DAY NINE: HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ENERGY FORCE THAT MOVES, GUIDES AND SUSTAINS US
The Word of God: Gal 5:22-23
“22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
Rev 21:1 “1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”
Laudato Si’, 160
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations.
We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.”
The Spirit of God renews the face of the earth in and through us. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit, everything is recreated, and you renew the face of the earth.” The book of Acts of the Apostles finds a significant correspondence in this psalm, which is a great praise to God Creator. The Holy Spirit that Christ has sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who has given life to each thing are one and the same.
Our faith in creation tells us that the “garden” in which we live has been entrusted to us to cultivate and guard it with respect.
The action of the Spirit is and has always been to be our guide to the full truth, so that we can bear fruit and thus renew the earth. We are invited to experience the spirituality of ecology in which the gifts of the Spirit are of inestimable help.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are:
Piety – that enables us to experience reverence before the God of life, the Creator, whose love is in every creature.
Fear of the Lord – as a subjective experience of wonder, awe, before the beauty, the goodness and the truth that is discovered before our eyes.
Wisdom – that reveals ever deeper meanings to us about life.
Understanding – that opens our eyes to see that everything is interconnected in this world that surrounds us and of which we are part of, of its wave.
Knowledge – that allows us to discover that the universe reflects in itself and through us the image of the Creator.
Counsel – that allows us to practice justice with mercy and humility
Fortitude – that instills in us the courage, the strength, to act; many times with sacrifice.
Action: What role do the gifts of the Holy Spirit play in our faith and decisions?
Novena Credit: Carmelite NGO
DAY EIGHT: SPIRITUALITY OF CONNECTEDNESS – CONTINUED
The Word of God: Matthew 25:34-40
“34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Laudato Si’, 92
“Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”. We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality: “Peace, justice and the preservation of creation are three absolutely interconnected themes, which cannot be separated and treated individually without once again falling into reductionism”.
Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth”.
The concept of integral ecology would seem to connect two planes, one physical and the other spiritual. On the physical plane it means that the ecological integrity in a particular geography and social justice in that environment are two faces of the same coin. They are united because human beings and nature are part of interdependent and nourishing systems of life.
On the spiritual plane, integral ecology connects the exercise of care for the natural world with the exercise of justice towards the poorest and most disadvantaged people of the earth, who represent God’s option of preference in revealed history, those with whom he identified.
What ecological conversion is meant for indicates that my faith and my future (eschatological) hope of (wait for) “new heaven and new earth” may be seen as the same as the present moment in terms of the Gospel: “As often as you did this to my little ones you did it to me,” including creatures.
Ecological conversion is crucial for the present generation. Among the principal challenges before us, “climate change,” with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.
“We must be ever more acutely aware of the importance of accelerating and adapting our actions in responding adequately to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Action: How do we hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor? How do we perceive the connection between both physical and spiritual planes of ecology spirituality?
Novena Credit: Carmelite NGO
DAY SEVEN: SPIRITUALITY OF CONNECTEDNESS
The Word of God: Rom 8:18-23
“18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Laudato Si’, 70.83
“These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature Is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.” “The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.”
Jesus insists that evil comes from within human being, not from things. The gospel of John begins by indicating that, in the being of Jesus Christ, the mystery of God is introduced into the history, not only of humanity, but of all creation. God is inserted into the created cosmos, suffering its same fate. This introduction of God in his work not only reaffirms the positive value that God gives to creation, but also it includes his commitment to its destiny.
The effects of the resurrection of Christ determine a renewed configuration of the cosmos and of the human being. The whole of what is created now experiences that newness of being, although awaiting it final deployment with the “new heaven and earth.” From faith, the new creation does not consist in a mere restoration of the ecological balance. This new cosmic reconfiguration is extended in history through the Holy Spirit.
The new creation takes place in a tension between the definitive that is coming (the new man who is born) and the past that is being left behind (the old man who dies). In this process all creation participates yearningly. In some way, this present time in which Christians live in today is from faith, the time of transformation by the conversion to new realities by humanity and the entire cosmos. In that time, we can see the ecological awakening (and all ecological activity that accompanies it) as a way of expressing concretely our faith entrusted to the Resurrection.
Action: How do we allow the Holy Spirit to participate in our lives?
Novena Credit: Carmelite NGO
DAY SIX: OUR GREAT MOTIVATIONS OF FAITH
The Word of God: Matthew 6:19-21
“19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Laudato Si’, 222
“Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”.
A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfillment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little.
It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.”
The central message is the possibility of achieving a personal experience of love for God, that is realized through each creature and the poor.
The essential motivation for the care of nature and the care of living beings is nothing other than love.
Love makes possible “an alternative understanding of the quality of life,” for which “less is more.”
The force of love can be a source of joy and celebration because we are able to discover the gratuitousness that precedes, sustains, feeds and return (our feet) to the ground.
Conversion, above all, means a change in mentality, a change in the logic of thinking, given that “we need to realize that certain mindsets really do influence our behavior.”
We must question our underlying “logic” that prevent us from taking the ecological issues seriously.
We need to sow a spirituality of connection with everything created. The life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them in communion with all that surrounds us.
Ecological conversion involves a change in our ways of celebrating and praying.
Ecological conversion is a call to all to cooperative participation, creating networks, to educate new habits and virtues that help us to get out of the simplistic thinking; “every problem has a technical solution.”
Ecological conversion is based on the experience of an ecological spirituality whose central axis is integral ecology as a paradigm of social and environmental justice.
Action: What mindsets do I have that affect my ability to pursue ecological conversion?
Novena Credit: Carmelite NGO