Daily Prayer Guide


This February edition of our creation care reading program focuses on
the public statements of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and other
Orthodox patriarchs and hierarchs as they address our human duty to
care for God’s creation. These statements focus on how to extend the
life of the Church into the life of the world.

This theme of respect and holy regard for God’s creation has gone missing
in many Orthodox parishes. This reading program seeks to remedy this omission by highlighting the theological commentary from our top hierarchs as they instruct us in our Christian responsibility to take good care of God’s earth.

In this reading program we began by emphasizing two principled themes:
(1) “Let the Orthodox patriarchs become your teachers.” and
(2) “A reading a day to keep consumerism away.”
These two concepts – the intentional reading and absorption of the teachings by our top Orthodox hierarchs combined with a rhythmic daily focus on their public statements will strengthen Christian disciples so that the application of our theology becomes better integrated into the habitual behavior of daily life. This is how a person may grow in Christ – through a step by step process of prayer, reading and application. This lays a foundation for spiritual growth and transformation. Next, we add a third theme, a practical phrase often repeated by ship captains.
(3) “Steady as you go.” This phrase implies prayer, discipline, regularity, and steadiness of focus. If you wish to grow in Christ, intentionality is essential. The fathers teach that “tears” bring transformation. Tears mean that we mourn over past behavior and seek repentance, so strongly, that commitment to a more virtuous behavior and transformation result.

To facilitate this process, these readings from our patriarchs and bishops offer vision, theology, direction and motivation toward right living in a new and changing world. Besides, research and experience both show that the best way to embrace new behavior is to repeat and repeat a particular activity. In this way these readings offer a path to transformation. This allows us to absorb the mind of the Church as taught by our top hierarchs, and this in turn can reshape our thinking and behavior.
The Reading-a-Day editorial team
ES – EM – MR – FK

Saturday February 1, 2020 The Vision Which Connects What does preserving the planet have to do with saving the soul? It is commonly assumed that climate change and the exploitation of nature’s resources are matters that primarily concern politicians, scientists and technocrats…. Nevertheless, there are no two ways of looking at either the world or God. There is no distinction between concern for human welfare and concern for ecological preservation. The way we relate to nature as creation directly reflects the way we believe in God as Creator of all things. The sensitivity with which we handle the environment mirrors the sacredness that we reserve for the divine. Moreover, scientists estimate that those most hurt by global warming in the years to come, are those who can least afford it. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, the questions that will be asked of us at the final moment of accountability will not be about our religious observance but on whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, comforted the sick, and cared for captives. …
We are all in this together. Our planet unites us in a unique way. While we
may differ in our conception of the origins or purpose of our world, … surely we can all agree on our responsibility and obligation to protect its natural resources – which are neither limitless nor negotiable – for future generations. It is not too late to respond…. We could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Yet we can no longer afford to wait…. We have a choice to make. The time to choose is now. HAH, Warsaw, Poland, November 14, 2013 Q How is the saving of souls and the saving of the planet related?
What is human responsibility to God for the care of the earth?
What should guide Christians in our response to ecological problems?

Monday February 3, 2020 Compassion for Every Part of Creation To be cared for by God and to care for God’s creation entail having compassion for every living being and for every living thing. A compassionate heart, writes a seventh-century mystic, St. Isaac the Syrian: “Burns with love for the whole of creation – for human beings, for birds and beasts, for all of God’s creatures.” So we need to be compassionate, which is to say full of passion and full of concern for every detail of God’s creation. If we remain indifferent to humanity’s injustice against the earth and its resources, if we are not involved in the correction of the abuse we cause to our planet, then we do not properly reflect God’s care and concern for us and the whole world.
There are no excuses for our lack of interest and involvement. In our
age, the information is readily at hand. We know the facts; the statistics are
alarming. We can no longer remain apathetic to the cry of the poor and “the groaning of creation” (Rom. 8.22). As we well know, we are – all of us – so profoundly and intimately involved in and interconnected with each other’s destiny. So we must choose to care.
Moreover, receiving care obliges us to provide care. Caretaking is a circle:
of what we have received, we are called to give. We cannot hope to be nurtured by the environment if we do not nurture this environment in an intimate way. Therefore, in addition to compassion, we must recognize the importance of community. Far too long have we limited our understanding of community, reducing it to include only human beings. It is time that we extend this notion to include the living environment, to animals and to trees, to birds and to fishes. Embracing in compassion all people as well as all animal and inanimate creation brings good news and fervent hope to the whole world. HAH, International Conference, Istanbul, June 30, 2004 Q How can one acquire a compassionate heart?
What is the relationship between God’s care for us and our care for the world?
Why are humans obliged to care for the world?

Tuesday February 4, 2020 Humanity’s Place Between God and Creation Only when man accepts the teaching of our Church, that the Creator of all
things is God, can he love the whole of Creation and protect it. Man, as the crown of creation, has a special place on our planet. Man is invited by God to continue the work of creation, and simultaneously to look after it, to take care of it and to push for its advancement to whatever protects it as far as its survival is concerned. Hence God, in the first book of the Old
Testament, the book of Genesis, invites the first man, Adam, to give names to the animals and to all things. This symbolic Biblical reference shows precisely our responsibilities to the whole of God’s creation.
In order to respect God’s creation we must become conscious of the fact
that everything in the world belongs to God who created it. Consequently, we human beings are, under no circumstance, the proprietors of God’s creation. Rather we are people who accept his commandments – His management. Hence, what is created… leads us to awe and respect. We become conscious of the fact that we have a serious role to act for the protection of the environment, which we all owe to the Creator, that is, to God. For this reason, the ecological problem is connected to the problem of
abuse of God’s creation, which is “the house of God.” Hence, the whole of
creation, the entire environment, our planet and whatever exists on it is in this sense, God’s wider habitation in which there exists and lives God’s divine creation. Man, as an inseparable part of this wider habitation of God, must be protected in every way, his dignity and his human rights. The same applies to every part of creation. In this way, we show, special reverence to the entity of the Creator, the Three Divine Entities of the Triad God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. HE Archbishop Seraphim of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola,
Patriarchate of Alexandria and All-Africa, September 1, 2019 Q How does love of God relate to the keeping of the commandments? What does it mean that humans are the “crown of creation”?
How is God’s creation also “the house of God”?

Wednesday February 5, 2020 Responsibility for the World’s Future We, along with all the rest of humanity are responsible for the future of our
planet and for human life on this planet. … For example, scientists expect
that in the coming decades the average temperature on the surface of the
earth will increase by several degrees. This will result in the melting of polar ice, the raising of the sea level, greater rainfall and floods in colder regions, and more drought and deserts in warmer regions…. Accordingly, any incident of pollution in one region of the atmosphere is shared throughout the world…. The consequences of a polluting action
eventually will affect every person throughout the world, including the
responsible perpetrator, as well as a boundless number of innocent victims.
It is impossible for perpetrators to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions, and it is impossible to know who will ultimately be the victims of such actions. However, humanity as a whole is damaged by every such action….
Similarly, we would like to emphasize the worldwide effect of every
change in the spiritual attitude and conduct of each and every citizen in
regard to the environment; we must conclude that every effort to change
the attitude of citizens, even if it appears to have only limited efficacy,
has profound significance for the environment. HAH, Kathmandu, Nepal, November 15, 2000 Q Why should the people today care about the future of the earth?
How is pollution of the planet a spiritual issue?
What should a faithful Christian’s responsibility be in this situation?

Thursday February 6, 2020 Hope through Personal Responsibility Our effort over the last two decades has been to promote dialogue and
cooperation among various disciplines and faiths, contributing to global
awareness and discerning changes in attitude and lifestyle related to the
ecological crisis…. We are convinced that any real hope of reversing climate change and addressing environmental pollution requires a radical transformation of the way we perceive and treat our planet…. All of us are frustrated with the stubborn resistance and reluctant advancement of earth-friendly policies and practices.
Permit us to propose that perhaps the reason for this hesitation and
hindrance may lie in the fact that we are unwilling to accept personal
responsibility and demonstrate personal sacrifice. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, we refer to this “missing dimension” as ascesis , which could be translated as abstinence and moderation, or – better still – simplicity and frugality. The truth is that we resist any demand for self-restraint and self-control. HAH, Halki, Turkey, June 12, 2012
What does it mean to assume personal responsibility for the earth?
Why is there resistance to change that might improve our situation?
How do self-restraint and self-control relate to care for the planet?

Friday February 7, 2020 The Spirit of Liturgy
If we are guilty of relentless waste, it is because we have lost the spirit of
liturgy and worship. We are no longer respectful pilgrims on this earth; we
have been reduced to careless consumers or passing travelers.
How tragic it would be, for us all, if we were simply to pass through
the Amazon, like the indifferent priest in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
We must be responsible and responsive citizens of the world; we must be
careful and caring pilgrims in this land. If we are not in fact moved to
compassion, bandaging the wounds of the earth, assuming personal care, and contributing to the painful costs, then we might easily be confronted with the question, which of these do you resemble: the Good Samaritan or the indifferent priest?
The liturgy guides us to a life that sees more clearly and shares more
fairly, moving away from what we want as individuals to what the world
needs globally. This in turn requires that we move away from greed and
control and gradually value everything for its place in creation and not simply its economic value to us, thereby restoring the original beauty of the world, seeing all things in God and God in all things.
HAH, Manaus, Brazil, July 14, 2006
What is the key lesson in the parable of the Good Samaritan?
Why is wasting things of the earth wrong?
How does the liturgy encourage us to respect creation?

Saturday February 8, 2020 Responsibility for the Health of the Planet
Esteemed dignitaries and fellow participants, perhaps for the first time in the history of our world, we recognize that our decisions and choices immediately impact the environment. Today, we are able to direct our actions in a caring and compassionate way. It is up to us to shape our future; it is up to us to choose our destiny. Breaking the vicious circle of ecological degradation is a choice with which we are uniquely endowed, at this crucial moment in the history of our planet.
This conference is a golden opportunity for us to recognize the unique
role of every individual and every organization, in order that we may respect those more vulnerable in this situation, and in order that we may be prepared to assume responsibility for the health of our planet, an issue of critical significance and urgency.
HAH, Manaus, Brazil, July 14, 2006
How might your actions harm the earth and cause ecological degradation?
How might you respect or harm people far away through your actions?
In what ways by your actions can you respect people far away?

