Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has asked that Lent this year be used as a commitment to step up care for our planet.
Speaking this week ahead of the commencement of Lent on Ash Wednesday, Bishop Leahy - quoting Pope Francis on the fifth anniversary of his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ on the care of our planet - urged the public to “live Lent” this year with “our common home” as motivation.
Bishop Leahy’s Pastoral Letter for Lent titled ‘Listening to Nature’s Words of Love’ is available in hard copy in churches or online on the diocesan website www.limerickdiocese.org and will be read out at masses on Sunday.
“In a Netflix film titled ‘Pope Francis - A Man of his Word’, which I’d recommend as good watching during Lent, Pope Francis doesn’t mince his words when he says ‘if you ask me who is the poorest of the poorest of the poor, I would say Mother Earth. We have plundered her. We have abused her.’ A decade or more ago, Pope Francis would have been seen as an alarmist but the reality of where we are today is that popular opinion the world over agrees.
“In the past year, Greta Thunberg has captured imaginations and minds. Not just her. Many young people, including across our diocese, have expressed their concern over what is happening our planet. They are really concerned about the world they are inheriting from previous generations. In schools across the Diocese children are enthusiastic about the Green Flag awards. Young adults are searching for new ways to save our planet. There are young leaders on the environment emerging, brave and outspoken. It is important for those of us who are a little order to recognise that young people have the antennae of the future.”
He continued, “At times we might feel the crisis needs a greater response than anything we can do personally. Yet simple steps can make a difference such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights. I would ask that this Lent, people look deeper into their own responsibilities. ‘Think global, act local’ has never been more apt than it is today.”
Citing the three traditional ways of “living Lent” – Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving – Bishop Leahy said there are numerous options to that we can be lived this year through the lens of care for our common home.
“For instance, our prayer can involve taking time to contemplate God’s beauty in creation. In terms of fasting, this year we can recognise that this is not just about giving up some food. It is about how we live moderation in general. Life is more than simply accumulating things and pleasures. We are called to live with greater sobriety and simplicity. The example of nature teaches us. Plants use only the amount of water and nutrients they need to grow and flower. Christian love inspires us to live a healthy sobriety that set us free.
“The third area, almsgiving, must be about giving to and helping others. In Ireland we have the wonderful tradition of the Trócaire initiatives which I encourage. Trócaire has done great work in raising consciousness of the environmental issues so I would ask people to not alone donate this Lent but to read up on what it does and how we can help on an ongoing basis.”