St Annes Catholic Church BUXTON
Tel 01298 23777

• Each Sunday for the past year or so, we have prayed together the Live Simply Prayer. The second section of which goes as follows: 
Creator God you gave us responsibility for the earth, a world of riches and delight. Create in us a desire to live sustainably, so that those who follow us may enjoy the fruits of your creation 
• I have been reflecting on this in preparing to give this address and will say a few words about it later– but first let me share with you a couple of stories which I think illustrate what I think is really at the heart of this lovely prayer
• Some 30 years ago I was in Denmark meeting in the course of my work the owner of a chemical works. I was already at that time interested in environmental issues and concerned with  the increasing level of pollution, so I was amazed and heartened to see during my visit the steps which his company were taking to reduce emissions, to save energy, to recycle waste etc in ways that were far ahead of any company I knew and well ahead of legal requirements. Over a drink I asked the owner -why he was doing all this. He went quiet and then told me that some years earlier he was watching the TV news with his 8 year old grandson when an item came up about a factory in Denmark polluting a river -the boy turned to him and said – “Your factory wouldn’t do that would it grandad” – he said that he just could not look the boy in the face because his factory was at that time just as bad – he vowed then that he would start the next day to meet the expectations of his grandson – from now on he decided that  “I have to leave the world for him in a better state than it is now” (or as our Live Simply Prayer has it that his grandson could  “enjoy the fruits of God’s creation”) And all these years later it is again the young who are challenging us to act with the school strikes on Friday
• I never forgot that man and when some years later when I was environment director of a large organisation he came to mind when I was holding a discussion with managers about why our company should take its environmental responsibilities seriously. We went through the usual points – improving the company image, reducing energy costs by better systems, reducing waste disposal costs etc when one young guy, from Malaysia I recall, said “But surely we do it because it is the right thing to do” 
• I don’t think either of these two people were Christians, yet by their words and actions they really increased my awareness that we had responsibilities for the coming generation and that care for the environment was not primarily a technological issue but was essentially a matter of morality   
• During the past 30 years or so that I have been active in environmental work, two things have come to the fore
Firstly the evidence that human activities are having a serious negative impact on the environment is ever more strong - notably in causing climate change and destroying much of our beautiful creation . We can no longer claim that we don’t know.  
Secondly : that concern for the environment is central to our life as Catholic Christians; it is not a peripheral interest for enthusiasts   
• The evidence is increasingly before our eyes. Many of you will have seen the Blue Planet TV programmes which showed us horrific pictures of the million tonnes of plastic polluting our oceans and destroying the wonderful creatures that live there. And this last year we have seen pictures of the devastating effects of climate change in causing unprecedented numbers of floods, droughts and forest fires throughout the world. Cafod representatives are reporting the suffering this is causing to so many people in all the countries in which they work. The effects are happening now – not sometime in the future. 
• So the picture is disturbing. And urgent action is needed. Climate change is the greatest crisis mankind has ever faced. There is a consensus amongst climate scientists that unless we make substantial and radical progress in the next 12 years future generations will face irreversible changes which will have grave consequences for life on earth. 
• But it is not too late. And Christians can and must be in the forefront of the response to the crisis. God created our world and as we are told in Genesis “He saw that it was good”
• I think it is fair to say that the Churches have hitherto not been notably active in calling for and demonstrating by their lives effective action in this area 
• But this is changing and most significantly as demonstrated by the Pope’s Encyclical in in 2015 -  Laudato Si. This wonderful message from the Pope can give us confidence that we can all do our part in helping to bring this about the urgent changes that are needed 
• Let me read you the opening words
 “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.
• As a parish, with our support for Cafod in their work for the poor of our world, and in our commitment to Live Simply we have I think made a good start in taking the Pope’s words seriously 
• But I believe we can do more especially on the environment. But faced with the enormity of the problems it is understandable that we often feel helpless. But remember – we are not being called on to personally save the world. We are however all called by God to do what we can in our own circumstances. Everyone can do something. 
• As you leave mass today you will be handed a document from the Salford Diocese whose bishop, John Arnold is responsible for the environment on behalf of the Bishop’s Conference. It is a very helpful guide to possible actions all of us can take and what better time than Lent to start. And above all keep praying for guidance from God about what we personally can do.
• Let me finish with a final word from Pope Francis. He says that we are not to be gloomy and oppressed by the size of the problem. Here are his concluding words from Laudato Si 
 “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for the planet never take away the joy of our hope.”  
So let us go forth to bring healing and joy to all creation; may God’s blessing be with you in your efforts.
Mike Monaghan - ST ANNES  BUXTON  -  MARCH 2019