I’ve been thinking a lot about how to approach these topics that I’m both interested in and feel are crucially important: environmentalism, Catholicism, veganism. Putting those three words together can be somewhat controversial. My approach is not arguing about whether it’s ‘right’ or ‘ethical’ to eat meat or whether environmentalism is just some ‘leftist conspiracy theory’ that should be ignored. My approach is simple: does it honor God?
Over 90% of meat in the United States comes from factory farms.*
Does the factory farm system of production honor God?
We increasingly value convenience in the form of plastic bags over conscientiousness. There are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean.**
Does using the oceans as a dumping ground honor God?
We have the opportunity to honor God every time we sit down to eat, every time we choose something to drink, every time we go grocery shopping. I think that’s pretty darn amazing.
I emailed ‘ask a monk’ over at Catholic Exchange about the St. Basil Prayer a few days ago. Basically, I just wanted to know more about it from the Church’s perspective and I also asked to be directed to more prayers about the earth, animals, etc.
Thank you Amy for this beautiful prayer.
In today’s world where nothing seems respected anymore and the great Mother Earth to whom God has given us stewardship over has been neglected and rejected as sacred, this prayer comes as a breath of fresh air.
I think in getting this prayer out to as many as possible you can begin by sending it to as many as you can and ask that whoever you send it to, to share this prayer
with all who they know.
Social sites today such as Facebook is a good tool and so many other ways. I will help at my end and again thank you so much for your great interest in this beautiful world God has created and the glorious wonders of all life forms that He has made .
Br. Sebastian, OSB
I was slightly disappointed with this response, but oh well! I shall keep on searching.
Last night I was browsing through some online resources looking for prayers and I came across this:
Prayer of St. Basil of Caesarea
Deeper Sense of Fellowship With All Living Things
O God, grant us a deeper sense of fellowship with all living things,
our little brothers and sisters
to whom in common with us
you have given this earth as home.
We recall with regret that in the past
we have acted high-handedly and cruelly
in exercising our domain over them.
Thus, the voice of the earth
which should have risen to you in song
has turned into a groan of travail.
May we realize that all these creatures
also live for themselves and for you,
not for us alone.
They too love the goodness of life,
as we do, and serve you better
in their way than we do in ours.
Wow! Isn’t that beautiful? As a vegan, I was blown away by finding this. I had to know more about this St. Basil! A quick trip to his Wikipedia page didn’t reveal anything to do with the earth, animals, good stewardship, etc. like I was expecting, so I hit the blogosphere, and thank goodness I did.
As it turns out this prayer is rather astonishingly not St. Basil’s at all. In a nutshell, this prayer did not emerge until 1910 and came from a Baptist theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch. Through a series of bad referencing amongst authors, it somehow came to be accepted that this prayer was indeed from St. Basil. Intriguing, no?
Not to fret though, I have discovered an incredible blogger, Philip Johnson, who writes Animals Matter to God. He is the one who really delved into the St. Basil prayer in a seven-part series. I have also discovered the full prayer composed by Rauschenbusch and many of his other prayers, which I quite like.
In the meantime, I think I’ll be sticking with the prayer above as the full prayer is rather lengthy! Philip Johnson has also given me some book recommendations on the subject of theology and animals, so I will be delving into those this summer and sharing my thoughts.