Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 27, 2009
Spirituality helps us see sacredness of creation – sister
CWL urged to respect environment through political, personal action
Sr. Jeannette Filthaut
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
CAMROSE – Humanity, standing at a critical juncture in history, must choose its future.
“This time we live in is a moment of grace, a moment in which we are able to perceive, in a way no other generation has ever before perceived, what God has been up to in creating and sustaining this universe,” Sister Jeannette Filthaut told 240 women at an eco-spirituality workshop.
Recognizing that being guardians of the environment is a moral obligation, her workshop was called Sacred Being, Sacred Creation.
“At the deepest part of all being is the sacred,” she said. “You and I are sacred beings. Spiritual beings need to listen attentively to God in our lives.”
At the Norsemen Inn on April 17, Filthaut spoke to women during the annual convention of the Edmonton Archdiocese of the Catholic Women’s League.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Filthaut, as she taught in Camrose many years ago, and 28 years ago gave a presentation to the league there.
LISTENING TO GOD
“Our spirituality is basically connected to how you and I are listening to God in our lives. Our spirituality assists us in understanding our responsibility as citizens of this fragile planet,” she said.
“Authentic spirituality, therefore, must be placed squarely in the framework of both sustainability of the planet and social justice for all of the human family and all created beings.”
Born in Edmonton and raised in Saskatchewan, Filthaut has been a Sister of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul (Kingston), had an illustrious teaching career and has led spiritual retreats that bring people closer to the natural world.
The personal credo she lives her life by is Reflect and Respond.
“Experience, reflect, respond. If you don’t reflect on your experiences, you don’t know how to respond well. You are only reacting, but we want to be able to respond out of compassion and love,” she said.
She encouraged the women to reflect on times when they felt a deep connection with our planet’s beginnings, with God, and with Mother Earth.
RESPECT GOD’S GIFT
“If we are sacred beings living in a sacred creation – and not on it – why do we set ourselves apart from creation and disrespect this precious gift of our creator God?”
Filthaut sprinkled her workshop with songs, humorous cartoons, passages from the Psalms and book excerpts from renowned environmentalists.
Based on her own observations and their ideas, she said it’s important as Catholic women to take action on what is happening in the world around us.
From reducing and recycling in our homes to petitioning our politicians, she said people can make a positive difference.
“Caring for our planet goes to the heart of what it means to be faithful Christians.”
The reality is that our choices and the manner in which humanity lives with over-consumption are destroying our planet, Filthaut said.
“We’ve somewhat lost that sense of belonging to the web of life, to the caterpillar that becomes the butterfly, to observing that experience of evolution, to what happens in that death/resurrection time.”
She emphasized the challenge to humanity to satisfy our needs without destroying the biodiversity that makes our planet so nourishing, so rich.
She shared some alarming statistics. Twenty per cent of the world’s population uses 75 per cent of its resources. The average Canadian uses 570 litres of water per day, compared to 57 litres in most African countries.
About one in six people worldwide (894 million) do not have access to fresh water.
GUARDIANS OF NATURE
“We, as Catholic Christians, need to learn to relate to the natural world, not as dominators, not as stewards, but as guardians,” she said.
Albertans face a paradox with the province’s oil sands developments, she said.
On one hand, oil and gas exploration provides a viable livelihood for many people. On the other hand, the work is devastating both land and water. Finding a reasonable balance is crucial.
“This carbon time bomb is creating an environmental disaster of enormous proportions and we are all affected by it.”