Monday February 10, 2020 The Divine Economy Every product we make and enjoy (from the paper we work with, to
processed meat and the soy beans that sustain its industry), every tree we
fell, every building we construct, every road we travel, definitively and
permanently alters creation. At the basis of this alteration –– or perhaps we
should characterize it as abuse –– of creation is a fundamental difference
between human, natural, and divine economies.
In the Orthodox tradition, the phrase “divine economy” is used to
describe God’s extraordinary acts of love and providence toward humanity
and creation. “Economy” is derived from the Greek word “oikonomia,”
which implies the management of an environment or household (oikos),
which is also the root of the word “ecology” (oikologia).
Let us consider, however, the radical distinction between the various
kinds of economy. Our economy tends to use and discard; natural economy
is normally cyclical and replenishes; God’s economy is always compassionate and nurturing. Nature’s economy is profoundly violated by our wasteful economy, which in turn constitutes a direct offence to the divine economy. The prophet Ezekiel again recognized this abuse of the natural eco-systems when he observed: Is it not enough to feed on good pasture? Must you also trample the rest with your feet? Is it not sufficient to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? (34,18).
HAH, Manaus, Brazil, July 14, 2006
How is God’s natural economy different from the financial economy?
How can we bring God’s natural replenishing economy into our lives?
How might we apply the Prophet Ezekiel’s principle in our lives?

Tuesday February 11, 2020 Perspective on the Ecological Crisis from Russia
The ecological crisis compels us to review our relationship with the
environment. Today the concept of man’s dominion over nature and
the consumer attitude toward it has been increasingly criticized.
The awareness that contemporary society pays too high a price for
the blessings of civilization has provoked opposition to economic
egotism. Thus, attempts are made to identify the causes of damage
to the natural environment.
At the same time, a system of protection is being developed
and economic policies are being reviewed; technologies which are
power-saving are being created and waste-free plants which can fit
into the natural circulation [of the environment].
Ecological ethics are being developed and public awareness is
emerging that speaks against the consumer way of life, demanding
that the moral and legal responsibility for the damage inflicted on
nature be enhanced. This ethic is also introducing ecological
education and training and calls for joined efforts in protecting the
environment on the basis of broad international co-operation.
His Beatitude Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia,
“The Russian Orthodox Social Concept,” June 1, 2012 Q
What are the causes of damage to the environment?
How do we develop a vigilance for the preservation of nature?
What are environmental ethics? How do they help protect the environment?

Wednesday February 12, 2020 The Purpose of Human Existence The purpose of human existence is for us Christians to imitate the way of
existence of the Trinitarian God; to come to communion with this God
and to live eternally with Him in love. However, in order to achieve this goal, we must go through society
and love our fellow human beings. The way toward theosis (or
divinization) is ascetic discipline, which occurs through purification from
passion and the practice of love. Such ascetic discipline is expressed in
manifold ways, but its basic and fundamental way of expression is
For us Christian Orthodox, philanthropy derives from our unity
with God and consequently with all humanity. The unity of each person
with all humanity implies the acceptance that every human being is
entitled to participate equally in the divine gifts of creation.
HAH, Istambul, March 3, 2013
What are the implications of our human purpose in terms of society?
How may a person come to communion with God?
Why are you entitled to participate in the divine gifts of creation?

Thursday February 13, 2020 Our Original Privilege To imagine a world that functions in beauty and harmony, balance and purpose, in accordance with the overflowing love of God, is to cry out in wonder with the Psalmist, “How great are Your works, O Lord; In Wisdom you have made them all.” Our original privilege and calling as human beings lies precisely in our ability to appreciate the world as God’s gift…. Our original sin with regard to the natural environment lies – not in any legalistic transgression, but – precisely in our refusal to accept the world as a sacrament of communion with God and neighbor. We have been endowed with a passion for knowledge and wisdom, which open before us boundless worlds of the microcosm and the macrocosm, and present us with boundless challenges of creative action and intervention. … Then, we are able to embrace all – not with fear or necessity, but with love and joy. Then, we care for the plants and the animals, for the trees and the rivers, for the mountains and the seas, for all human beings and the whole natural environment. Then, we discover joy – rather than inflicting sorrow – in our life and in our world. Then, we are creating instruments of life and not tools of death. Then, creation on the one hand and humanity on the other hand, the one that encompasses and the one that is encompassed, cooperate and correspond. Then, they are no longer in contradiction or in conflict. Then, just as humanity offers creation in an act of priestly service and sacrifice to God, so also does creation offer itself in return as a gift to humanity. Then, everything becomes an exchange, an abundance, and a fulfillment of love. It is our sincere hope that our hearts may receive and return the natural environment to the Divine Creator with gratitude. It is our fervent prayer that our hands may minister to this divine gift of the environment in a celebration of thanksgiving. Amen.
HAH, Presentation of the Sophie Prize, Oslo, Norway, June 12, 2002
How is the world a sacrament of communion with God?
What does HAH say is our original calling?
What does HAH say is our original sin with regard to the environment?

Friday February 14, 2020 A Sacramental Relationship If the earth is sacred, then our relationship with the natural environment is
sacramental; that is to say, it contains the seed and trace of God. In many ways, the “sin of Adam” is precisely his refusal to receive the world as a gift of communion with God and with the rest of creation. St. Paul’s Letter to the
Romans emphasizes the consequences of the Fall, observing that “from the
beginning till now, the entire creation, which as we know has been groaning in pain” (Rom. 8.22), “awaits with eager longing this revelation by the children of God” (Rom. 8.19). It is from this fundamental belief in the sacredness and beauty of creation that the Orthodox Church proceeds to articulate the concept of transfiguration.
This emphasis of Orthodox theology on personal and cosmic metamorphosis is especially apparent in its liturgical feasts. The Feast of Christ’s Transfiguration, celebrated on August 6th, highlights the sacredness of all creation, which offers a foretaste of the final resurrection and restoration of all things in the age to come. The Homilies of St. Macarius underline this connection between the
Transfiguration of Christ and the sanctification of human nature:
“Just as the Lord’s body was glorified, when he went up the (Tabor)
mountain and was transfigured into glory and into infinite light …
so, too, our human nature is transformed into the power of God,
being kindled into fire and light” (St. Macarius, Homily XV, 38).
HAH, Utrecht, The Netherlands, April 24, 2014
What does it mean to see the world as a gift of communion with God?
In what ways do we inherit the sin of Adam and Eve?
How can we overcome that ancestral sin and find genuine communion with God?

Saturday February 15, 2020 Humans Have a Eucharistic Role in Earth The experience of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been one of continuity
and stability through centuries of global change. At one time, our
Patriarchate was co-terminus with the boundaries of the Roman Empire.
Today, as the 270th successor to the First-Called Disciple, Saint Andrew,
our domain is a ministry of spiritual leadership, but our Center is in the
same topos we have known from the Apostolic Age. Our mission embraces
Orthodox Christians on every continent….
In the teaching of our Church, nature is perceived as being full of
the glory of God, even though it groans with the rest of creation, awaiting
the revelation of our redemption (cf. Romans 8:22-23).
Humankind is seen as the nexus of creation, the point of
convergence that mediates the cosmos, which was created as “very good,”
for the glory of God.
Humanity has a meditative, and indeed, a eucharistic role in
exercising dominion over the earth. This is a far cry from domination,
and the exploitation which has characterized the technologically capable,
post-industrialist era.
HAH, World Affairs Council, Los Angeles, Calif, November 7, 1997
Why do we say that nature is full of the glory of God?
How do humans have a “eucharistic role” in their exercise of dominion?
What does this mean? How might you exercise this aspect of faith in your life?

Monday February 17, 2020 The Liturgy Teaches Us How to See The liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly of the Church, provides for us a
mystical basis for a broader, spiritual worldview. This worldview is neither a political plan nor an economic strategy. It is essentially a way of reflecting on what it means to perceive the world through the lens of the soul.
Seeing clearly is precisely what the liturgy teaches us to do. It enables
us to hear new sounds and behold new images. It creates in us a mystical
appreciation and genuine affection for everything that surrounds us. The
truth is that we have been inexorably locked within the self-centered confines of our own individual concerns with no access to the world beyond us. We have violated the sacred covenant between ourselves, our world, and our God and now this is being reflected around the world.
The liturgy restores this covenant; it reminds us of another way and
of another world. It provides for us another means of comprehension and
communication. The liturgy is the eternal celebration of the fragile beauty of this world. It is this fragile beauty that brings us all together as a global
community, but this fragility also makes the world susceptible to our actions.
HAH, World Health Organization, May 30, 2008
What can a person learn from the Divine Liturgy?
How does the Liturgy teach us how to see?
How does the Liturgy bring us all together?

Tuesday February 18, 2020 The True Nature of the Ecological Crisis
It is imperative that the true nature of the ecological crisis be understood.
The relationship between individuals or communities and the environment
can never be detached from their relationship with God. When man “turns
his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable
repercussions on the rest of the created order” (Message from Pope John Paul II for the 1990 World Day of Peace, #5).
Ecological irresponsibility is at heart a moral problem – founded upon
an anthropological error – which arises when man forgets that his ability
to transform the world must always respect God’s design of creation
(cf. Centesimus Annus, 37).
Precisely because of the essentially moral nature of the [ecological]
problem, it is proper that religious, civic and political leaders, alongside
expert representatives of the scientific community, confront the
environmental challenges….
Similarly, solutions to this problem will necessarily involve acts of
solidarity which transcend political divisions or unnecessarily narrow
industrial self-interests.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “Message before
HH Pope John Paul II,” Vatican City, May 27, 2003
Why is ecological responsibility a moral issue?
How can development happen and still respect God’s design for creation?
Why must solutions to this problem involve a solidarity in society?

