Benedictine abbots and by extension all monks, nuns and Christians are expected to give to the Lord an account of the way the goods of creation are used (Rule of St Benedict & Luke 16:2). In various contexts Pope Benedict has also addressed the Church on the proper use of creation for the good humanity and over the long haul. Questions of environmental sustainability surface more and more these days with critical assessments of how we live viz. the ideals by which we live (the Gospel, theology), questions of stewardship, availability of manpower, money, etc.
A good example of what I am indicating are the environmental programs sponsored by the monks of St John’s Abbey and University to take a deeper look into a holistic approach to the environment in light of various disciplines. In the last few years the monks of the Abbey of Saint Gregory the Great, Portsmouth, RI, have begun a number of initiatives to be good stewards: a wind turbine and a large garden to supply the abbey and the school with fresh vegetables, name a few (more info here). Also, we can survey various abbeys who made some good choices by the planting of hundreds of trees to reclaim a forest by the monks of St Meinrad Archabbey, the comprehensive review of Sant’Anselmo (Rome) to see how more efficient they can be, Conception Abbey working wind technology and St Mary’s Abbey maintaining an apple orchard, an extensive garden, land preservation and a few bee hives. But these few good things raise the question of how all of us think and act green for better and healthy living.
Monks, nuns, priests, brothers and sisters are expected to live differently from the secular counterparts; seemingly the seculars do a lot better a living with a green consciousness. But Benedictines and Franciscans usually get praise for their being good stewards of creation.
Two very recent items which are good to note:
- Saint Meinrad monks and colleagues speak about the Benedictine Way of Life and Slow Communication
- Today the Benedictine monks and administration of Kansas’ Benedictine College’s commitment to green living with a new building project.