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viewpoint

Making a difference

| Monday, September 28, 2015

Ten years ago, I met a German Jesuit priest, Fr. Stefan, in Berlin. We went to a meeting by carpool. It was an unforgettable journey with him because of his heartfelt courtesy. My eyes were open to observe that he also kept a spoon and a fork after having a meal. This surprised me. I was born in a developing country and recycled whatever could be used again. Before that meal, though, I did not think people like Fr. Stefan needed to recycle. This was the first time in my life that I began to think about caring for creation, that I changed my way of using materials and that I begin to realize my responsibility to care for creation.

Being on Notre Dame’s campus, I also witness many “beautiful gestures of heartfelt courtesy,” especially in restrooms (‘Laudato Si’ 213). Many students prefer to use the drying machine instead of paper towels. Some of my friends use cloth napkins. I am privileged to be invited to dinners with professors and friends for both special celebrations and more simple gatherings. Usually, people would rather use paper napkins, plastic dishes, forks and spoons for large gatherings. But all I have seen are tables set with reusable utensils and dishes that can be washed after the meal. All these beautiful gestures seem like very small things, but this is a good habit which should be promoted among well-educated students.

Pope Francis urges each one of us to care for creation because human carelessness damages Mother Earth. We all make mistakes, but we must not ignore the Pope’s message. Pope Francis says, “It is we human beings above all who need to change” (‘Laudato Si’ 202). He urges conversion both individually and communally to practice good habits. Only hearts grounded in love can realize the beauty of creation and practice heartfelt courtesy. These express our gratitude to God, who grants us the authority to govern and care for all of creation.

In God’s providence, Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns chose Care for Creation, one principle of Catholic Social Thoughts, to practice at our campus. Truly, small changes make a difference but this only happens in a heart of conversion, which is grounded in faith in God, who created us out of love. If we believe that God creates out of love, and if we realize that we are in communion, then we must care for all creation. At Notre Dame, we believe that our hearts must be transformed as well as our minds and bodies. Small acts of stewardship of creation make a difference.

Anh Thi Kim Tran
Master of Theology candidate
Sept. 24

 

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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