Wednesday February 19, 2020 A Crusade for the Environment
Just how many of us examine the foods that we consume, the goods that we
purchase, the energy that we waste, or the consequences of our privileged
living? How often do we scrutinize the choices that we make, whether as
individuals, as institutions, as parishes, as communities, as societies, and even as nations?
More importantly, how many of our Orthodox clergy are prepared to
assume leadership on issues concerning the environment? How many of our parishes and communities are prepared to materialize the knowledge that we have accumulated by practicing ecologically-sensitive principles? In an age when the information is readily available, there is no excuse for ignorance or indifference.
Today, more than any other time, we are in a unique position. We stand
at a crossroads, at a point of choosing the cross that we have to bear. For,
today, we know the ecological and global impact of our decisions and actions, irrespective of how minimal or insignificant these may be.
It is our sincere hope and fervent prayer that in the years ahead, more
and more of our Orthodox faithful will recognize the importance of a crusade for our environment, which we have so selfishly ignored. This vision, we are convinced, will only benefit future generation by leaving behind a cleaner,
better world. We owe it to our Creator. And we owe it to our children.
HAH, Letter on the Day of Prayers for Creation, September 1, 2004
What does it take to assume leadership on ecology issues?
What is involved in helping a parish to “go green”?
How is society now at a crossroads, as HAH relates?

Thursday February 20, 2020 Custodians of Creation

We, as Christians, taught by the Holy Tradition and by the experience of the
Holy Church Fathers, link always the mentioned [conference] theme “Man –
Custodian of Creation” with the need of repentance. When man fell, due to his sin, he lost his identity. Because of his tendency toward transgression, man became weak and cannot find in himself strength to go back to his Creator.
Man accepts God’s love and becomes a being of communication, a being as
communion, improving, with all the Saints, his God-likeness. So man becomes the custodian of the creation which is created by the will of God for the only reason – to become one in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1, 22-23; 4,15). The human being is called to protect the work of God’s hands because the deeds of God protect [nurture] him. The creation needs for its existence God, as it cannot exist by itself. Man is searching for eternity and he is determined to care for the conjunction of unity and differences. Love
disables divisions, while the Spirit assembles all.
We are profoundly hurt by the divisions in witnessing the Christian
truth before the modern world which is yearning for spiritual direction and the meaning of the mystery of life. We are firmly convinced that the theme for the 20th International Conference in Your monastery is for the good, benefit and joy of all Christians.
His Beatitude Irinej, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgarde-Karlovci and Patriarch of Serbia, August 31, 2012
What does it mean that at the Fall humans lost their identify?
How are humans custodians of creation?
Why do you think there are divisions in the Christian world?

Friday February 21, 2020
Original Sin and the Environment

To imagine a world that functions in beauty and harmony, balance and
purpose, in accordance with the overflowing love of God, is to cry out in
wonder with the Psalmist, “How great are Your works, O Lord; You have
fashioned all things in wisdom.”
Our original privilege and calling as human beings lies precisely
in our ability to appreciate the world as God’s gift to us. And our
original sin with regard to the natural environment lies – not in any
legalistic transgression, but – precisely in our refusal to accept the world
as a sacrament of communion with God and neighbor.
We have been endowed with a passion for knowledge and wisdom,
which open before us boundless worlds of the microcosm and the
macrocosm, and present us with boundless challenges of creative action
and intervention.
HAH, Oslo, Norway, June 12, 2002
What is wonder? How can a person cultivate and encounter it?
What does it mean to refuse the world as a sacrament of communion?
How can the world become a sacrament of communion?

Saturday February 22, 2020
Learn from the Saints of the Church

It is crucial that we learn from the early Fathers and Mothers of the Church, that we embrace the mind of the early Church by immersing ourselves in the spirit of the Christian classics.
At the same time, we should turn our attention to the future, to the
age to come, toward the heavenly kingdom… an eschatological vision offers a way out of the impasse of provincialism and confessionalism.
HAH, Koympari, Crete, October 7 2009
Within the unimpaired natural environment, humanity
discovers spiritual peace and rest; and in humanity that
is spiritually cultivated, and that possesses the grace of God
and inner peace, nature recognizes its Lord and companion.
The Orthodox Church has always encouraged humanity to
respect the works of God, while the saints are considered
the best friends of creation.
HAH, Sydney Town Hall, Australia, November 26, 1996
What can we learn from the lives and writings of the saints?
What can Christians learn from nature?
Why are the saints called “the best friends of creation”?

Monday February 24, 2020
A Moral and Spiritual Problem

Climate change and environmental pollution affect everyone. While the data may be variously debated, the situation is clearly unsettling. To take but one example: dramatic increases of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere – largely due to fossil fuel burning – are causing global warming and in turn leading to melting ice caps, rising sea levels, the spread of disease, drought and famine.
The European heat-wave of 2003 could be unusually cool by 2060,
while the 150,000 people that the World Health Organization conservatively estimates are already dying annually due to climate change will be but a fraction of the actual number….
Religious leaders throughout the world recognize that climate change
is much more than an issue of environmental preservation. Insofar as it is
human-induced, it is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem. To persist in the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is no less tha suicidal, jeopardizing the diversity of the very earth that we inhabit, enjoy
and share. It has rightly been described as a sin against God and creation.
After all, a handful of affluent nations account for two thirds of global GDP
and half of all global carbon dioxide emissions.
Ecological degradation also constitutes a matter of social and economic
justice. For those who will most directly and severely be affected by climate
change will be the poorer and more vulnerable nations (what Christian
Scriptures refer to as our “neighbor”) as well as the younger and future
generations (the world of our children and of our children’s children). Those of us living in more affluent nations either consume or else corrupt far too much of the earth’s resources.
HAH, Aichi, Japan, September 20, 2005
How is climate change a sin against God and creation?
What is the means by which humans are the cause of climate change?
How can these problems be avoided?

Tuesday February 25, 2020
Acknowledge the Consequences of Our Choices

While many of us in more affluent societies unfortunately cannot comprehend the consequences of climate change due to our comfortable, if not complacent and complicit circumstances, the more vulnerable among us… fully understand the dire situation as they witness the rising sea levels consume their home and threaten their survival.
Still, we are all called constantly to remember that what we put into our
waters is as harmful as what we take out of the oceans. The way that we pollute our oceans – whether intentionally through non-biodegradable waste or else inadvertently through precipitation – is as destructive as our practices of overfishing and harvesting of particular fish populations in a manner faster than they can naturally reproduce.
Moreover, basic human rights are also at risk when we do not protect the
oceans. The way we defile the oceans is plainly reflected in the way we exploit their resources, which in turn is directly related to the way we treat our fellow human beings, particularly the more marginalized and less fortunate of our brothers and sisters.
Nonetheless, if we have created the dire conditions that we now face, we
are equally accountable for and capable of remedying the health of our
environment. Each of us can and must appreciate the way in which our
individual and collective lifestyles impact the environment; we can and must acknowledge the harmful consequences of our material choices; indeed, we can and must assume responsibility for positive and permanent change.
HAH, Message for World Oceans Day, June 8, 2015
What is required to respect the environment?
How can we remember to have a responsible relationship to the world?
Is a person responsible for unintended destructive impacts upon the earth?

Wednesday February 26, 2020
Preserve Creation from Harm

According to the Church Fathers, a merciful heart will not only seek the
heavenly kingdom and sense that it has no abiding city here on earth; it
also cannot tolerate any harm to animals and plants, even to the inanimate
elements to nature…. Such a spirit should characterize every Christian.
We do not limit our expectations to this world; nor do we abandon
our pursuit of the heavenly reality, namely the divine kingdom. Instead,
we recognize that the way that leads to the heavenly Jerusalem goes through the keeping of the divine commandments during our temporary sojourn in this world. Therefore, we are careful to keep the original commandment to preserve creation from all harm, both for our own sake and for the sake of our fellow human beings.
In any case, respect for the material and natural creation of God, as
well as indirectly for all people who are affected by the environment, reveals sensitivity in human attitudes and conduct that should be characteristic of every Christian.
HAH, Day of Prayer for the Environment, September 1, 1997
Which of the commandments about creation are we expected to keep?
Why does respect for creation reveal our attitude about God?
What specific things show respect for the creation?

Thursday February 27, 2020
Orthodox Christianity Faces the Modern World

Although the time we have been on the planet is insignificant in the context of the life of the planet, we have reached a defining moment….
Having struggled for centuries to escape the tyranny of hunger, disease,
and want, the technological advances of the last century have created the
illusion of us being in control of our destiny as never before. We have cracked the code of DNA, we can create life in test tubes, we can genetically modify crops, we can put men on the moon – but we have lost our balance, externally and within…. The explosion of knowledge has not been accompanied by an increase in wisdom. Only wisdom could make us realize that the Creation is an interdependent, undivided whole, not an assemblage of isolated, unrelated parts…. Even the smallest human intervention in the natural order by human action, can have – and does have – long term effects on the planet.
In addition to seeking balance between ourselves and our environment,
we need to find balance within ourselves, reassessing our values as well as
what is valuable. Let us remember, we all have our part to play, our sacred
responsibility to the future. And let us remember that our responsibility grows alongside our privileges…. Our decisions, personal and collective, determine the future of the planet.
As we… explore the challenges faced by local communities, let us search
for solutions from the perspective of Faith, mindful that we are all in the same fragile boat of life – that we are living defining moments in history, and that we are living them together in Truth, in Love, in Hope and above all, in Responsibility.
HAH, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 21, 2009
Has the modern world changed the way people relate to God? What is different?
How is wisdom different in comparison to knowledge? How is wisdom acquired?
How can Orthodox Christianity provide solutions to modern problems?

