Care of the earth and prophetic voices april 2017

Reflections on Earth Day & Pope Francis

April 24, 2017

Reflections on Earth Day & Pope Francis Encyclical "Care of OUr Common Home, the Earth"

Prophetic voices of Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, & Thomas Berry

This presentation will offer a brief history of how the human community has steadily over the centuries alienated itself from our home, the planet Earth. We will then explore our attempts to raise consciousness of these problems in the United States by the pioneers of the environmental movement leading to the proclamation of Earth Day in 1970 and on the global front, with the United Nations “Earth Charter” in 1987. We will look at some of the prophetic voices that have sought to infuse our thinking with theological, scientific, and mystical teachings, namely, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Thomas Berry, and culminating with Pope Francis encyclical on “Care of the Earth.” We conclude with the Wisdom and the wisdoms necessary to guide us into the future.


Introduction: overview, opening Prayer

Part 1. Human alienation from the earth

Part 2.  Coming home

a. Earth Day 1970 : Representative Pete McCloskey, Senator Gaylord Nelson

b. Earth Charter 1987 – 2000: Mikhael Gorbachev, Maurice Strong, Stephen Rockefeller

    Minor prophets of the above: Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964), John Muir (1838 - 1914)

Part 3. Prophetic Voices and Spiritual teachers of the Earth

Teilhard de Chardin, sj 1881 - 1995: Science, Evolution, Consciousness

Thomas Merton, ocso  1915 - 1968: Contemplation, Social Action

Thomas Berry, cp  1914 - 2009: Beauty, wonder, intimacy with all creation

Pope Francis, sj  1936-           : Cry of the Poor, Cry of the Earth

Conclusion: Guides to enter the Ecozoic Age: 4 wisdoms of Thomas Berry* * classical civilizations, science, indigenous peoples, women

Sophia, Divine Wisdom

“The earth is not a collection of objects but a communion of subjects.”

Select Bibliography

Part 1.
Thomas Berry. The Great Work. Bell Tower, 1999

Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme. The Universe Story. Harper Collins, 1992

Part 2.
United Nations Earth Charter:

Rachel Carson. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin, 1962;  A Sense of Wonder. Harper Collins, 1965

Part 3.
Teilhard de Chardin. The Phenomenon of Man. Harper, 1959;  The Divine Milieu. Harper, 1960 (American Teilhard Association)

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation. New Directions. 1961

Kathleen Deignan. When the Trees Say Nothing. Sorin, 2003 

Thomas Berry. See (books, films, audio) film: Journey of the Universe, PBS, YouTube

Richard Rohr. Center for Action and Contemplation (

Eco-ponderings – Contemplative take-aways

If we do not understand creation correctly, we cannot hope to understand God correctly. Thomas Aquinas

God lies in a maternity bed all day giving birth. Meister Eckhart

God is closer to me than I am to myself. Ibid

If you want to learn to pray, go to the sea and the sea will teach you everything. Thomas Merton

To tell the story of anything, you have to tell the story of everything. Thomas Berry

It must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist. and Any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity. Pope Francis Care for creation. Now included as a corporal and spiritual work of mercy