Eco Spirituality Group
Laudato Si – Five Years On:
‘That’s the wise thrush, he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!’ – ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’ by Robert Browning.
During these extraordinary times of isolation and separation from loved ones we have become more aware of the beauty of our world and the power of nature to heal our pain. There is time for reflection and contemplation that allows the beauty to shine in our hearts and minds. We have time to notice the flowers, the leafing trees and the loudness of the birdsong. These memories are worth storing and cherishing.
Of all the garden birds it is the song thrush which is one of the most accomplished of singers. The interconnectedness of everything in this world is represented in a small way by the role of the thrush in the garden: The thrush’s favourite food is the snail. It solves the problem of the shell by hammering it on a favourite stone or kerb. The broken snail shells are the telltale sign of where the ‘thrush’s anvil’ is. These shells are not wasted. They are eaten by smaller birds who need the calcium when laying their own eggs. In fact the bluetit, when laying, needs as much calcium as is in her whole skeleton. These smaller birds in turn control the caterpillar population when feeding their families. Science is continually discovering these extraordinary relationships of awe and wonder.
This makes us more aware of our responsibility towards the creatures with which we share this earth. If we poison the snails with chemicals we kill the thrush and the other birds have no source of calcium leading to them laying eggs with brittle shells. The caterpillar population explodes and this leads us to use more chemicals to control their numbers. Where do we stop?
If we can recapture our sense of awe and wonder for the world we share with other creatures then we will come to love it and who would want to harm what they love. The simple relationship between the thrush, the snail and the other creatures in our gardens is but a snapshot of the interconnectedness of all life on this planet. Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si- On Care For Our Common Home, was published in June 2015. About ten times in his letter ‘to all people of good will’ the Pope invites us to be aware of the awe and wonder about us. He states clearly and strongly of the Christian duty to creation as being ‘an essential part of faith.” (LS 64). Laudato Si is recognised the world over as being one of the finest documents concerning the environment and our care for our common home. For just about €5 it is well worth a read. -Thurles Parish Eco-spiritually Group.
Photo: A song thrush on a flowering hawthorn- by Eamon Brennan.
An Environmental Expo was organised by Domhan Glas (Holycross Eco-group) in Holycross Community Hall on Sunday 7th April 2019. There were twenty five stands getting the environmental message out there. Each stand had a particular message, from educational courses to making good choices in what we buy. Others promoted reduction in our consumption and our choices around single use plastic. All afternoon there was a steady stream of people entering and the atmosphere was cordial and engaging. The Expo was a marvellous success.
Thurles Eco-Spirituality Group had a stand with the message that small actions make a difference particularly for biodiversity. Their focus was about planting the garden with pollinator and wildlife friendly plants to support bees, birds and wildlife in general. As ‘each creature is a book about God’ we need to prevent the enormous loss of biodiversity which is the gift of the Creator to us and for us all to wonder at and appreciate. Helen Campbell and Tom Gallagher erected the stand on Saturday afternoon. Breeda Kennedy, Moireen O’Neill, Mary Daly and Mary Maher manned the stand during Sunday afternoon.
Thurles Parish Eco Spirituality Group was formed in 2015 inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home” The group considers appropriate responses that we as Christians might make in addressing the many challenges arising from climate change.
The Vision we have chosen for our endeavour is: “We care for the earth because it is God’s earth”
On Saturday 13th January Cabragh Wetlands was buzzing with two events happening simultaneously. The Camera Clubs had a day-long Southern Region competition and Thurles Eco-spirituality Group were hosting a Climate Reality workshop. The latter was conducted by Eoin Campbell who gave a powerpoint presentation on climate change and what terrible effects we are having on the planet. He also pointed to some efforts that are being made to help reverse the damage being caused to all habitats and life forms on the earth. Eoin used a presentation he acquired during his training as a climate reality leader under Al Gore. He quoted some very sobering facts about our negative effects on the Earth, our Common Home. We learned that we pump 110 tons of pollution into the atmosphere each hour. This causes the atmosphere to overheat leading to extreme weather events such as more violent and more frequent storms, excessive rain and drought, sea level rise and massive forest fires across the globe. Other facts that show that we have no time to waste in repairing the problems were the amount of plastics in the environment. Eight million tons make their way into the oceans each year leading to the death of fish and sea mammals. Turtles have been filmed eating the plastic thinking it to be jellyfish. The melting of the ice caps at the north and south poles and the rapid extinction of species are of enormous concern. Eoin pointed out that our government seems more hell bent on getting off the hook regarding the commitment they made in the Paris Agreement than applying the changes necessary to remediate the problems. This course of action will lead to huge fines down the road which the much squeezed taxpayers will have to foot.
Positive things are happening. There are more wind farms producing electricity and the rise in electric cars is welcome. The insulation of houses, the use of solar panels and the efforts at waste reduction all point us in the right direction. There are more jobs now in the renewable energy industries than in coal production. In the UK alone there are 110,000 jobs in renewables. The discussion which followed was lively and earnest.
Each person can contribute to the effort by cutting down on waste, by shopping locally and by growing some food. Even what we eat affects the planet’s health. Eating meat makes great demands on the resources of the planet and also contributes greatly to gas emissions. Change in lifestyle does not come easily and Eoin outlined his own family’s journey towards more sustainable living. Firstly they decided to move from the city. They eat meat once a week, grow enough vegetables for a year and raise their own chickens while living in a passive energy house.