Friday February 28, 2020
Putting our Own Houses in Order

Africa is the continent least responsible for global warming, yet bearing the
most detrimental consequences, while also being the least equipped to cope with the changes. Harvest cycles in Ethiopia and other parts of eastern and southern Africa are shortening, leading to further food insecurity for the world’s poorest people. Elevated temperatures create incalculable increase in the range of vector-borne diseases and lack of clean water.
Populations affected by fatal diseases, such as malaria, schistosomiasis,
dengue fever and cholera, are rising dramatically. Even a conservative estimate indicates the number of people impacted by flooding could increase from 1 million (in 1990) to 70 million (by as early as 2080)….
Faith communities must first put their own houses in order; their
adherents must embrace the urgency of the issue. This process has already
begun throughout the world, although it must be expanded and intensified.
Religions realize the primacy of the need for a change deep within people’s
hearts. They are also emphasizing the connection between spiritual
commitment and moral ecological practice. Faith communities are well-placed to take a long-term view of the world as God’s creation. In theological jargon, that is called “eschatology.” Moreover, we have been taught that we are judged on the choices we make.
HAH, Aichi, Japan, September 20, 2005
How might Orthodox Christians embrace the urgency of the climate issue?
What does this require in specific terms and actions?
What does moral ecological practice involve?

Saturday February 29, 2020
Love God, Love the Creation

Our love for nature does not seek to idolize it; rather, our love for it stems
from our love for the Creator who grants it to us. This love is expressed
through offering in thanksgiving of all things to God, to whom we, having
been reconciled through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:19), enjoy also our
reconciliation with nature.
Without our reconciliation with God, the forces of nature find
themselves in opposition to us. We already experience consequences of
this and are subjected to them. Therefore, in order to avert the escalation
of evil and to correct that which may already have taken place, and in
order to suspend the penalty, we are obligated to accept the fact that we
need to be accountable consumers of nature and not arbitrary rulers of it.
We must also accept the fact that, in the final analysis, the demand placed
on nature to use its powers to destroy our fellow man, whom we might
consider useless, will result in our facing the same consequences.
HAH, The Phanar, September 1, 1998
We invite you to join… in pledging to protect the oceans as an act of devotion….If we love God, we must love His creation.
HAH, Stockholm, Sweden, June 7, 2003
How do we express our love of God in relation to the earth?
What does it mean to be “accountable consumers of nature”?
What is the relation between God and the creation?

Monday March 2, 2020
Sacrificing Selfishness

The natural environment was created by God to be friendly and of service to the needs of humankind. However, owing to Man’s original disobedience, the natural harmony and balance of the environment was disrupted and due to persistent disobeying of God’s commandments, it continues to disrupt, leading to total disarray and disharmony.
Therefore, the prayer that we offer up to the Lord for the protection of
the natural environment should first of all be a prayer for the repentance of humans, who through misjudged, thoughtless, and sometimes arrogant actions directly or indirectly provokes most, not to say all, natural catastrophes.
Our Lord who taught us the Lord’s Prayer, includes in it a promise that
accompanies a request “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us.” This has a broader meaning. Our prayer should be
accompanied by a corresponding sacrifice, mainly a sacrifice of our selfishness and arrogant pursuits, which demonstrate our insolent attitude towards the Creator and His wisely stipulated natural and spiritual laws. This change of attitude is called repentance. Only if our prayer to God for the protection of the environment is accompanied by a corresponding repentance, will it be effective and welcomed by God.
Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, let us reconsider our
lives and let us repent for everything we do mistakenly and against the wise laws of God, in order to be heard by Him, begging His kindness to maintain the natural environment, friendly and undamaged for humankind.
HAH, The Phanar, September 1, 2003
What is repentance?
How does it apply to our habitual behavior that involves earth and society?
Does society also need to repent of actions that defile the creation?

Tuesday March 3, 2020
Reuniting the Universe Under Jesus Christ

Cosmology is a form of knowledge which is given to us in Christ by the Holy
Spirit. “The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word,” wrote St. Maximus the
Confessor, “contains within itself the whole meaning of the created world. He
who understands the mystery of the Cross and the Tomb knows the meaning
of all things, and he who is initiated into the hidden meaning of the
Resurrection understands the purpose for which God created everything from
the very beginning.”
If this is so, it means that everything has been created by and for the
Word, as the Apostle says (Colossians 1:16-17), and that the meaning of this
creation is revealed to us in the re-creation effected by the same Word taking
flesh, by the Son of God becoming the son of the earth….
In this perspective the Fathers maintain that the historical Bible gives us
the key to the cosmic Bible. In this they are faithful to the Hebrew notion of
the Word, which not only speaks, but creates: God is “true” in the sense
that his word is the source of all reality, not only historical, but also cosmic
reality…. That is why, as St. Maximos says, we discover, or rather the Gospel
discovers for us, that on the one hand, the Word “hides himself mysteriously
in created things like so many letters,” and on the other hand, “he… expresses
himself in the letters, symbols and sounds of Scripture.”
HB Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, Zurich, Switzerland, March 10, 1989
What is Christian cosmology?
What is the ‘Logos,’ referring to what HB calls the Incarnation of the Word?
How does this relate to the created world?
Wednesday March 4, 2020
For the Sanctification of the World

The Church of Christ has had to cope with many problems which are
prominent in our contemporary world. The crisis facing ecology is one such
problem that has grave moral implications for all humankind.
Orthodoxy watches with great anxiety the merciless trampling down
and destruction of the natural environment caused by human beings with
extremely dangerous consequences for the very survival of the natural world
created by God.
In view of the present situation the Church of Christ cannot remain
unmoved…. The role of humanity as the priest of creation is clearly
shown in liturgical theology. We are able to reshape and alter the world.
The vocation of humanity, as shown in liturgical theology, is not to
dominate and exploit nature, but to transfigure and hallow it. In a variety of
ways – through the cultivation of the earth, through craftsmanship, through
the writing of books and the painting of icons – humanity gives material
things a voice and renders the creation articulate in praise of God.
We must attempt to return to the proper relationship with the Creator
and creation in order to ensure the survival of the natural world. We are
called to bear some of the pain of creation as well as to enjoy and celebrate it.
That means to perform Liturgia extra muros, the Liturgy beyond, or outside,
the walls of the church, for the sanctification of the world.
HG Bishop Irineu [Pop], Romanian Orthodox Church, Iraklion, Crete, 1991
Why is the Orthodox Church concerned about ecological problems?
How is the world sanctified?
What is the role of priests and parishioners in this task?
Thursday March 5, 2020
A Spirituality of Thanksgiving

In order to achieve a sacramental vision of creation, human beings are
called to practice a spirituality of thanksgiving and self-discipline. In
theological terms, we are called to be “eucharistic” and “ascetic” beings.
In this way, the Orthodox Church reminds us that creation is not
simply our possession or property, but rather a gift from God, the
Creator, a gift of wonder and beauty. From the moment of creation, this
world was offered by God as a gift to be returned in gratitude and love.
This is precisely how the Orthodox spiritual way avoids the problem
of the world’s domination by humanity. For if this world is a sacred
mystery, then this in itself precludes any attempt at mastery by human
beings. Indeed, the mastery or exploitative control of the world’s
resources is identified more with Adam’s “original sin” than with God’s
wonderful gift. It is the result of selfishness and greed, which arise from
alienation from God and an abandonment of the sacramental
worldview. Sin separated the sacred from the secular, dismissing the
latter to the domain of evil and surrendering it as prey to exploitation.
HAH, Moscow, May 26, 2010
What is the purpose of being thankful?
Why is it that the earth is never entirely one’s own private property?
How do Orthodox reconcile secular laws about private property with our theology?
Friday March 6, 2020
Responsibility for Future Generations

We should hand [the material world] … on to the
generations that come after us… enhanced and with
greater capacity for supporting life.

  • His Beatitude Patriarch +Maxim, Bulgarian Orth. Church, 1997
    In the years ahead, more and more of our Orthodox faithful will recognize
    the importance of a crusade for our environment, which we have so
    selfishly ignored.
    This vision… will benefit future generation by leaving behind a
    cleaner, better world. We owe it to our Creator. And we owe it to our
  • HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Day of Prayers for Creation, 2004
    Why should we today assume responsibility for future generations?
    What is different in the world today from the world of the past?
    What does this responsibility mean in practical terms?
    Saturday March 7, 2020
    The Whole World is a Living Sacrament

    Everything that lives and breathes is sacred and beautiful in the eyes of God.
    The whole world is a sacrament. The entire created cosmos is a burning bush
    of God’s uncreated energies. And humankind stands as a priest before the
    altar of creation, as microcosm and mediator. Such is the true nature of things,
    or, as an Orthodox hymn describes it, “the truth of things,” if only we have the
    eyes of faith to see it.
    We know that this vision has been blurred; the image has been marred
    by our sin. For we have presumed to control the order of things, and have
    therefore destroyed the hierarchy of creation. We have lost the dimension of
    beauty and have come to a spiritual impasse where everything that we
    touch is invariably distorted or even destroyed.
    Nevertheless, through the divine Incarnation our sight is once
    again restored and we are once more enabled to discern the beauty of
    Christ’s countenance “in all places of His dominion,” and “in the least
    of our brothers and sisters” (Gen. 25:40).
    HAH, Santa Barbara, California, November 8, 1997
    What is beauty?
    Why does HAH call the world “a living sacrament”?
    If the divine vision of creation is blurred, what is human responsibility for this?
    Monday March 9, 2020
    An Ecological Ethic is Necessary for Christians

    There certainly is an Orthodox Christian ecological ethic. It is an ethic that is
    not an option for Orthodox faithful. It is not a mere theological “specialty”
    for those who have academic and professional reasons to be interested.
    The Orthodox ecological ethic proceeds directly from our doctrine.
    Saint Cyril of Jerusalem said, “the method of godliness consists of two
    things – pious doctrines and virtuous practice.” Without any doubt, virtuous
    practice demands right attitude and action toward the environment, for our
    Holy Tradition demands nothing else.
    As such, the Orthodox Christian ecological ethic is ecclesial: it proceeds
    from our life in the Church, the Body of Christ … and it is ultimately
    comprehensible only within the context of the Church. Here is where the
    main distinctions exist between our ecclesial ethic and the ecological ethics we
    find in secular society.
    HE Metropolitan Nicholas of Amisso, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church,
    Antiochian Village, June 15, 2002
    What is our Orthodox ecological ethic? How would you summarize it?
    What is the Orthodox doctrine of creation?
    What sort of lifestyle should emerge from our Orthodox theology?
    Tuesday March 10, 2020
    An Ethic of the Environment

