Imagine you are standing on a mountain peak and looking down on a green wooded valley, in the middle of which lies a shimmering turquoise lake. In the sky a bird of prey is circling sublimely. Perhaps you are strolling along a babbling brook or walking through a forest that smells of pine needles and damp earth. You might hear a woodpecker pecking at a tree trunk or songbirds warbling their songs, or you might see the sun shining through the treetops onto a clearing where deer are grazing.

Nature conservation and our responsibility towards it

There are probably few people who remain untouched at the sight of nature. Who do not feel joy, peace or awe when surrounded by it. Especially now in spring, we can witness everywhere how an annually recurring miracle takes place before our eyes: how nature awakens from hibernation and unfolds its power. How shoots only begin to sprout delicately and the surroundings suddenly shine in all colors.

The beauty of nature, the abundance and richness of God's creation, and at the same time the great ecological challenges we face today, have made the Catholic relief organization Renovabis consider choosing the thematic focus for the year 2021 as follows:

"YOU renew the face of the earth".

With this focus, Renovabis draws attention to our responsibility for the environment.

Creation needs respect, compassion, togetherness.

"Cogito ergo sum" – I think, therefore I am. Many people are familiar with this famous sentence from the philosopher René Descartes. But there is something else that makes us human: it is the feeling that we share with all creatures in nature. We all feel, we are all vulnerable.

Friar in blue habit caresses a donkey that stretches its head towards him
Baltriškés (Lithuania): The monastic community of the Belgian "Brotherhood of the Lake Tiberias" lives in harmony with nature and focuses on environmental education. ©Renovabis

Renovabis therefore sees it as its task to promote the protection of what we love and need for life. The relief organization advocates a prudent, resource-conserving and respectful interaction with nature – for the preservation of creation, which is given to us all as a gift.

Renovabis supports people in Eastern Europe

Renovabis is the youngest of the six world church Catholic relief organizations in Germany. It was founded in 1993 to support people in the once communist countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe in their pastoral, social and societal renewal after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to show them solidarity.

That is why the 2021 annual motto also includes the addition: "East and West in common responsibility for creation". In Eastern Europe in particular, the decades under communist rule have in many cases led to the overexploitation of nature. The effects of the Chernobyl disaster are still present today. Many steps still need to be taken in these countries to further develop environmental and resource protection.

The collection from all Catholic parishes in Germany on Pentecost Sunday is therefore destined for the work of Renovabis, which is using the funds this year, among other things, to promote social and at the same time nature-oriented projects, for example, in Romania or Lithuania. Projects that focus on the human connection with nature.

Little Roma boy takes a hearty bite of a big red apple
Environmentally friendly, sustainably managed orchards – result in fruits that taste twice as good, like the one being enjoyed by this Roma boy from Albania ©Renovabis

It is our awareness for each other that counts

At the same time, Renovabis sees this year's focus as an opportunity to once again make ourselves and others aware that we all live together on earth and that God's creation can only be preserved if we all make a contribution to it. "Everything is always connected to everything else," the chief executive of Renovabis, Rev. Dr. Christian Hartl, quotes Pope Francis.

"Only together will we be able to protect, shape and preserve our planet Earth. All together and for the good of all."

Perhaps we should therefore not only say and think: "Cogito ergo sum", but also: "Sentio ergo sum" – I feel, therefore I am and I feel, therefore I protect. In this way, we can renew the face of the earth.

Empathize and share

  • Have you been out in nature today and been aware of what it gives you – every day? Several things to start with like food, peace, rest, joy, hope.
  • Try not to see yourself as separate from nature. We humans are part of it. There is no against each other, only togetherness, and that in the same way as we would like to see it among humans: in friendly encounter, with consideration and respect.
  • Love for nature is also charity. Ask yourself: What good can you do for nature? Where can you reduce your consumption of resources? How can you support the preservation of nature in its biodiversity and continue to preserve, appreciate and protect it?

Renovabis is the Eastern Europe relief organization of the Catholic Church in Germany. More information on its work at www.renovabis.de

Header image: @Renovabis, Translation: Sayanti Sengupta