This third installment of our Passionist JPIC Retreat program is based on the theme of respecting the Integrity of Creation. The overall theological image that will be explored will through the Passion of the Earth and how our Catholic Natural theological tradition can inform us on how we should address the issues of environmental degradation.
The goal of this retreat will be to impress on the retreat community a sense of living the evangelical counsel of poverty/simplicity in a very intentional way that will get people to live in a way that respects the integrity of God’s great gift of creation. The program will start by an examination of our natural tradition and then take us on a contemporary tour of promoting sustainability or as some people have called it “Going Green.”
As with the other Retreat programs this one is designed with three sessions and they follow the formula of: Setting the spiritual and theological foundation Engaging in Social Analysis on the issue with an immersion experience Establish a form of ongoing commitment and action.
Again, This program can be adapted to the group that wishes to explore this topic. In facilitating this program the JPIC office will offer prayer resources that will add to this experience.
The first session is devoted towards establishing a Catholic theology and Passionist spirituality behind the ethic of promoting the “Care for the Earth.” This journey begins with the development of natural theology from the Hebrew Scripture s and the epistles of St. Paul the Apostle down through the early and medieval theological development and finishing with our own Passionist founder’s perspective on the contribution of creation. This section will then end with the current ecological theology that is being developed in our contemporary body of Catholic social teachings.
The next phase of this section will then take us on a tour of the ecological spiritual development by our own Passionist theologian Fr. Thomas Berry, CP. Through the video “The Great Story” and the use of some of his articles in “The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth” We will examine his concept of the “New Cosmology” and the relationship this has with Catholic social teaching.
The Sessions continues after a short break. At this point, because if the theological information that has been given, it is advisable to have the retreat community ask questions and clarifications regarding what they have heard so far. They ought to be given this opportunity after the break and before continuing with the rest of this session.
From here we now place our focus on the actual sufferings of the earth. We begin by reading and reflecting on an excerpt from the U.S. Bishops document “Renewing the Earth.”
Through the use of specific quotes from Catholic social teaching we will then examine some areas of environmental concern that the Church calls on us to be attentive to. These issues are: Toxic Chemical Pollution Global Warming & Climate Change Environmental Degradation Water Scarcity
At this point we move to contemplate Passionist spirituality again but this time through the lens of how it may inform us on being attentive to these issues. This Session ends with the discussion question “What will be the Our (Passionist) Story.”
This session will offer the retreatants a social analysis on the consumption tends and its effects on the environmental issues that were discussed at the end of the first session. This slide tells us the overall process for this session.
The session begins by having the retreat community take a quiz that is offered by the Center of Concern’s Education for Justice resource site. The quiz will question their consumer habits. In the reflecting on the results of the quiz we will examine social repercussions to these habits.
Our Scripture and Catholic social teaching will offer us some insight into how we should theologically reflect on the issue of consumption and the concept of respecting some resources, like water, as public commons that should be available to all.
After that we will continue doing social analysis by looking at statics and figures behind private consumption expenditures. Handouts regarding Catholic social teachings and Consumption expenditures will be offered.
This phase of session 2 ends with a 20 minute video titles “The Story of Stuff.” This award winning video is a popular education tool for getting people to further understand the implications of consumer habits.
After the video have the retreat community take a break. When they come back allow for questions and discussion. Then move towards a brief input on the concept of “sustainable development.”
Once you have adequately defined this term prepare the community for an interactive activity. The activity is called “The Development of Sustania.”
The premise is that the retreatants now find themselves as citizens of a small and poor island nation called “Sustania.” They are in the struggle of achieving the future development of this nation but the question is how will they go about this. Besides the local government they have to address the needs of a couple cultures in the area and the massive influence of outside financial institutions and multinational corporations. Each group will be represented and like good representatives they will have an opportunity to sit with their constituency to consider their options. In the end the Government must choose what form of development they will take.
After this interaction is over have the retreat community share their experience and some common questions that will be available in a slide. You may opt to have small group discuss their findings first and then to share with the large group. This of course depends partly on how many people are attending the retreat. This discussion will conclude this session.
The goal of session 3 is to move people to action. We begin this session with a scripture reflection where St. Paul the Apostle defines the concept of Christian freedom as a life of being at the service of one another.
From this reflection we will consider some contemporary perspectives on the traditional evangelical counsels as a model for living this free and simple lifestyle that Jesus is calling us to.
At this point we will consider the work of Fr. Dairmuid O’Murchu in specifically redefining the three counsels in a way that can address our modern situation. Specifically we will examine how we can reinvasion the vow of poverty into a vow towards mutual sustainability.
From this point we will adapt the program put together by Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP called Lent 4.5 as a commitment for living a Vow towards Mutual Sustainability.
In having the Retreat community explore this commitment we will share Fr. Mitchell’s suggestions for addressing the following lifestyle changes:
Christian Simplicity Consumption Food Water Energy Transportation
This session should end with a community conversation about integrating these practices into their own lifestyle. After the session the retreat ought to conclude with Liturgy that offers a commitment formula for people to make their own covenant of promoting Mutual Sustainability. The JPIC Office will be a virtual resource for this community . However the Retreat Center may want to encourage a formal participation of this group into their retreat life either as an ecological study group, An eco-justice committee, or whatever relationship makes sense with this group and the retreat center.
Living simply so others may simply live
Living Simply So Others
May Simply Live
A Passionist Journey on Caring
for the Earth and Christian Simple
Session 1. The Passion of the Earth
The Comeback of a Catholic Natural Theology:
Catholic Social Teaching on the Care for the Earth
The Contribution of Thomas Berry, CP
A New Cosmology
The Wisdom of the Cross
The Ecological Reality
The Passion of the Earth
What will be the Passionist story: A spirituality of
Penance, prayer and simplicity
Session 2. The Conscious Consumer
The Consumption Quiz
Consumerism and the
Looking at Private
The Story of Stuff
Session 2. Interactive Activity:
The Development of Sustania (a role playing exercise).
Goal: To begin to understand some of the complex issues
of sustainable development and how they work together.
Session 3. A Vow towards
• Lent 4.5: Action steps for walking in the
footsteps of Jesus
– Christian Simplicity: Live more simply so that
others may simply live
– Food: Buy and Eat our food responsibly
– Consumption: Reconsider our relationship to
Session 3. A Vow towards
• Lent 4.5: Action steps
for walking in the
footsteps of Jesus
• Water: Conserve and
Protect the sacred
Gift of Water
• Energy: Use energy
Driving is the human
activity which most