    We have reached a point in technological development where we must learn
    to say “No!” to technologies with destructive side effects. We are in dire need
    of an ethic of technology.
    In the Orthodox Church, we profess and confess that God’s spirit is
    “everywhere present and fills all things” (From a Prayer to the Holy Spirit).
    However, we must also begin to embrace a worldview that declares and
    demonstrates the biblical conviction that “the earth is God’s and everything
    in it” (Psalm 23.1), so that we may refrain from harming the earth or
    destroying the life on it. We have been gifted with unique resources of a
    beautiful planet. However, these resources of underground carbon are not
    unlimited—whether they are the oil of the Arctic or the tar sands of Canada,
    whether they are the coal of Australia or the gas in Eastern Europe.
    Moreover, with regard to nuclear energy specifically, we cannot assess
    success or sustainability purely in terms of financial profit—the disasters at
    Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011) have
    amply demonstrated the human, financial, and ecological cost. Nor, indeed,
    can we ignore the other problems of nuclear power, such as waste disposal
    and vulnerability to terrorist attacks.
    HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, April 26, 2016
    What is an ethic of the environment?
    What is the ethic and message in this passage?
    How might this ethic be applied?
    Wednesday March 11, 2020
    Our First Task

    We paternally urge all the faithful of the world to admonish themselves
    and their children to respect and protect the natural environment.
    HAH Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios, September 1, 1989
    Our first task is to raise the consciousness of adults who most use the resources
    of the planet. Ultimately, it is for our children that we must perceive our every
    action… as having a direct effect on the future of the environment….
    As individuals, we live not only in vertical relationships to God,
    and horizontal relationships to one another, but also in a complex web of
    relationships that extend throughout our lives, our cultures and the material
    world. Human beings and the environment form a seamless garment of
    existence; a complex fabric that we believe is fashioned by God….
    In the bread and wine of the Eucharist, as priests standing before the
    altar of the world, we offer the creation back to the Creator in relationship to
    Him and to each other. Indeed, in our liturgical life…, we celebrate the beauty
    of creation, and consecrate the life of the world, returning it to God with
    thanks. We share the world in joy as a living mystical communion with the
    Divine. Thus it is that we offer the fullness of creation at the Eucharist, and
    receive it back as a blessing, as the living presence of God. …
    We are called to work in humble harmony with creation and not in
    arrogant supremacy against it…. We lovingly suggest to all the people… that
    they help one another understand the myriad ways in which we are related
    to the earth and to one another. In this way, we may begin to repair the
    dislocation many people experience in relation to creation.
    HAH, Santa Barbara, California, Nov 8, 1997
    How do we work in humble harmony with creation?
    In what ways can you help others understand how we are to relate to the earth?
    Why do you think our first task is to raise the awareness of adults?
    Thursday March 12, 2020
    Man: A Curse or a Blessing on God’s Creation?

    How should Orthodox view the environment? Is it a great reservoir of
    untapped riches, waiting to be exploited for profit? Or is it an
    untouchable sanctuary, where nothing should be used? Should we view
    the environment as a living, almost divine being? Or is the environment
    God’s Creation, where man is set with a profound, symbiotic
    relationship, and a definite, holy purpose?
    It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of creation as a
    foundational concept. It means that we must accept the reality of
    every creature as meaningful.
    Nothing exists as a chance encounter. Each creature is created
    by God to exist, conceptualized from eternity and realized in time.
    God alone gives meaning to His Creation. In our Orthodox ecological
    ethic, we insist that man adopt a humbler, more honest and scientific
    outlook, in which he seeks to discern meaning in Creation.
    HE Metropolitan Nicholas of Amisso, Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church,
    Antiochian Village, June 15, 2002
    What is the Orthodox vision of creation?
    How important is our understanding of creation in Orthodox theology?
    What is the role of humility in our Orthodox worldview?
    Friday March 13, 2020
    Every Person a Priest of God’s Creation

    In the Orthodox Church, behind whose tradition lie long battles
    against ancient Greco-Roman paganism, a spirituality involving a
    deep respect for nature is strongly conditioned by the view that
    nature acquires sacredness only in and through the human person.
    This gives humanity decisive importance and responsibility.
    A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
    vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This
    means that material creation is not treated as a means of obtaining
    pleasure and happiness for the individual, but as a sacred gift from
    God which is meant to foster and promote communion with God
    and with others.
    Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human beings leads to
    forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the material world
    while keeping the human person at the center.
    HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production
    and Consumption,” April, 1996
    Why do Orthodox Christians respect nature?
    How is the human person a Priest of Creation? In practice what does this mean?
    How may creation serve as a means of communion with God?
    Saturday March 14, 2020
    The Care of Creation is Our Spiritual Task

    The human is on Earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a monetary
    profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future
    generations and takes care not only of his own profit, but also of the good
    of his neighbors and those far off.
    Moreover, the care and protection of the Creation of God in all its
    beauty and harmony is not only our practical task, but also a spiritual and
    religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of
    moral feeling.
    The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences
    through an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially
    dramatic in our century.
    Today we must understand the need to work together for the
    transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the
    condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet….
    HB Patriarch +Alexiy of Moscow and All Russia,
    Yalta, Crimea, September 24, 1997
    How is the care for creation our spiritual task on earth?
    What is necessary for a right caring of the earth?
    How do we correct wrong habits from the past?
    Monday March 16, 2020
    Programs of Practical Action are Needed

    Our attention must be given to developing programs of practical application.
  • HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 1994
    Tree-planting initiatives must be undertaken…. Groups of students can
    cultivate gardens, while others can care and tend to forest regions. Along
    with lectures, seminars should be organized intended on enlightening
    students concerning planting procedures, gardening and similar activities.
    Groups of children in secular, parochial and catechetical schools may
    adopt vegetable or flower gardens, forested regions, church compounds,
    abandoned properties, farm regions cultivated for the common good, or
    areas with natural beauty which they will care for on a voluntary basis.
    Their example can sensitize their parents and elders who can then be
    motivated to do likewise.
  • HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, 1994
    Let us begin here and now to plant trees, both material and noetic, which
    will perhaps require many decades before they grow to full maturity – trees
    beneath whose shelter in the future, not only we, but also our children, our
    grandchildren and great-grandchildren, will be able to sit with security and
    eucharistic joy.
  • HE Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, 2002
    Why should the faithful plant trees?
    What are some practical activities that you might recommend for action?
    How is care of creation best taught through practical programs?
    Tuesday March 17, 2020
    Sin Against the Environment

    The ecological crisis is a spiritual problem. The proper relationship between
    humanity and the earth or its natural environment has been broken with the
    Fall both outwardly and within us, and this rupture is sin. The Church must
    now introduce in its teaching about sin the sin against the environment, the
    ecological sin. Repentance must be extended to cover also the damage we do
    to nature both as individuals and as societies. This must be brought to the
    conscience of every Christian who cares for his or her salvation.
    The rupture of the proper relationship between humanity and
    nature is due to the rise of individualism in our culture. The pursuit of
    individual happiness has been made into an ideal in our time. Ecological sin is
    due to human greed which blinds men and women to the point of ignoring
    and disregarding the basic truth that the happiness of the individual depends
    on its relationship with the rest of human beings. There is a social dimension
    in ecology which the Encyclical [Laudato Si!] brings out with clarity.
    The ecological crisis goes hand in hand with the spread of social injustice.
    We cannot face successfully the one without dealing with the other.
    Ecological sin is a sin not only against God, but also against our
    neighbor. And it is a sin not only against the other of our own time but also –
    and this is serious – against future generations. By destroying our planet in
    order to satisfy our greed for happiness, we bequeath to future generations a
    world damaged beyond repair with all the negative consequences that this
    will have for their lives. We must act, therefore, responsibly towards our
    children and those who will succeed us in this life.
    HE Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, June 18, 2015
    What is individualism?
    What is environmental sin? Can you name some examples?
    Why should Christians care about the future?
    Wednesday March 18, 2020
    Love God’s Creation

    Regard yourselves as being responsible before God for every creature and treat
    every thing with love and care.
    HAH Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios, 1990
    The Orthodox Church proposes two central concepts, namely
    compassion and community. An essential element of caretaking is
    compassion, which is the very experience and expression of caretaking.
    To be cared for by God and to care for God’s creation entail showing
    compassion for every living being and for every living thing. “A
    compassionate heart,” writes a seventh-century mystic, St. Isaac the
    Syrian, “Burns with love for the whole of creation – for human beings,
    for birds and beasts, for all of God’s creatures.”
    HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, June 30, 2004
    Let us proceed with much love toward the natural world that surrounds us…
    In the end, people protect only that which they truly love.
    HB Archbishop Anastasios, Albanian Orthodox Church, 2002
    Why should we treat everything with ‘love and care’?
    How does one acquire a compassionate heart? What inhibits the heart?
    What benefits derive from a loving heart?
    Thursday March 19, 2020
    Our Spiritual and Religious Duty

    The human being is on earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a
    monetary profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future
    generations and takes care not only of his own profit, but also of the good
    of his neighbors and those far off.
    Moreover, the care of protecting the Creation of God in all its
    beauty and harmony is not only our practical task but also a spiritual and
    religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of
    moral feeling.
    The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences
    of an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially
    dramatic in our century.
    Today we must understand the need to work together for the
    transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the
    condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet….
    HB Patriarch +Alexey II, Russian Orthodox Church, Yalta, Russia, September 24, 1997
    What is our human purpose on earth?
    How do we achieve success in our sojourn on earth?
    What does the Orthodox Church say is our spiritual and religious duty?
    Friday March 20, 2020
    Proceed into Stronger and More Effective Actions

