How does your faith help you in times of struggle, change, and new beginnings?
God’s faithfulness to, love for, and presence with all creation (and not just humanity) gives me hope in times of struggle. No matter how badly humans have ruptured the bonds of relationship, the promise of the Resurrection is still available to all.
How does your faith describe the relationship between all living things, the Earth, and the Divine?
The biblical creation narrative describes God creating humans (Hebrew “adam”) from the soil (“adamah”). This imagery powerfully illustrates our belief in the intimate and inseparable relationship between God, humans, and Earth. Choices that deny or disrespect those relationships throw off the balance; choices that honor the relationships can help restore.
What does your faith tradition teach about material consumption and simplicity?
Material wealth rarely leads to spiritual health. While material consumption is not inherently evil (we all need to consume to live), we need well-developed consciences that are able to distinguish between needs and wants, and are able to self-regulate on an individual level for the good of the whole.
In what ways does your community provide you with a guide to life?
The principles of Catholic Social Teaching provide an excellent guide for living in ways that honor our interconnectedness. My life in a religious community teaches me on a daily basis that my life is not simply my own: my choices, however small, affect others.
Which sacred texts most inspire you to act for change?
Psalm 65 (“the pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy…”) is a love song to creation. Romans 8:22 reminds me that it’s urgent for us to act for change: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” Finally, Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, provides me with much inspiration.
What have you done to improve the sustainability of your diet, transportation, and/or energy use?
About six years ago, I became a vegetarian. What began as a Lenten commitment (the common Catholic practice of abstaining from something during the 40 days leading up to Easter) has become integral to my spiritual practice. At first, my primary motivation was mindfulness of my brothers and sisters who go hungry. The more I learned about the social and environmental impact of meat production in the US (high carbon footprint, factory farms, exploitive conditions for both workers and animals, toxic waste, and more), the deeper my commitment became. In a society that glorifies excess and fears inconvenience, eating a plant-based diet is a simple discipline that keeps me grounded and reminds me to keep making choices that respond to the urgent cries of our Earth, our common home.
How would you describe the experience of making these lifestyle changes?
All things considered, the change has been only a minor sacrifice; it has been more rewarding than challenging. It has sparked meaningful conversations among the sisters with whom I live, and it has helped us to question how we are or are not responding to our current ecological crisis in light of our faith.What are others doing?