Let Justice and Peace Flow | From the Organ Bench w/ Philip Jakob

Dear Friends,

This Friday, September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation marks the beginning of the Season of Creation which continues through October 4 and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology and founder of the Franciscans who bless our church of Sacred Heart with their presence.

This year we are called to ‘Let justice and peace flow.’ The prophet Amos cries out, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24), and so we are called to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity. So where do we little people start when it comes to such global issues? I suppose we could start on those elements we can control, over which we might exercise our care for creation. Since this year’s theme includes the word “flow,” we might start with that most valuable resource: water.

I heard recently that vast amounts of water are consumed in the cooling systems of data centers, which include cooling towers, chillers, pumps, piping, heat exchangers/condensers, and computer room air conditioner units, with only some of this water being recycled. Cloud-based servers and our social media are not as cheap as I used to think! You might want to investigate this further for yourselves, but apart from lobbying or writing letters there may not be much we little people can do.

We can make changes in our own lifestyles which do reflect our care for creation. If we regularly water our gardens or wash our cars in a season in which daily rainfall is almost guaranteed, then we are wasting water. If we run the shower for longer than we need to, or brush our teeth while running the water, then we are wasting water. And water is a God-given resource. Just “as the deer thirsts for the running streams,” (Psalm 42) so we also thirst for God in our lives and for a more just use of resources. However small our sacrifices may appear, they do serve to prevent us from taking for granted what we have by the gift of God, and they enable us to consider the plight of those for whom water ‘on tap’ cannot be a daily expectation.

In addition to considering our consumption of water, we might also have care over what we allow to enter the water system, and to concentrate on keeping the water ecosystem as clean as we can. Simple actions such as not pouring fat drippings or household chemicals down the drain, reducing use of detergent or opting for earth-friendly brand products, and minimizing the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides in the garden will all contribute to a reduction in environmental pollution.

A more contentious issue concerns our choice between tap water or bottled water. The reasoning behind using bottled water is primarily convenience but also because water quality in Florida, whilst still meeting the stringent Federal standards, is among the lowest of all the states. On the other hand, we also know the damage done to the environment and wildlife by increasing our need to dispose of plastics and we are learning that some of the plastic from the bottle can break down into the water. Not for nothing did India last year ban all single-use plastic bottles and that is a considerable risk for a country with serious tap water concerns! In so-called ‘first-world’ countries, many who have the financial wherewithal may choose to invest in a domestic filtration system or water softener which removes from our tap water some of the chemicals which still cause concern.

Mother Teresa, when asked how she had managed to change so many people’s lives, replied “one person at a time.” The assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero answered a similar question:  “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

I think it is the same with our lifestyles and the environment: once we have become conscious of the issue we begin to make positive changes, bit by bit, gallon by gallon, until “justice rolls like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Peace and All Good,
Philip Jakob
Director of Music

As Phil mentions, there are many ways we can embrace the ecumenical call of the annual Season of Creation. As a Franciscan parish, you’ll know that integrity of creation serves alongside justice and peace as key tenants of the Franciscan charism. The following are suggestions for how you can help ‘let justice and peace flow’ right here at Sacred Heart:

Laudato Si’ Ministry | Meets on the second Saturday of each month, discussing environmental topics.

Garden Ministry | Meets monthly to tend to the North Campus property and garden.

For more on the Season of Creation, view livestream prayer services, and read the 2023 guide, visit seasonofcreation.org.