    We wish to add one simple observation which is already known to
    everyone, namely that the destructive deterioration of the environment is
    taking on multiple and threatening dimensions. Therefore, we must not be
    content with verbal protests, but instead we proceed to continuously
    stronger and more effective actions, each from their own part and position.
    For, pollution is dangerously spreading and rapidly increasing.
    Indeed, quite possibly, and God forbid, according to the
    calculations of the experts, quite probably, pollution will become
    impossible to control. We cannot remain idle.
    May the enlightenment of the Paraclete always shine in your
    steps and in your actions within the course of your research and study, for
    your own benefit and for that of all your fellow human beings and the
    whole natural world.
    HAH, The First International Symposium,
    Island of Patmos, September 22, 1995
    Why does pollution of God’s creation continue to spread?
    What is our responsibility to address this social form of sin?
    Why are we spiritually and morally responsible for this development?
    Saturday March 21, 2020
    A Moral and Spiritual Perspective

    Environmental protection is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem that
    concerns us all. The initial and crucial response to the environmental crisis is for each
    of us to bear personal responsibility for the way we live and for the values that we
    treasure and the priorities that we pursue. To persist in the current path of
    ecological destruction is not only folly. It is a sin against God and creation.
    HAH, Ecum Patriarch Bartholomew, Manaus, Brazil, July 16, 2006
    The care of protecting the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony
    is not only our practical task but also a spiritual and religious duty, a
    fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling.
    Today we must understand the need to work together for the
    transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of
    the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet….
    HB Patriarch +ALEXEY II, Russian Orth. Church
    Yalta, Crimea, September 24, 1997
    Theological reflection on anthropology and cosmology is even more important
    now because the problems of man and the environment with which we are
    confronted, are increasingly taking on a global dimension.
    In the Church of Antioch, we currently experience these particular
    problems in a very urgent manner…. Following the example of St. Maximos
    the Confessor, the prophet of the relationship between man and the cosmos,
    and the defender of the full humanity of the Word, we persist in proclaiming
    and living the love of Christ, which is capable of transforming every human
    endeavor. We do so within the effervescence of the Arabic and Islamic world,
    in spite of many wounds which have not yet healed.
    HB Patriarch +Ignatius IV of Antioch, September 8, 2012
    Why should Christians care for the earth and its future?
    How do we accomplish this?
    What is our goal in this activity?
    Monday March 23, 2020
    Excess Consumption as a Cause of Climate Change

    Global Climate Change has been on the Eastern Orthodox Christian
    agenda for over twenty five years. In 1989 Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios
    began to raise the alarm when he observed “scientists… warn us of the
    danger of the phenomena of the greenhouse whose first indications have
    already been noted….”
    In a letter to the 2013 Warsaw Climate Summit, Ecumenical
    Patriarch Bartholomew brought a further cause of climate change into
    focus: “Excess consumption.” Humanity’s reckless consumption of earth’s
    resources threatens us with irreversible climate change. Burning more fuel
    than we need, we contribute to droughts or floods thousands of miles away.
    To restore the planet we need a spiritual worldview which
    cultivates frugality and simplicity, humility and respect. We must
    constantly be aware of the impact of our actions on creation. We must
    direct our focus away from what we want to what the planet needs. We must
    care for creation. Otherwise, we do not really care about anything at all.
    In our efforts to contain global warming, we are demonstrating
    how prepared we are to sacrifice our selfish and greedy lifestyles. When will
    we learn to say: “Enough!”? When will we understand how important it is
    to leave as light a footprint as possible for the sake of future generations?
    HE Archbishop Seraphim of Zimbabwe, Patriarchate
    of Alexandria and All Africa, June 18, 2014
    Why is excess consumption harmful to the world?
    What is required to restrain consumption?
    What is our individual responsibility in restraining consumption?
    Tuesday March 24, 2020
    A Good God Gives Us a Good World

    The world was created “very good” in order to serve the mind of God and the
    life of humanity. However, it does not replace God; it cannot be worshiped in
    the place of God; it cannot offer more than God appointed it to offer. The
    Orthodox Church prays that God may bless this creation in order to offer
    seasonable weather and an abundance of fruits from the earth. It prays that
    God may free the earth from earthquakes, floods, fires, and every other harm.
    In recent times, it has also offered supplications to God for the
    protection of the world from destruction caused by humanity itself, such as
    pollution, war, over exploitation, exhaustion of waters, changes in
    environmental conditions, devastation, and stagnation.
    The Ecumenical Patriarchate does not however rely only on
    supplication to God to improve the situation. Starting from God, as it is always
    proper to do, the Ecumenical Patriarchate works intensely in every possible
    way to alert everyone to the fact that the greed of our generation constitutes a
    sin. This greed leads to the deprivation of our children’s generation, in spite of
    our desire to bequeath to them a better future.
    HAH, Kathmandu, Nepal, November 15, 2000
    In what ways can we see and know that the world is good?
    Why do people corrupt and pollute the world?
    What is the solution to our human tendency to corrupt and pollute the world?
    Wednesday March 25, 2020
    The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof (Part One)

    During the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, there
    developed a notion and then a theology of man’s dominance over and
    ownership of the earth. Even the creation narrative was re-interpreted as giving
    man a purely utilitarian ownership of the earth.
    While this desire to dominate the earth predates these two
    extraordinary developments in human society, it had previously been necessary
    only to accommodate oneself to a certain amount of self-control, such as
    irrigation. It was these two events, one on the level of the mind and the other on
    the level of our action, that made it possible for us to carry out such domination.
    Nevertheless, in the [Mosaic] Law we are taught that all the land
    belonged to God and that portions were divided among the tribes to be held in
    trust and used for their needs. And as the embodiment of their responsibility to
    cultivate an ability to respond, like the Lord, with care, God even went so far as
    to give a sabbath to the land, so that it might be rested and resuscitated. From
    this it is clear that God cares for the earth and desires that it be sustained. It is
    equally clear that the earth does not belong to us, rather we belong to it. Not
    only are we an integral part of the ecosystem, but at the end of our lives the
    earth will reclaim us and return us to her bosom.
    God made us from the dust of the earth and He also breathed into us
    the spirit of life. We are, therefore, both of heaven and of earth. In a manner of
    speaking, we share in the image of the two natures of Jesus Christ, and so are
    invited to cultivate the sanctification of our incarnate way of being.
    HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada,
    Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007
    How do you think we acquired a utilitarian view of the world?
    What is the purpose of the call to take dominion of the earth?
    How might we participate is sustaining the earth?
    Thursday March 26, 2020
    The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof (Part Two)

    The Apostle Paul tells us that all of creation fell together with man, and that it
    has been redeemed together with man….
    The purpose of man is not simply to worship God, but to serve as a
    point of unity for all that exists. Man alone consists in the spiritual, the
    material and the intellectual, and he is therefore a microcosm of the whole
    universe, both the visible and the invisible. We have the capacity through our
    worship to serve creation as God loves creation. “Ortho-doxa” is more than
    “right worship”; it also indicates the correct understanding of worship. Such
    ortho-doxa, or right worship with a correct understanding, makes it possible for
    us to serve creation with blessing and healing.
    There is no relationship with our Lord and Saviour where there is not
    blessing…. There is no cultivation, but only a stripping away (a kind of spiritual
    strip mining), no healing but only harm. Man should have fulfilled this vocation as
    a unifying element in nature, for he is not only its crown, but also the microcosm
    of creation. This vocation could only be fulfilled through unselfish love and the
    absence of egotism. This would have constituted a proper use of his energies.
    The fall constitutes a proclivity to habitually misuse our energies, not
    the loss of them. Christ healed this misuse through His perfect humanity, in
    whom perfect human nature is expressed, making unity with God and the cosmos
    again possible for human beings – a unity which Christ realized for us in His
    perfect humanity with complete divinity. Human nature, restored in Him, now
    has the ability to make proper use of its energies. This proper use is manifested
    in the Church, His Body, even if Church members often fall short of it.
    Understanding this is necessary for us to understand the complexities
    of the Incarnation of God. Jesus Christ as Incarnate Word recapitulated our
    nature and became the new Adam in order to correct our failures, complete our
    calling, fulfil our purpose and therefore deliver not only us, but the whole
    cosmos from bondage to corruption.
    HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada,
    Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007
    How much can you identify that humans lost because of the Fall?
    What in the concept of Ortho-doxy allows us to serve creation?
    How might we restore a right use of our human energies?
    Friday March 27, 2020
    The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof (Part Three)

    In the beginning – in the creation – man fit into the ecosystem in perfect
    balance. Had he truly acquired the knowledge of good and evil as a gift from
    God in the fullness of time, he could have maintained that balance. However,
    having accepted from Satan a counterfeit of that knowledge, man’s
    relationship with the cosmos became counterfeit.
    The fact that the human race has come so close to destroying the
    ecosystem upon which its life depends makes it clear that humanity has
    misunderstood not only its own Being, but its relationship with the earth,
    with the universe, with God, and even with itself. These misunderstandings,
    not forming ourselves on that which is foundational to creation – the
    Creator’s love and affection – always come hand in hand. We misunderstand
    both our own being and creation, including the whole of the universe and
    God, in one and the same act. This set of misunderstandings, born of selfcentered
    egotism, is a major aspect of what Christ came to earth to heal.
    It is important to remember that self-centered egotism is not
    something most people are able to see and understand about themselves, but
    it is deeply embedded in their whole way of putting their understanding of
    the world together. It is a fundamental misrepresentation of self, world and
    God and the only way we can untie this knot is by coming to know how it
    began and shedding the light of Christ on this unconscious orientation…
    HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada,
    Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007
    How much can you name of what humans lost because of the Fall?
    What in the concept of Ortho-doxy causes us to serve creation?
    What does it take to restore a right use of our human energies?
    Saturday March 28, 2020
    The Earth Is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof (Part Four)

