The first week of Advent: Daily meditations with Laudato Si’ | Earthbeat | National Catholic Reporter

I will share these meditations for each week during Advent. They will take the place of the usual posts on Mondays or Tuesdays. Use for daily prayer / meditation / spiritual reading.

Sunday, Dec. 1: God’s loving plan

The Genesis accounts of creation, the pope suggests, contain profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality … human life grounded in three fun…
— Read on

With Thankful Hearts

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this blog and earnestly work to keep sacred our Common Home. Thank you for all you do to live sustainably, to share with others, to work for the common good and to treasure Earth, this precious gift given us by our loving Creator. This Thanksgiving, allow your heart to overflow with gratitude for so many gifts freely given us by God!

Lake Winnebago, Black Wolf, Wisconsin

Cut the Lights!

Eco-inspiration: “An awareness of the gravity of today’s cultural and ecological crisis must be translated into new habits. (Growing) up in a milieu of extreme consumerism and affluence makes it difficult to develop other habits. We are faced with an educational challenge.” (Laudato Si, #209)

Eco-tip:  Did you know that lighting represents the biggest energy drain in the average American household and business? All the more reason to get into the habit of turning off the lights whenever you exit a room. Make the most of natural light during the day by placing mirrors and other reflective objects near windows to catch the light and diffuse it throughout your home or apartment. After dark, be mindful of the lighting you do use. Consider installing dimmer switches to regulate lighting.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Consider this week’s inspiration with care. In light of your reflection, ask yourself these two questions: What are my new habits? How do we teach for this new reality in our schools?

Battleship Rock, Jemez Springs, New Mexico, USA

Plant Trees Strategically!

Eco-inspiration: “Disinterested concern for others, and the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption, are essential if we truly wish to care for our brothers and sisters and for the natural environment. These attitudes also attune us to the moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us.” (Laudato Si, #208)

Eco-tip: Did you know that trees can lower your carbon output and your electric bill? Plant deciduous trees on the south and east sides of your home, and evergreen trees to the north and west. During the hot summer months, leafy green trees can block the sun and provide valuable shade to your house and air-conditioning units. In the wintertime when trees are bare, the warming rays of the sun will help heat your home, while evergreen trees will provide a natural barrier against cold northerly winds.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Practice “the rejection of every form of self-centeredness and self-absorption” this week! Notice when you fall into patterns of self-absorption. Notice when you make more self-centered decisions and when your decisions are more in line with the common good. What precipitates your choices? Take time to ponder and pray for the courage to shift toward greater focus on the common good! A lifetime goal, yes? A little practice this week will move you in that direction!

Battleship Rock, Jemez Springs, New Mexico, USA

Kill Weeds Kindly!

Eco-inspiration: “Purchasing is always a moral — and not simply economic — act.” (Laudato Si, #206)

Eco-tip: The sight of unwelcome weeds in flower and vegetable gardens can provoke violent reactions in even the most peaceful of gardeners. We yank weeds up by the roots and whack them into submission, but occasionally, we seek out something stronger. Fortunately, you can kill weeds kindly using a green thumb and nontoxic remedies. Pour scalding hot water directly on your weeds, or choose from dozens of all-natural weed management products that do the job without any harsh chemicals. Ordinary white vinegar mixed with a pinch of salt and liquid dish soap zaps weeds without contaminating the environment, and it’s cheaper!

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: This week’s inspiration is Pope Francis quoting Pope Benedict XVI from his encyclical Caritas in Veritate. This week take the challenge to let this quote flash before your consciousness each time you stand at the check out counter! Remember, it is not about judgment. These reflections and actions are simple exercises in honesty and authenticity. As you wait to be checked out, gaze at your wares and ask yourself about the moral choice you are making as you buy the items. Clothes / shoes / cloth items: where were they made? Who made them? Is human trafficking involved? Slave labor? Meats / fish / etc.: Where does the food come from? Who labored to bring it from farm / sea to the grocer? Again, is there human trafficking involved? Gasoline / cleaning products / cosmetics and personal health products, etc.: Are they eco-friendly purchases? How toxic is this to my health and my children’s well-being? You get the drift. Simply ask the questions. What comes to mind?

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire, USA

Compost Organics

Eco-inspiration: “No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.” (Laudato Si, #205)

Eco-tip: Whether you live in a city apartment or house in the suburbs, composting your organic waste has never been easier. With a few simple steps, you can transform your old banana peels, coffee grounds, and yard clippings into humus, a substance rich in nutrients that gardeners refer to as “black gold.” Humus adds moisture and conditioning to soil, and encourages healthy growth of both indoor and outdoor plants. Use a pre-made compost bin, a black plastic garbage bag, or a homemade receptacle, and start composting today! Find The Complete Guide to Composting online at

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: What helps you to remember your dignity as a son or daughter of God? In the midst of trial, conflict or misunderstanding, how do you grasp these “helps” so that you stay centered in conversations and continue the dialogue rather than giving in to angry words or defensive postures?

Farmers Market, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

Proper Toxin Disposal

Eco-inspiration: “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning.” (Laudato Si, #205)

Eco-tip: While we are considering “trash tips,” let’s take a closer look at toxin disposal. Harsh toxic chemicals do not belong in landfills, and you can do your part by disposing of them properly. Do not throw things like batteries, paint, wood stain, motor oil and oven cleaner in the trash. Instead, call your local waste management division and ask for guidelines regarding the disposal of your household chemicals. An alternative to calling is to download and consult the app RecycleNation. In the future, seek out nontoxic product alternatives that require no special handling or disposal.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Today’s inspiration speaks of hope for us all! At the close of each day this week, gently sift through what happened each day. Take special note of the times in which you “rose above” your natural inclinations or desires. Take note of the times you “chose again what is good.” Take note of all the “new starts” you made. Give thanks for generously responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit!

Farmers Market, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA