Ecological Conversion

One day our eldest daughter told us that she wanted to be a vegetarian, after watching the documentary Cowspiracy, which had caused her a strong impact. We didn’t react right away, but we realized that the subject was very important to her, so we tried to explore it further. We discovered that it would be enough to reduce meat consumption to 60-70 grams per day to generate a positive impact on CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. For this reason we decided together that at dinner we would only eat vegetables, legumes and fruit.

This choice not only helped us to save money, but also helped us to adopt healthier eating habits and to grow in us a new sensitivity to environmental issues.

It was the experience of Greta Thumberg, who alone converted her family to an ecological conversion and, beginning to fast before the Swedish parliament, gradually involved hundreds of thousands of young people and adolescents, all over the world, through the “Fridays for the future” initiative.

Regardless of what each of us may think, the effect of Greta’s work is undeniable and timely and can motivate for social ministry in our evangelization; aware that young people are not only our future, but a force that can change our present (Miguel Oliveira Panao in “Alèm-mar”, Portuguese missionary magazine, December 2019).

For personal and community reflection:

– What do you think of this youth movement that takes to the streets to ask politicians for laws that are adequate to safeguard creation and civil society ecological ways of life? Why?

– What is the aspect that provokes and motivates you to make life choices that respect nature, interpersonal relationships and cultural, social and religious differences?

– What is the message that the commitment to safeguarding creation addresses to our community?


Climate change is the visible and tangible effect before everyone’s eyes, both in the North and in the South of our planet. The emission of carbon dioxide, due to the indiscriminate use of fossil raw materials, produces the so-called “greenhouse effect”, with disastrous consequences for the environment and human life: increase in temperature, melting glaciers, hurricanes and typhoons, destruction of forests, drought and desertification of territories, destruction of biodiversity (experts tell us that up to 50 living species are destroyed on our planet every year); the constant threat to the survival of millions of people, forced to emigrate and to the upheaval of mother earth itself and of all species of the animal, vegetable and mineral world.

In the Second Vatican Council, the Church had emphasized that “individual and collective human activity, that is to say, the enormous effort by which men and women over the centuries have sought to improve their living conditions, considered in themselves, corresponds to God’s plan” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 34, 1966). But he also said that: “the greater the power of men, the greater is the responsibility of both individuals and communities” (GS, n. 34).

In his speech addressed to scientists and representatives of the Universities of the United Nations (Hiroshima, 25 February 1981) John Paul II raised the concept of the “righteous application” of science and technology, because – the Pope states – “we know that this potential is not neutral: it can be used both for the progress of mankind and for its degradation”; for this reason, some years later (Melbourne, homily at the Victoriam Racing Club, 28 November 1986) the Pope invited scientists to “use their research and technical capacity for the service of humanity”. Man cannot and must not forget that the ability to transform and, in a certain sense, to create the world through his own work, must always take place on the basis of the first original donation of things by God, nor must he dispose arbitrarily of the earth, subjecting it to his will, as if it did not have its own previous form and destination, given to it by God, which man can certainly develop, but must not betray (concepts much reiterated in the Encyclical Centesimus annus nn 34. 37; 1991).

Man, however, in this system of market economy and financialisation of the economy, rather than being God’s guardian and collaborator, has become a tyrant and predator of the goods that belong to all humankind. The plundering of natural resources and the destruction of ecosystems have generated poverty and exclusion of millions of human beings, highlighting the intrinsic relationship between nature and man, the environment and society. Everything is interconnected, affirms Pope Francis in the Encyclical Laudato si’; for this reason it becomes increasingly necessary and urgent to change this unjust system, which generates the culture of waste and the destruction of the common home.

Integral ecology, as the Pope proposes, becomes for the mission of Jesus’ disciples the new paradigm of reference; defending the environment to save humanity, promoting an ecological conversion (Laudato si’ 216-221).

The Synod of the Amazon (Rome 6-27 October 2019) together with two other events promoted by Pope Francis in 2020 follow the papal magisterium and propose an integral, pastoral, ecclesial, ecological, synodal, economic and educational conversion. The first event will be in Assisi in March: “The economy of Francis” in search of an alternative economic system to the neo-liberal system; the other in Rome in May: “The global compact on education” in search of common foundations with other religious leaders and operators in the university world, culture and communication for an education that leads to peaceful coexistence and solidarity among peoples. A challenging program that challenges our missionary presence on the various continents and that motivates us to be true Combonian missionary disciples, living the joy of the Gospel in today’s world through social ministry, as proposed to us in the General Chapter of 2015.

