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One lesson to learn from natural disasters

October 30,2018 - 09:26 PM

We have concluded the yearly Season of Creation proclaimed by Pope Francis in 2016, in collaboration with other Christian Churches, denominations and other belief systems and cultures; it was celebrated from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of the environment. Oct. 4 is also World Animal Day in honor of the saint.

The specific purpose of the Season of Creation is for everyone, regardless of work, social status, belief system or culture to be grateful for this planet that is our only home, to appreciate it and to protect it from selfish exploitation and carelessness. Saint Francis of Assisi has shown us that all creatures in the planet are interrelated and mutually dependent.

It is ironic that, during this year’s Season of Creation, we had Typhoon “Ompong,” the most destructive typhoon of the year, which wreaked havoc in northern Luzon and led to the collapse of a mountainside, burying about 100 people. Shortly after, we had the landslide in Naga City, Cebu, that caused the death of some 80 people, some of them buried under tons of earth. It is also ironic that the patron saint of Naga City is Saint Francis of Assisi.

Similar to calamities that have happened in many other countries, these disasters have affected whole regions, with lives lost, and agriculture as well as other sources of livelihood of our people greatly damaged. The Season of Creation also fell during the rehabilitation of Boracay, one of the well-known tourist destinations in the country.

What happened in the north and in Cebu were caused by natural conditions that resulted in the destruction of lives and property. The case of Boracay, meanwhile, was caused by our lack of awareness of how to care for the environment, and the false belief that nature would be able to take the abuses we inflict on it by our materialism and consumerism, all of which eventually turned a paradise into a “cesspool,” as President Duterte called it.

It is never too late to learn from these calamities and to appreciate, value and care for our natural environment. Each one must be responsible — under the leadership of the government, its agencies and institutions, and with the collaboration of all persons of goodwill — for working resolutely to promote the care of the environment, particularly in the management of our waste, plastic and nonbiodegradable products, and objects for daily use. Nature can take only so much, and when it strikes back with floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and such, it is only to remind us that we are one with her. To abuse the earth is to abuse ourselves; to protect and love the earth is to protect and love ourselves.

We are not owners of creation, but its stewards. This is an awareness we must carry with us and practice not just during the Season of Creation, but also throughout the whole year. This is the basic way to understand our relationship with Mother Earth, our only home. Peace to all.


Antonio Maria Rosales- just celebrated his 50th year in the priesthood. A former parish priest of Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati, he is now visiting professor of morals at Saint Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao.

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TAGS: disasters, learn, lesson, natural, ONE

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