Foster Ecological Spirituality

Ecological Spirituality recovers a religious vision of God’s creation and encourages greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude.

Foster greater ecological spirituality in your community with this Ignatian toolkit.

Reflect

It’s easy to think that the examen — that daily prayer St. Ignatius invites each of us to — is merely a review of the day. That’s important, yes, but crucial to the examen is a disposition of gratitude. We recognize that all we have — all we’ve experienced this day — is a gift from God. And we, ourselves gifts and gifted of the Divine, are invited to make a return to God — God’s people, God’s creation — in gratitude.

This disposition of gratitude is foundational to an ecological spirituality. We stand in wonder and awe, filled with thanksgiving for our God who is manifesting every element of creation — from molecules to planets, from chittering squirrels to crashing waves. We stand, overwhelmed by this great gift, this great beauty, and we may struggle to find our place therein. How are we invited to contribute to, to be in relationship with, this wonderful creation?

Sometimes, all we’re called to do is be present. Ignatius reminds us that the human person is created to praise, reverence and serve God. And God is in all things; all things make something of God known to us. In fact, that’s probably why our Jesuit pope called upon the wisdom of the Franciscan founder in preparing Laudato Si’.

St. Francis writes: “Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom you give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of you, Most High. Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful. Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through whom you give sustenance to your creatures. Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.”

The hymn reminds us that creation is of God, reflects God, is imbued with God’s presence, and yet also points us beyond to something great, to a God we cannot comprehend and who is also intimately close and desperately concerned with our daily lives, and with the good of our world.

Discussion Questions

With members of your household, community or institution, discuss the fruits of your prayers and how they might point you toward concrete action. Consider these reflection questions for guidance:

  • Walter Burghardt, SJ described contemplation as a “long, loving look at the real.” Which aspects of creation do I regard with a “long, loving look?” Which other aspects of creation might God be calling me to contemplate?
  • How does this “long, loving look” move us to act in response to the “cries of the earth and of the poor”?

Respond

Ecological spiritualities are practiced by many cultures and faiths around the world. As we seek to embrace a holistic ecological spirituality within our Catholic faith, we can learn a great deal from Indigenous spiritualities and other faith traditions. 

“When we go out to the land, our people have perfected a way of interacting with each other that is respectful to the land and respectful to each other but also fulfills some needs that we have,” writes Jeannette Armstrong, council member of the Okanagan Nation. “We impact the land: We can destroy it, or we can love the land and it can love us back.” 

Below are some ways you can incorporate ecological prayer, Indigenous wisdom and deep love for creation into your faith practices. 

Brainstorm your action

Listening to Indigenous Voices

The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Canada released this dialogue guide to promote right relationship with Native communities. Session Three discusses the connection between land and Indigenous spirituality.

Ecological Examen

Incorporate the Ecological Examen into your routine prayer practice.

Share your actions

Send us a brief email, telling us how you and your community are walking the path of renewal. We may feature your story on this page or on our Twitter, @JesuitJustice.

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