The Connection of Life in Spirituality and Ecology

A few years ago I made a retreat on the spirituality of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the brilliant Jesuit paleontologist whose work originally was censored by the Vatican for its progressive theme of the connection between science and theology. De Chardin wisely asked his secretary to hide his unpublished writings until after his death should the squalls of discontent dissipate between his work and Rome.

Happily, this occurred.

In the retreat we learned that de Chardin’s mind and soul were governed by a depth of insight that saw all of creation connected to the Creator and thus part of a web in which all creatures: plants, animals, organisms, stars, and even rocks, take our very existence from this Source. The lovely prayer from the Acts of the Apostles (17:28a) repeated at Mass on occasion says it eloquently: “In God we live, and move, and have our being.” The basic reasoning in de Chardin’s science is non-dualistic; it is a connective science in which we are all related. Some scientists say that de Chardin’s thinking and theories are the same as that of the scientists who created the computer and the internet. “To be,” wrote de Chardin, “is to be in relationship.” Not just to know about something or someone, but to enter into the being of this creature. Not just to be an acquaintance, but to be a meaningful friend.
Doing this we are “part of becoming.” We are moving toward a greater union called cosmogenesis. This relationship shows where we can grow and where we can contribute. It enlarges our soul as well as the existence of the of the ‘other’ whom we are embracing.

In his superb encyclical on the ecological crisis, Laudato Si, Pope Francis illustrates the connection of all life in his first argument: What is Happening to Our Common Home? He has paid attention to his Jesuit brother’s plea, enforced with solid science, and said unequivocally, that total conversion is needed to correctly see how we humans impact the health of our planet from the smallest microorganism to the largest dependent mammals. The many proposals offered as solutions must be examined carefully on a global scale, says Francis, but they must be examined!! They must employ scientists, economists, theologians, journalists, policy makers, legislators, leaders of governments.


In order to convert to a personal spirituality of ecology I need to learn more about the Earth and its inhabitants. I need to learn of my connection to all of creation. How am I connected to the well-being of sea creatures being displaced by disappearing coral or the suffering of manatees starving to death because climate change is killing their food in shallow ocean waters. De Chardin always asked himself: “What holds everything together?” And in Colossians we read “All things hold together in him.”

It is encouraging that many of us recycle so consciously. And we choose to limit or eliminate our consumption of certain foods and to grow our own food. But we can do more. I believe our conversion is firmly vested in political action. So, I might reflect on these questions:
What group can I join to bring my concern and passion for protecting our Earth?
Get on line and investigate where these groups are in your community.
How can I learn more about the crisis we are experiencing?
Can I organize a reading group on climate change where individuals can share what they are learning and use it in political action?
Can I create prayer services centered on the climate crisis for my community or parish?
Can I ask for a piece of the weekly parish bulletin to share ideas on what parishioners can do to address climate change?
Can I create a parish committee which would invite speakers for educational input leading to action?

I promise to share a bibliography very soon on de Chardin and other profound thinkers on our need for conversion to do something about our climate crisis. We can now, however, start by admitting to our human connectedness to all of life. What creates instability in one portion of life, creates it all the way to our human needs. We need to respect the role the lowliest among us plays for the welfare of the so-called highest.

I do suggest for starters to delve into Laudato Si, the Pope’s passionate encouragement for a truly Christian spirit to motivate our conversion to the realizing and nourishing the connectedness of all of life.

You might want to cut and paste this lovely prayer of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin which was inspired, no doubt, from his mystical love of God in this treasured universe.

“The day will come when,
after harnessing
The winds, the tides, gravitation,
We shall harness for God
The energies of love.
And, on that day, for the second time,
In the history of the world,
we will have discovered,

Please consider these questions and suggestions carefully. Take them to prayer. The Earth and all of Creation cries out for our commitment.

4 thoughts on “The Connection of Life in Spirituality and Ecology

Add yours

  1. Thank you! I love Chardin’s writings and Laudati Si! Our own Diocesan Social Action Office has a group addressing these issues and people from many parishes work to care for the environment. The Catholic Climate Covenant is another great resource. Cleveland’s Climate Action Plan is in its second decade of addressing climate issues – I suspect most don’t know it exists though great progress has been made. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Arbor Day Society, and so many other groups are also good resources. I worked for four years in Cleveland as a Climate Ambassador. This topic is dear to my heart.


  2. Thank you Pat for y our comment and your commitment. I did not know about Catholic Climate Covenant. Our faith is so real about this. Thanks for sharing; it may inspire others.


  3. Oh, Sr Mary Ann….
    Beyond “Bravo” for once again your essays bring into focus the beautiful gift of Creation, our responsibilities so personal, so detailed and caring for as we share this gift each day showing gratitude through conservation, education and devotion to each other as caregivers of this Earthly Home!
    Thank you for the enlightenment contained in your most welcomed reflection!
    Love ya,
    As I read your recent enlightenment immediately I called to mind…
    “All creatures great and small
    All things bright and beautiful
    All things wise and wonderful
    The Lord God made them all!”


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