Following refreshments participants took a ‘tour’ of the Cosmic Walk. This is a series of 10 creative sculptures that tell the story of Creation from 13.8 billion years ago to the present day. They are the work of Liz and Philip Quinn, Stonemad Studios, Holycross. The purpose of the walk is mainly to give a person the opportunity to reflect on the numinous world of which we are part. This was emphasised by Philip Quinn, Michael Long and Tom Gallagher who led the walk. Many people felt it was an uplifting, spiritual experience and look forward to returning in their own time to amble reflectively around the Cosmic Walk using the booklet printed for the purpose.
Eoin Campbell has been producing multimedia since 2004 when he completed his MSc in multimedia from Dublin City University. Focusing on the environment and nature, he has produced media for many clients in many formats including Friends of the Earth, ECOUNESCO, CoastWatch Ireland, The EPA, and many more organisations and businesses. In 2006 Eoin produced “The Powder Down TV Show” a 10 part TV series examining Climate Change. In 2015 he trained as a Climate Reality Leader in Toronto.
On Saturday 13th January Eoin will host a workshop at Cabragh Wetlands Centre. He will give the presentation on the most important crisis of our time, Climate Change. It will include a 20 minute power point, followed by a 20 minute discussion. Light refreshments will then be served.
Participants on the day will also be offered a guided tour of the new cosmic walk at Cabragh. This describes the story of the universe from the great flaring forth 13.8 billion years ago to the present day. It is made up of a series of ten big, beautiful sculptures, the work of artists Philip and Liz Quinn of Stonemad Studios, Holycross. For those who choose to do the guided walk suitable weather gear and footwear (wellies) are advised. Allow about 30 mins for the latter.
All are welcome to this free event. Donations to defray expenses will be gratefully received. Mark the 13th of Jan. in your diary! Venue: Cabragh Wetlands Centre. Time: 11am to 12 noon plus 30 mins for Cosmic Walk (optional).
Creation Time 2017.
St Francis is patron saint of ecology. His feast day was on Wednesday the 4th of October, so the following weekend our parish joined thousands of Christians worldwide by coming together to pray for creation. Members of the Thurles Eco-spirituality Group spoke at all Masses on our need to care for the earth. Inspired by the Pope’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ they reminded us all that St. Francis and indeed Pope Francis, himself, emphasises that ‘God’s eternal power and divinity has been made known through his works since the beginning of time.’ For this reason both of them appeal to us to protect Our Common Home – The Planet Earth. The Pope points out the connection between the poor and the poverty of the planet. As the planet gets poorer the poor suffer most, yet they are not the cause of the ecological crisis. When we think about what kind of a state we are leaving the world in for future generations then we will look at things differently. We will care more for the health of the soil, the waters, oceans and air. We must realise that the world is a gift which we freely received and which we must share with others now and into the future. Special Prayers of the Faithful and a post Communion reflection were recited at each Mass to praise God for the wonder of the natural world and to ask His forgiveness for the damage done by us to the beauty of the planet.
Photo: On the weekend the 7th & 8th October Mary Daly, secretary of Thurles Parish Eco-spirituality Group, was one of the seven members who spoke at Masses about the Pope’s encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ and on our need to care for all of creation.
Thurles Parish Eco -Spirituality Group highlighted International Earth Hour on 25th March. This is an annual campaign that brings attention to the effects of climate change by asking people to switch off non-essential lights for one hour on Saturday 25th March between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. The campaign was started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. This was the 10th Anniversary. Leaﬂets about Earth Hour with some eco tips were made available in both churches. The tips are simple and easy ways for all of us to do a little to reduce our carbon footprint.
Simple Actions for Climate Justice:
• Turn off lights when you leave an empty room.
• Switch off and unplug TV’s, chargers, laptops etc when not in use.
• Do not leave the tap running while preparing food or brushing your teeth.
• Buy locally produce food and plan your shopping to avoid wastage.
• Plant trees and shrubs.
• Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
• Encourage family and friends to do all of the above.
Creator God, you have generously blessed us with an abundance of gifts in this, your world. Help us to share in that generosity by living in a way that ensures that your gifts will continue to be available for present and future generations.
O God, ﬁll us with love and respect for the whole of Creation.
The group discuss elements of Laudato Si’ each month reflecting on Pope Frances’s encyclical letter.
One of the highlights of Lent 2016 was the planting of an Oak tree in the grounds of Bothar na Naomh Church to mark National Tree Week on March 6th. . We were delighted that Jason Rice, representing Trocaire, accompanied us on that occasion.
The unveiling and blessing of a stone plaque to commemorate the planting of this Oak tree was held after Mass on Sunday 27th November, supported by local parishioners.
Inscription on the stone plaque
‘Praise be to you, Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth’
The group provide appropriate prayers, with an environmental theme, to be included in the Prayers of the Faithful at Parish weekend Masses during Lent and on the Feast days of St. Brigid and St. Frances of Assisi.
Furthermore the group insert an ‘eco-tip’ in the Parish News Letter each month to promote awareness of care for the environment.
The group meets for one hour monthly from October- May in the Parish Centre Cathedral St.
Further information at the Parish Centre 0504 22229