Augustinians of the Midwest are encouraged to mark the United Nations' World Environment Day, June 5, 2014, in their communities and ministries. The Augustinians invite and encourage all who identify with Augustinian spirituality and traditions to do likewise.
Stewardship of God's Creation is one of the major themes of traditional Catholic Social Teaching. The Catholic Church teaches that the goods of the Earth are gifts to everyone from God, and they are intended by God for the common good of everyone.
Stewardship finds its basis in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, which relates that God entrusted all creation to humans, who are to have dominion over it and care for it as stewards. (--See Gen 1: 28-32; Gen 2: 15)
The concept of Stewardship fits well with the Augustinian idea of communality of goods, one of the basic principles of St. Augustine's vision and spirituality of religious community life.
The Rule of St. Augustine says, "Call nothing your own, but let everything be yours in common... For so you read in the Acts of the Apostles that 'they had all things in common...'" (Acts 4:32,35) and "...whenever you show greater concern for the common good than for your own, you know that you are growing in charity."
The principle of Stewardship says that because the world is ours in common, all people have a responsibility to care for the Earth as stewards or trustees. We are more than just consumers and users of natural resources.
How we care for the common good of all through our respect for the environment is a measure of our stewardship, our charity toward others, and our respect for the Creator.
World Environment Day, celebrated each June 5, is one of the ways in which the United Nations works to make the world's population aware of the environment and to encourage people and governments around the world to take actions that promote the common good by promoting a healthy environment.
2014 World Environment Day Theme
Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level is the theme of World Environment Day for 2014.
The theme focuses on small island nations, which face many challenges. Many are remote. Their remoteness isolates them from the global economy and makes imported goods expensive. Islands are especially vulnerable to changes in climate which contribute to the formation of destructive storms and a rising sea level.
During 2014 and 2015, nations are working to develop a new world-wide agreement designed to slow the changes in climate which have accelerated in the past 100 years. The UN hopes that this year's World Environment Day theme will generate enthusiasm for this process, and will help to bring about a meaningful agreement to be approved in a special meeting in Paris in 2015.
"The pathway is clear...I call upon all to raise their voices and their ambition now, on World Environment Day in June and throughout the journey to that new universal agreement in 2015," Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said.
The theme of World Environment Day 2014 invites governments, industries, communities, churches, schools, and individuals to learn more about the causes of a warming climate and rising sea levels, to assess whether or not they are part of the problem without also being part of the solution, and to improve their stewardship of creation to ensure benefits, not only for small island nations and coastal regions of larger nations, but for everyone.
World Environment Day Prayer
- World Environment Day Prayer Services: Click here to download a PDF with suggested prayers from International Justice and Peace Secretariate, Rome
More World Environment Day Resources
From the United Nations
- What is World Environment Day?
- World Environment Day 2014 message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- World Environment Day 2014 message from Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Small Islands and Climate Change
- Take the World Environment Day Challenge: What Can You Do to Slow Climate Change?
From Other Sources
Adaptation to Sea Level change: Two minutes with Jim Toomey (video below)