Further readings:

Gesualdi, F. (2009) L’altra via, Terre di Mezzo.

Costa, G. – Foglizzo, P. (2019) Peccato ecologico, un appello alla responsabilità, in Aggiornamenti sociali, n.12, pp. 797-804.

Centro Nuovo Modello di Sviluppo. (2016) Impronta maldistribuita.

Francis (2015) Laudato si’.


Psalm 104

1Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honour and majesty,
2wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
4you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.

5You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
6You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
7At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them.
9You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.

10You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
11giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
12By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
13From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth,
15and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the hyrax.
19You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
20You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
22When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
23People go out to their work and to their labour until the evening.

24O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
26There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

27These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
28when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

31May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
35Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!

Tips for personal prayer

Creation is the first act of God’s Love, the source from which being and life itself flows, especially in the creation of man and woman, made in His image (Gen 1:26-27).

As for the ten words of the law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, after the exodus from the land of slavery of Egypt, at the beginning of Genesis there are the ten words that reveal the goodness and beauty of God’s action in creation: Gen 1,

The biblical message of creation is fundamentally positive, before it was ruined by sin, and this is repeated 7 times: “God saw all that he had done, and it was very good” (Gen 1,

The same redemption accomplished by Jesus is a bringing back all the realities of creation to the initial plan, as Jesus reiterated to those who accepted the repudiation of women with regard to the union willed by God between man and woman: “in the beginning it was not so”. (Mt 19,4).

Jesus himself introduces us into the Father’s plan of love, using parables and similarities drawn from experience and daily life, highlighting the symbiosis between the divine and the human which symbolically reveal the beauty and grace of the other, in order to make visible the mystery of God’s will, that is, to “recapitulate in Christ all things heavenly and earthly” (Eph 1:9-10).

= The spirituality of integral ecology requires a contemplative gaze: can you grasp the presence and love of God in Creation? In what way? What does it mean to you?

= “Everything is interconnected”: what experience do you have of this truth? What responsibility does it involve as a person and as a community?

= What invitations to take care of our common home does the Spirit give you?


1. In an atmosphere of prayer and mutual listening, let us share in community the fruits of personal prayer.

2. Let us reflect together:

= What emerges from our sharing?

= What invitations is the Spirit making to us as a community?

= How can we respond, concretely and realistically, to these invitations?

= Our commitment, concrete and realistic, is ……

Change, as Pope Francis suggests, happens through small gestures and small steps, in daily life, for example by giving more attention to:

– The recycling of paper (LS 22).

– Not wasting a precious commodity like water (LS 27)

– Not overcooking and not throwing away unconsumed food (LS 50)

– Not abusing the use of air conditioners (LS 55)

– Paying attention to separate waste collection and product recycling (LS 192)

– Reducing the use of plastic material, plant trees, turning off unnecessary lights (LS 211)

Alongside these small gestures that can be made by each one of us, there are other initiatives that have a wider social dimension, which invite us to cooperate and articulate with other movements and associations, such as public transport, to reduce the use of private cars (LS 153).


Special attention must be given to the celebration of the Eucharist; first of all to the preparation of the environment and the altar.

The Third Canon of the Roman Missal helps us greatly to form consciences and nourish ecological spirituality. What is proclaimed at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer helps the assembly to understand that by pronouncing these words, one cannot remain indifferent to the destruction of biodiversity and the need for an integral outlook, capable of embracing at the same time the peoples of the earth and the whole universe.

Praise must be given in unison and we must become increasingly aware of the connection that exists between all living and inanimate beings, heavenly and terrestrial beings.

“Father most holy,

praise be to you from every creature.

Through Jesus Christ,

your Son and our Lord,

in the power of the Holy Spirit

you sanctify and make the universe live,

and you keep gathering a people around you,

that from one border of the earth to the other

offer the perfect sacrifice to your name.”

We also could: take to heart the particular circumstances of social and civil life; not linger in the use of votive masses, for example, during social conflicts, wars; for peace, for the development of peoples; for the sanctification of work. Special celebrations the time of sowing, after the harvest; for the elimination of hunger in the world; for migrants, for prisoners. We could have special celebrations in times of drought and famine to ask for rain; to ask for mercy and good weather, or against storms and floods. And again: for a grace received, for harmony, for family, for those who trouble us.

Ecological conversion leads us to celebrate our lives in the mystery of Christ, striving to combine faith and action, contemplation and passion in making visible the “new heavens and a new earth” (Rev 21:1).

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