Carmel Caring for the Environment

June 18, 2015 |

ScarelThe following talk was delivered by Fr. Eduardo Agosta Scarel at UISG Rome on Climate Change.

Fr. Dr. Eduardo Agosta Scarel, O. Carm., from the Spanish Province of Castilla in Argentina gave a presentation on “Carmel Caring for the Environment” for the Integrity of Creation Working Group (ICWG) of the Union of Superior Generals (UISG & USG) in Rome October 11, 2010. He presented the scientific aspects of Climate Change in the first part of his presentation with diagrams, statistics and reports etc. In the second part he pointed out the spiritual roots of the ecological crisis, the ecological and personal healing path and proceeded in proposing some of the practical steps by which we can protect our mother earth. He is a member of the JPIC Commission of the Order, and he is also part of the Carmelite NGO.

Linking the Carmelite charisma and ecology issues does not seem to be an easy task. And it is not indeed. The Carmelite charisma is essentially based on three elements: prayer, community, and service. They appear like vectors that guide the transforming spiritual journey of Carmelites. In mathematics, three basic vectors result into a three dimensional space, or geographical framework, in which physical reality happens. Hence the spiritual spatial dimension of Carmelite charisma resulting from these elements is Contemplation. Thus the space of contemplation is not merely one of the elements of our charisma, but the one that dynamically unifies them all (RIVC 23) because it is generated by them. Therefore, equilibrated activities in each constituent element build up actually the contemplation of reality.

The overall reality in turn could be regarded through the Trinitarian dynamism: the Divine Power, the Human Beings and the (other) Created Things (both visible and invisible), in mutual interpenetration, being the Divine Power, the Spirit of God, the enveloping and sustaining source of reality. The contemplation of such reality is a call to discover or be aware of the empowering love of God within the human beings and the created things. And such a process requires a deep human being’s transformation through prayer, community and service that are the paths to contemplation.

On the other hand, Ecology (oikos-logie, in Greek) is the human activity that is concerned with a comprehensive management of Nature, i.e. the Created Things, and Humanity, in order to regulate the inner relationships (logiei) among them within the Earth, our house (oikos). The comprehensive management means to consider the often-forgotten Divine dimension as well. Thus, the expression ecological crisis, or environmental crisis, means that the comprehensive management of such relationships is at risk. Probably the crisis arises due to the implicit silence of the Divine dimension of reality that is present in the way we have been behaving in western societies. When we wonder about the roots of ecological crisis, they appear to be linked to the way that human relationships are developed towards the Divine and Nature. If so, the Carmelite contemplation can be regarded as the essential manner to recover the Divine dimension of reality. Hence prayer, community and service may approach each other to mend Nature.

The Spiritual Roots of the Ecological Crisis
Understanding the link between ecology and Carmelite charisma requires, first of all, to consider contemplation as a spiritual path that is intimately related to the process of consolidation of the human beings’ self-conscience, integrating both the dark and luminous sides of personality, within an endless journey towards the maturity of human affectivity, intellect and sexuality. These three factors of human life can be considered as parts of the human desire dynamism. Such integration needs and is performed for Carmelites within the ethical proposal of living a life in allegiance to Jesus Christ (CR 1), and all its consequences contained in our Rule of life. Thus it turns to be a spiritual itinerary towards a growth in humanity. God has created us for this: for an ongoing growth in humanity while keeping harmonic relationships with all the created things and God himself, according to the Trinitarian dynamism mentioned above. Secondly, we need to understand that the roots of the current ecological crisis are human and not merely technical or scientific ones, as if ecological problems were only a matter of deep changes in technology according to each environmental issue, i.e., it is not just to change towards new “clean” technologies. If it were so, we would not be speaking about crisis.

The current ecological crisis, evidenced by climate change, energy resource depletion, increasing breach between the richest and the poorest, among others, seems to have started with human being crisis. During the past last century very deep social changes have consolidated. Especially our conception of human beings has change noticeably. We passed from thinking of ourselves as human beings equipped with reason, self-sufficiency and freedom, from which we could make options towards what we considered the best and proper for each of us, towards a conception of human being eternally unsatisfied; prior to which the technology, as a caring nanny, comes to meet every need and desire. [more]
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