphere is the central task for those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus in today’s world.”

Let us walk Jesus’ walk for Mother Earth and all of creation.