    “Thou shalt love [cherish and nourish] thy neighbor
    as thyself” … and he, wishing to justify himself, replied,
    “and who is my neighbor?”
    This is the second half of Christ’s great “moral imperative.” It is often
    described as a “command,” but I would like to think of it as the truest form
    of morality. What is shocking to me is that so many people, many of them
    in positions of political and economic power, so callously disregard the
    welfare of their own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in
    their reticence to make a little lower profits or adjust our over-heated
    lifestyle, our so called “standard of living.” Yet, surely, our own children
    and grandchildren are our neighbors.
    Even if we turned to a radical ecologically sound lifestyle today, we
    would still leave the next several generations with a depleted agriculture, an
    insufficient supply of fresh water and large areas of formerly food producing
    land in a state of desiccation and ruin. The earth came to us as a sacred trust,
    and we will pass it on in such a condition. As a whole, our generation will not
    respond to the current crises in an appropriate manner because our entire
    socio-economic structure is based on harsh competition for short term profits.
    Our current “standard of living” in North America is based on a self-centered
    and egoistic measure. It does not reflect the lifestyle of the lower middle class
    and the poor, but that of the upper income levels in Canada and America.
    We ask what can we few Orthodox Christians do in the face of such
    huge problems. Aside from our prayers and our struggle for salvation, we can
    offer spiritual and social leadership in a sound process of education and action
    which is based in Scripture and the moral imperative of Jesus Christ, rather
    than the dreamy new-age romanticism that has dominated much of the
    ecology movement…. Glory to Jesus Christ!
    HE Archbishop LAZAR, Serbian Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada,
    Carlton University, Ottawa, Ontario, July 18, 2007
    Who may we count as our neighbor?
    What is deficient in the secular ecological vision?
    What can single individuals do to be part of the solution to ecological problems?
    Monday March 30, 2020
    A Universal Human Responsibility

    In our time, more than ever before, there is an undeniable obligation for all to
    understand that environmental concern for our planet does not comprise a
    romantic notion of the few. The ecological crisis, and particularly the reality of
    climate change, constitutes the greatest threat for every form of life in our
    world. Moreover, there is an immediate correlation between protection of the
    environment and every expression of economic and social life.
    For our Orthodox Church, the protection of the environment as
    God’s creation is the supreme responsibility of human beings, quite apart from
    any material or other financial benefits that it may bring. The almighty God
    bequeathed this “very beautiful” world (Gen. 1.26) to humanity together with
    the commandment to “serve and preserve” it….
    According to the theological understanding of the Orthodox Christian
    Church, the natural environment is part of Creation and is characterized by
    sacredness…. Thus we call everyone to a more acute sense of vigilance for the
    preservation of nature and all creation.
    HAH Ecum. Patriarch Bartholomew, The Phanar, June 5, 2009
    In our [Bulgarian] community the harmful exploitation of nature, the
    creation of God, is no longer tolerated. It is incumbent on us to use the
    material world which God has entrusted to us in a beneficial way [and]
    not to exploit it mercilessly. We should hand it on to the generations
    that come after us, not as a wasteland, but enhanced and with a greater
    capacity for supporting life.
    HB PATRIARCH +MAXIM, Primate, Bulgarian Orth. Church
    Varna, Bulgaria, September 26, 1997
    Why should humans should take good care of the earth?
    How do we develop a vigilance for the preservation of nature?
    What are some specific ways that we can do this?
    Tuesday March 31, 2020
    The Meaning of Christian Asceticism

    Asceticism has been associated with a devaluation of matter for the sake of
    ‘higher’ and more ‘spiritual’ things. This implies a Platonic view of matter
    and the body, which is not compatible with the Christian tradition…. Such
    types of asceticism, involving a devaluation or contempt of the material
    world, aggravates instead of solves the ecological crisis.
    An ‘ecological asceticism’ begins with deep respect for the material
    creation, including the human body. It builds upon the view that we are
    not possessors of creation, but are called to turn it into a vehicle of
    communion, always respecting its possibilities and limitations.
    Human beings must realize that natural resources are not unlimited.
    Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature can provide. The
    consumerist philosophy seems to ignore this truth. We encourage growth
    and consumption by making ‘necessary’ things which previous generations
    could easily live without. We need to reconsider our concept of quality of
    life. Quality does not need quantity to exist. A restriction in our use of
    natural resources can lead to a life that is happier than the endless
    competition of spending and acquiring more and more. Qualitative growth
    must replace the prevailing conception of economic development….
    Asceticism must become synonymous with qualitative instead of
    quantitative progress in society.
    All this would involve major redefinitions in political, economic
    and social institutions. Such a reorientation of our culture requires the
    involvement and cooperation of all the factors responsible for forming it.
    It would require a change in people’s deeper convictions and motivations,
    since no human being can sacrifice anything without a reason or motive.
    HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption, April, 1996
    What is Christian asceticism? Can you explain it?
    Why is ascesis beneficial and preferable to the consumerist way of life?
    What is the example that we receive from the life of Jesus Christ?
    Wednesday April 1, 2020
    The Great Challenge of Our Generation

    As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change affects
    everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce
    emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of
    our lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.”
    Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways
    of practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental
    principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship
    with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes and
    habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil
    fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and
    heating, as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the
    divine gifts of water and air.
    Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to open a
    fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation.
    HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19, September 1, 2019
    What is global climate change?
    Why is climate change a significant issue for Orthodox Christians?
    How might members of a parish address climate change?

From the monks of Mount Athos we are invited to pray the Jesus Prayer every evening at 10:00 PM local time to restrain the impact of this worldwide epidemic.

From His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew we have a special letter of guidance and direction that applies to us all. (See April 2, below).

From parishes small and large we learn of shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry and guidance for those who may be sick, stressed or facing some other need. What we don’t yet have, but what these readings from Church hierarchs are steering us toward is a genuine Orthodox Christian way of life, i.e., a Christian culture. What appears to be guidance on ecologically conscious living should also be recognized as a gateway into a whole Orthodox way of life. These writings from patriarchs and bishops provide vision and direction on our Christian responsibility to shape a lifestyle that is harmoniously connected to God and neighbor and harmless living. Their guidance gives direction for how to live in the modern world and the new earth that is now emerging. Yours in service to God’s good earth, EM – MR – EC – FK editors

Wednesday April 1, 2020 The Great Challenge of Our Generation

As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change affects everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of our lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.” Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways of practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes and habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and heating, as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the divine gifts of water and air. Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to open a fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation. HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19, September 1, 2019

Q What is global climate change? Q How might members of a parish address climate change? Q Why is this an important issue for Orthodox parishes? Reflection

Thursday April 2, 2020 Message Regarding COVID-19

The voice of the Church cannot be silent in such times. Our words… take the form we have learned through the ages: through the liturgy and through instruction, with encouragement and consolation…. We entreat you to respond faithfully and patiently to all the difficult but necessary measures proposed by health authorities and nations. Everything is being done for our protection, for our common good, to contain the spread of this virus. Our liberation from this distress depends entirely on our cooperation.

Perhaps some have felt that these measures undermine or harm our faith. However, that which is at stake is not our faith – it is the faithful. It is not Christ – it is our Christians. It is not the divine-man – but human beings. Our faith is a living faith, and there is no exceptional circumstance that can limit or suppress it. What must be limited and suppressed in these extraordinary circumstances are gatherings and large congregations of people. Let us remain in our homes. Let us be careful and protect those around us.

We see our neighbors suffering from the consequences of the virus, while others have already fallen and departed from among us. Our Church hopes and prays for the healing of the sick, for the souls of the departed, and for courage and strength to the families of the afflicted. This trial, too, shall pass. The clouds will clear, and the Sun of Righteousness will eliminate the deadly effect of the virus. But our lives will have changed forever.

This trial is an opportunity for us to change for the better. In the direction of establishing love and solidarity. Beloved children in the Lord, may the blessing of the Lord, through… the All-Holy Mother of God, accompany us in our journey, transform our voluntary isolation into genuine communion, and become our prayer and destination to appreciate the meaning of this, so that we may return to that which is true [and] pleasing to God! Have courage! And may God be with us! HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, The Phanar, March 19, 2019

Q How can this COVID-19 trial be an opportunity for us to change for the better? Q How might the coronavirus epidemic change our lives? Q What will it take for the changes we make now to endure into the future?


4 Friday April 3, 2020 Responses to the Coronavirus Epidemic

We are in a special situation while facing a great problem, which is not only our problem but the problem of the whole world – the appearance of the coronavirus. I invite all our faithful to be disciplined and to accept everything that is proposed and to implement that in their life for their own interest. Life is the greatest gift of God that we must preserve. Let us be disciplined, let us listen to what expert people suggest…. HB Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, Belgrade, March 15, 2020

Be courageous, my brothers! Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos gives us hope! God created our planet with so much love and He will not abandon it. Be courageous and stay strong! HB Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All-Africa, Metropolis of Memphis, at prayers for protection from the deadly coronavirus, March 21, 2020

It is time to seek refuge in the privacy of our homes, until the wrath of this plague is past. HE Teofan, Archbishop of Iasi, Metropolitan of Moldova and Bucovina, Iasi, Romania, March 18, 2020

Turn every house into a small church and pray, asking for the immense grace and mercy of God on mankind. Abide by the self-protection measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Our Church is with you and by your side. She loves all of you and prays for you all. We act responsibly because we love, not because fear knocks at our door. We are looking forward, praying, to Easter. And then the whole Creation will shine in the light of Resurrection, joy, hope. Take courage, my brothers, The Lord is with you. HE Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, March, 2020

After each liturgy, the faithful will not be allowed to kiss the cross [or] holy icons, which must be cleaned systematically with disinfectant solution. With regard to Holy Communion, the Holy Mysteries of Christ should be offered and the spoon should be wiped after each partaker with a cloth impregnated with spirits (with regular refreshing the impregnation)…. The priests, the abbots and abbesses of the monasteries must adhere strictly to hygiene rules and disinfect their hands during the day at least once every two hours…. HB Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus, March 23, 2020 Saturday April 4, 2020

Another Type of Fasting In an age of technology we should extend our fasting rules to include technology in order to gain spiritual peace during Lent. At least during the beginning of Lent, us let try to be less dependent on cell phones, social networks, and email accounts, lest the anxiety, which they throw at us, get inside us. Technology can be a blessing, but it also has a very subtle reverse dimension, because of the way it fragments our thinking to a large degree. We become so dependent on technology that it becomes very difficult for us to break away. I think it is necessary, in the world in which we live, to embrace such a type of fasting, a media quarantine. Fasting is a sacrifice and I think it is a sacrifice to give up our phone. It would be very beneficial to detach ourselves as much as possible from those things that do not bring us peace. HG Bishop Ignatie of Huşi, Sunday Sermon, Romanian Orthodox Church, March 1, 2020

Q Why do Orthodox Christians fast? Q What benefits emerge from fasting? Q How might a fast from technology become beneficial?


