FROM A NUPTIAL gig, I forced myself awake, euphoric albeit lacking in sleep. Aesop, my youngest son, after shooting the breeze with me, headed towards the door and left me to take my forty winks in peace. Shortly thereafter, energized by the nap, I hit the showers, grabbed a quick bite and dressed up for the first of the triduum Masses.
On the pulpit, Fr. Cris Pine (no relation to wonder woman) was inevitably standardized by his now second-nature “God is good” opener (and his attendant repartee with the congregation). Setting the tone of his talk (after the Mass), he prefaced his homily with lipunang punung-puno ng karahasan, propaganda war on drugs (pero sila pala ang kumukuha), gamit ang authority hindi laban sa pang-aabuso kundi para mang-abuso. Zechariah’s first reading reminds us that,” he continued, “at the end of the day, the question we should ask ourselves is “Anong karahasan ang iyong ginawa, sa kilos, sa isip, malayo ba? Dahil kung malapit, dapat iwaksi, sapagkat sa Ebanghelyo, sa lugar ng mga Samaritano, pinauna ni Kristo ang Kanyang mga mensahero upang ihanap siya ng matutuluyan ngunit dahil hindi Siya ka-vibes ng mga Hudyo, ipinagtabuyan Siya, like us who reject those who are not among us, tataasan ng kilay, like they did Christ. So His people asked if they will exact vengeance, apoy na tutupok, on them.” Jesus calmly said, “You don’t understand the spirit that’s engulfing you.” The moral, then, is if we recognize violence, we should avoid it.
Bro. Mark’s introduction of him freely culled from the back cover blurb of the fellow Franciscan’s book, “Living Word on Breathing Earth”. Lest this piece be biased by SVST Dean Danny Pilario’s review of the same, I kept myself from even going to page one thereof and promised to peruse it only as soon as I get to the end of this.
His talk, “Season of Creation,” he said, culminates with the Feast of St. Francis (on October 4), whose memory and advocacy are honored by the immortal “cries of the earth, cries of the poor”. The faithful are invited by the Church to celebrate the saint of ecology and his advocates of creation, they who are Franciscans by profession and we who, he hoped, are similarly inclined by heart. And he recalled the global climate strike staged just last September by 7.6-M people (without Pinoys), the biggest climate mobilization in history. Greta Thurnberg first became known for her activism in August 2018 when, at age 15, she began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on global warming by holding up a sign saying (in Swedish) “School strike for climate”. Then she was invited to the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Poland, where the world leaders listened to her utter, “How can you say you love us, your children, when you are not caring for our future environment. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Out of the mouth of a babe!
Changing together was the theme of that conference. Greta meant to wake up the world and said that, “We cannot cure the crisis if we do not treat it as a crisis”. She was right, of course, Fr. Cris agreed. Even the bible has signposts that point to man, created to subdue and dominate creatures, who thinks he is the crown of creation. Darwin would stir in his grave to know that monkeys in his evolution theory will no longer want to join our species because, walanghiya tayo sa kalikasan. We are special, yes, but only because of the responsibility for ecology God entrusted to us. The word “economy,” Fr. Cris repeated from a previous sermon, means “house,” which God built for us on the first three days; the occupants, us, He created on the second three. Instead of being stewards of that house, we messed it up. If we claim to love but do not care, we are fake.
The global scenario was again in the forefront of UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body tasked to monitor climate change. Unless measures are taken, the world’s heat will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, twice the impact of typhoon Yolanda that devastated Leyte of recent tragic memory. And that, rued the priest, is only a conservative estimate. Some of us might shrug, “Wala na ako noon.” “How selfish,” lamented Fr. Cris. This is exactly the mentality that Greta wanted to change. The attitude of not caring for the future of children like her. Studies say the Mall of Asia (MOA) will be underwater by 20 feet when sea levels rise because of the melting of the world’s glaciers. The Conference of Paris (COP) aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase. The period 1979 to 89 was a decade of missed opportunity; scientists already had the data and what remained was to calibrate them but the world leaders kept the information hidden because of greed for oil/money, which was what Greta has been espousing to keep fossil fuel in the ground. “But we didn’t act,” said Fr. Cris, “nakakahiya tayo sa mga unggoy,”
The global climate change has become a crisis and graduated to an emergency. Which is why Greta says we have to act like the house is on fire. Before it does go up in flames, was what she meant.
Going back to St. Francis, Fr. Cris explained that the saint changed the world’s mentality from feudal to communal. From-the-land impotent, motionless existence, to values transitioning to growth, improvement, success, he made headway. But the ruling class prostituted it and bought freedom and slaves. So he advocated the sine propio vow of Franciscan poverty. St. Francis even respected worms, for these wrigglers fertilized the earth, then free from fertilizers, until the commercial come-on of the industrial age. Which gave birth to the thankful slogan, “Huwag magpanic – use organic”. Let us help disseminate this earth-saving epithet.
Fr. Cris shared the three stages of why the planet changed: 1. The Greek philosophers’ dualism theory which categorized everything into black and white, beautiful and ugly (as opposed to the Vikings get-even mindset of eat till you burst); 2. The European epidemic in the 14th Century, or Black (bubonic) Death, which implied the wickedness of the world so the people turned away from it; and 3. In the 19th Century, we preferred synthetic to natural life. One of the offshoots of which are fish getting caught with plastic in their bellies.
Concluding, Fr. Cris solemnly extolled Pope Francis’ exhortation that ecological conversion is our challenge. Silently – and succinctly – capping the session most spiritually. Amen.