For hundreds of years, those who have been interested in the spiritual life have found that exposure to the beauty of the Earth is a way to make God powerfully present. Recently, Catholics and all Christians have become interested in the ecological movement and a new awareness of the transcendence of the Cosmos. Concern for the present ecological crisis has become more than a cause; it involves, too, a spirituality that supports activists and even simple lovers of nature to be caretakers of the Earth and stewards of God’s creation. Just as Christian spirituality focuses on one’s relationship with God in the Trinity, God is revealed to the person in diverse ways. Ecospirituality teaches that divine life extends to all reality, and the Cosmos is an integral part of God’s self-revelation. In ecospirituality, we explore our relationship with God in the context of our relationship with the whole Cosmos with God in the center as Creator of this masterpiece.
While the term, “ecospirituality,” is a relatively new one, the psalmists sang of God’s presence in nature and often called on the entire Cosmos to join in celebration: “Let the Heavens rejoice and the Earth be glad…” (Ps. 96) Theologians and contemplatives, past and present, have experienced the hand of God in the magnificence of the Cosmos.
Today, more than ever we need to learn about the depths of ecospirituality as we face the devastating issues of climate change, water pollution, acid rain, deforestation, hazardous waste disposal and the total annihilation of many plant and animal species. We need to deepen our realization that the human being is so connected to the Cosmos that destroying God’s creation becomes a moral, even a human-rights issue.
We pray that an increased awareness of ecospirituality will transform our minds and hearts and bring oneness and integration with one another and with our planet.
Spirituality has often been more concerned with the garden hereafter: that paradise of delight which corresponds to the kingdom of heaven. There are, I suppose, spiritual masters who would say that the gardens cultivated here on earth, which give us so much satisfaction, are only a pale image of the delights God has in store for those who love him. In this way they would try to orient our affection away from earthly gardens, and from earth itself, towards the hereafter, where alone can be found lasting happiness. On the other hand, there are many who have discovered that their spiritual life is bountifully nourished by exposure to the nobility and beauty of nature. God seems powerfully present in the quiet of forest, lakes, mountains, desert, ocean, or flower garden. These people also look forward to the garden hereafter, the new heaven and the new earth. However, they believe "the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one." The garden we cultivate here on earth is not entirely separable from the garden hereafter, though we rightly distinguish between them. The following pages will suggest that Catholic spirituality has something to learn from and contribute to the current ecological movement. Spirituality can profit from a new awareness of the numinous quality of the cosmos. As concern for the present ecological crisis grows, spirituality must be there to support activists in their work of gently shepherding all creation into "the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom 8:21). These tasks belong to what we may call "eco-spirituality." FABRIC OF THE COSMOS
In general, Christian spirituality deals with the dynamics of one's personal relationship to God the Father, through Christ Jesus, in their Holy Spirit. The human spirit is able, by grace, to know and love the triune God. God is revealed to the receptive human spirit in diverse ways, for the Creator has left traces of the divine image throughout the whole fabric of the cosmos. Divine life and activity extend into...