Monday April 6, 2020 Voluntary Restraint in the Use of Material Goods

We should consider every act through which we abuse the world as having an immediate negative effect upon the future of our environment in which our posterity will live. The way in which we face our environment reflects the way we behave toward one another. It reflects upon the way in which we relate to our children, those born and those who are yet to be born. Human beings and the environment form a seamless garment of existence. Humans are created as spiritual beings in which resides the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Our bodies are created from material nature, the dust of the earth. Interconnectedness between our nature and our environment lies at the center of our liturgy.

The asceticism of the Orthodox Church requires voluntary restraint regarding the use of material goods, leading to a harmonious symbiosis with the environment. We are required to practice restraint. When we curb our desire to consume, we guarantee the existence of treasured things for those who come after us and ensure the balanced functioning of the ecosystem. Restraint frees us from selfish demands so that we may offer what remains at the disposal of others. Avarice, which has its roots in the lack of faith and making of a god out of matter, we consider idolatry. Restraint is an act of self-control and confidence in God, but it is also an act of love. This willful asceticism is not only required of anchorite monks; it is required of all Orthodox Christians according to the measure of balance. Asceticism is not negation, but a reasonable and tempered utilization of the world. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, New York City, NY,November 13, 2000

Q How is our relationship to the environment related to our interaction with people? Q In what ways does the liturgy connect our nature to our environment? Q Why can asceticism be understood as an act of love? Reflections

Tuesday April 7, 2020 Facing a Global Climate Emergency

Climate change is a result of greed, inequality and wanton destruction of God’s Earth, the repercussions of which are felt by all, most especially by the poor. We are in the midst of a climate emergency…. The world is nowhere near meeting emission reduction targets and the latest IPCC report highlights that “only with rapid and far-reaching” transitions in the world economy, on a scale and at a rate without historical precedent, can the 1.5º climate [goal] be achieved. It is therefore a time to reconcile ourselves with creation through concrete repentance and urgent action. … During this critical and trying time, we acknowledge …this current crisis and affirm ourselves as prophetic witnesses. Jesus has given us a choice between God and mammon and for those who choose to obey, we have no choice but to pursue Justice (Micah 6:8). His Eminence Seraphim, Metropolitan of Zimbabwe and Angola, Patriarchate of Alexandria and All-Africa,, December 3, 2019

Q How is global climate change a result of greed and inequality? Q What does it mean that we are in the midst of a climate emergency? Q What is prophetic witness? Q How is justice a dimension of this witness? Reflections

Wednesday April 8, 2020 Unite to Combat Climate Change World

Environment Day, celebrated on 5th June every year, is the main method of the United Nations to make people aware of the worldwide environmental demolition and to attract the action of various political and human resources. The day’s agenda gives a human face to environmental issues. It empowers people to becoming active agents of sustainable and equitable development; to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes toward environmental issue; and to advocate partnerships which ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. World environment day is a popular event with colourful activities such as street rallies, bicycle parades, concerts, essay and poster competition in schools, tree planting as well as recycling and cleaning up campaigns. The theme of this year’s environment day is thought provoking “Your Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate Change!”

We in Kerala are worried about the weak and sporadic rains in this season of normally heavy and incessant downpour. It is explicitly felt that the rhythm and balance in nature is disturbed. Although climate change can seem complex, there are a variety of simple actions that individuals and communities can take to make a difference. A few of the actions which we can employ are energy conservation, education programmes to create awareness, planting trees, using less petrol vehicles and recycling projects. I exhort all Church members to observe the day with seriousness and learn to go back to the nature. A simple, natural and unsophisticated lifestyle is the best cure for these maladies. Let us join our hands to save our planet. Let us all unite to combat climate change and make this planet a commodious dwelling place for the posterity. His Beatitude Metropolitan Paulose Mar Milithios, The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, (aka The Indian Orthodox Church), March 22, 2010

Q How is global climate change a result of greed and inequality? Q What does it mean that we are in the midst of a climate emergency? Q What might you do in your community to address climate change? Reflections

Thursday April 9, 2020 “Sub-Creators” in the Image of God

We human beings… are called to continue and to extend the mystery of Christ’s Transfiguration on the mountain. As Metropolitan John of Pergamon has affirmed, “the distinctive characteristic of the human is not so much that we are a logical animal, but rather that we are an animal that is creative.” Endowed as we are with freedom and self-awareness, entrusted with the power of conscious choice – “sub-creators” formed in the image of God the Creator, living icons of the living God – we have the capacity not merely to manufacture or produce but to create, to set our personal seal upon the environment, to reveal new meanings within nature: in a word, to transfigure. Through our creative powers, through science, technology, craftsmanship and art, we enlarge the radiance of the transfigured Christ, revealing in all material things the glory that is latent within them. That is precisely what we are seeking to achieve through all our ecological initiatives. HE Metropolitan Kalistos of Diokleia, Symposium on the Adriatic Sea, June 9, 2002

Q What does His Eminence mean by the concept of “Sub-Creators”? Q How may we reveal the glory latent within material nature? Q How are these concepts part of the Church’s ecological initiatives? Reflection

Friday April 10, 2020 Our Huge Responsibility to Save our Planet

In order to respect God’s creation we must become conscious that everything in the world belongs to God who created it. Consequently, we humans are under no circumstance proprietors of God’s creation, but people who accept his commandments, that is, the rules of His management. Hence, we become conscious that we have a serious responsibility for environmental protection, which is associated directly with the respect, which we each and all owe to the Creator, that is, to God. Hence, the whole of creation, our planet and whatever exists on it, is God’s wider habitation…. Man, as an inseparable part of this habitation of God, must be protected in every way…. The same applies to every part of creation. In this way we show special reverence to the Creator. Under no circumstances may man create an opposition with his environment; that is, the wider space of nature in which he lives. We must not fall victims to the new times where unfortunately many people from inhuman arrogance and the unacceptable issues of colonization and the inconceivable lack of control over the industrial revolution and the unjust exploitation of man towards his fellow human beings, see nature as their adversary and enemy which they should besiege, pillage, conquer and rudely rape, changing her… into a huge cemetery…. HB Patriarch Theodoros II, Pope of Alexandria and All-Africa, Alexandria, Egypt, September 8, 2012

Q Can you summarize human responsibility to God for the care of the earth? Q What are consequences of failure to observe these responsibilities? Q How are the duties of a custodian different from those of an owner? Reflection

Saturday April 11, 2020 Responsibility to Steward the World

The world around us has changed. This is a simple, but true statement and it relates to a fact that cannot be denied. Advancements in medicine, science, and technology have reshaped how we live, work and interact in our daily reality; and in so many ways these advancements have benefitted and enhanced our earthly existence. However, we must acknowledge that they come with a cost. As we look around us, we notice that the economic engines that drive our country, as well as the world economy, are causing a greater number of people to live in large urban areas, rather than rural locations where they lived in the past. These large concentrations of humanity result in people living farther away from the sources of their food, greater consumption of natural resources, and the build up of pollution of our land, water and air. Moreover, with the world population now topping seven billion, one must wonder how many people our planet can really sustain. When we read the first and second chapters of Genesis, we see that the description of the earth is truly beautiful. This gift alone is reason enough for us to what to preserve what God has given to us, not to mention that it is the earth that sustains our physical needs. Beyond this, however, it is clear that God not only intended for us to be users of the planet, but He also bestowed on us the responsibility to be its stewards. HE Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, Open letter, August 2019

Q How do the advancements in technology change our lives? Q What is the difference between a user and a steward of the planet? Q Is population an issue for Orthodox Christians? Q Why? Reflection

Monday April 13, 2020 Our Spiritual and Religious Duty

The human being is on earth, not as a stranger who came to receive a monetary profit, but as a careful owner who cultivates the earth for future generations and takes care, not only of his own profit, but also of the good of his neighbors and those far off. Moreover, the care of protecting the Creation of God in all its beauty and harmony is not only our practical task but also a spiritual and religious duty, a fulfillment of the commandment of God and a trail of moral feeling. The Black Sea region has suffered from many sad consequences of an unreasonable selfish use of nature and this has been especially dramatic in our century. Today we must understand the need to work together for the transfiguration of this wonderful piece of land, for the improvement of the condition of the Black Sea, the pearl of our planet…. HB Patriarch +Alexey II, Primate, Russian Orthodox Church Yalta, Russia, September 24, 1997

Q What does it mean to live on earth and care for the good of future neighbors? Q Why is protecting God’s Creation our spiritual and religious duty? Q How can we Orthodox work together in peace and harmony? Reflection

Tuesday April 14, 2020 Respect and Holy Regard for Animals

For members of the Orthodox Church an icon is not to be regarded in isolation, simply as a picture on a religious subject…. Much more significant is the fact that an icon exists within a specific context. It is part of an act of prayer and worship, and divorced from that context, it ceases to be authentically an icon. The art of the icon is par excellence a liturgical art. If Orthodox icons depict not only humans, but animals, does this not imply that the animals have an accepted place in our liturgical celebration and our dialogue with God? We do not forget that, when Jesus withdrew to pray for forty days in the wilderness, he had the animals as his companions: “He was with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). What the icon shows us – that the animals share in our prayer and worship – is confirmed by the prayer books used in the Orthodox Church. It is true that, when we look at the main act of worship, the Service of the Eucharist, we are at first disappointed; for in its two chief forms – the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and that of St Basil the Great – there are no direct references to the animal creation. Yet, when we pray “for the peace of the whole world,” this surely includes animals. As one commentator puts it, “We pray for the peace of the universe, not only for mankind, but for every creature, for animals and plants, for the stars and all of nature.” HE Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, Iasi, Romania, January, 2019

Q What does Orthodox theology tell us about respect for animals? Q How are Christians supposed to view icons? Q What do icons teach us about how to view the world? Reflection