Towards a Marian Integral Ecology


A Marian Integral Ecology  - Peter Healy sm NZ - Donato Kivi sm Fiji   

We acknowledge you Mary Protector of the Whole World.

You are Mary, Virgin Soil.

You are Mary, our Food Garden.

You are Mary Queen of the Whole World.

Dear Reader may this ecological spirituality

open your heart at this critical time.

This essay is an exploration of a Marian Integral Ecology. Integral ecologies are a creative response to the multi-faceted crises of our times. A Marian integral ecology is unique in the way it gives prominence to the person of Mary and her role as we enter a new period of human-earth relationship. It focuses on three of Mary's well-known titles; Virgin, Mother and Queen. It is integral in the way it connects everyone and everything, from the microcosm of the tiny, to the macrocosm of the immense. It is ecological in the way it crosses boundaries between Mariology, gardening practices, sustainability and care of our common home. 

This integral ecology draws on the work of a Fijian Marist Fr. Donato Kivi. He has written an ecological spirituality for the formation and re-evangelization of the people of Fiji. While his work is particular to Fiji, it is also for the whole world. It is a special contribution and inspiration to the care of our planet home.

Mary as Virgin is aligned with soil, the complex biological material that sustains and nurtures life. Mary as Mother is aligned with the garden, the diverse and relational site that is an intimate living community. Mary as Queen is aligned with our world, our global commons that is a web of systems empowering the well-being of all life.

The spirit of Mary as Virgin, Mother and Queen is full of love and concern for all life, particularly places and persons suffering most in this time of crisis. Our world was a place of great diversity and beauty; however, she now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her. (Laudato Si #2).We know we have but one planet, one home for a great community of living beings. We know this planet home is in a perilous state because of human excess and domination. Pope Francis draws us into Mary's heart when he writes; Mary the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world.Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the suffering of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. (Laudato Si #241)

The Vatican Dicastery on Integral Human Development has named seven goals to support the implementation of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si, Care of our Common Home. One of the seven goals is ecological spirituality and the Marian Integral Ecology presented here is a particular Marist response to this goal. Mary's maternal affection for our world is profound. We can imagine her as the first integral ecologist concerned for people and places stricken by harm and violence. She inspires ongoing ecological conversion and encourages us to move into an ecological era.

To be Mary: Ko te Whaea - Ko te Tātāho

To be like Mary, to imitate her quality of presence, is to be as soil. Our food, our shelter, our clothing, the air we breathe all depend on soil. To be like Mary is to behold a soil that is pure and wholesome, ready and open to conceive. Mary as soil, is Mary in her whole-hearted receptivity. She is rich, full of vitality and open to bringing forth new life. Life deep and true takes root in the fertile field of her womb. She is the one who cultivated a mind and heart ready to bring the new life of the Divine into our world. She is the foundation, the medium, the vital ingredient of renewal for our garden home. Mary humble and willing, receives the seed of life and brings it to fruitfulness. She is the new Earth, the new Eve, the virgin soil in whom the seed of God comes to birth and flourishes.

Mary as virgin soil, tātāhou, supports and encourages certain ecological practices. She can enable us to think about our individual faith formation, for instance, as we make time to study Laudato Si and learn about ecological conversion. As good soil we welcome seeds of the Word in all their forms. These can come to us in Word and Sacrament, community life, daily engagements and various spiritual practices. We can reflect on Mary as "a new innocence" who helps regenerate our world. In this way we become a guardian, a kaitiaki of the good soil of our own heart.

In a spirit of best practice in our homes, we can keep all food waste out of local land-fills. This means embracing a home compost system/worm farm that works for us and our household. We can also be more "grounded" in our daily rounds, seeking ways to walk, cycle, use public transport and become flight-less Kiwis. We are encouraged to eat lower on the food chain by opting regularly for a plant-based diet.

To be Mary, Mother – Garden: Ko te Whaea - Ko te māra kai

To be like Mary, is to contemplate the garden. Gardens are a set of relationships between soil, plants, moisture, sunlight, nutrients and a gardener. These relationships are the ingredients and conditions that conspire to produce fruitfulness. Abundance and fruitfulness is always the promise of a well tended garden. When the time is right a garden produces a welcome and nutritious harvest. The gardener stands in awe of what is produced and shares the produce with family and friends. The Marian garden is full of promise for the health and well-being of all who share in it. It is symbolic of all eco-systems in the world in need of restoration. It quietly subverts our fast-food culture and promotes the vitality of "slow food" and the family kitchen.

Mary as Mother and garden encourages certain ecological practices. The garden is an expression of community, interaction and exchange. Like plants in a garden we find ourselves with others, in congregations, homes, cities, towns, farms and workplaces. These places are diverse and full of life at every level of their existence. The garden is a good site to reflect on being a disciple in a particular place, embedded in a certain climate and community. We can reflect on being "Mothers of God" in our own unique ways. In an open-hearted spirit we allow our garden to be a place of refection and learning. We do this knowing that Mary herself was a gardener in her Middle-Eastern town of Nazareth.

In a spirit of best practice our backyard can be a place to create a garden or we might join a community garden. We can choose to study organic growing or permaculture design. We can integrate our compost system into our garden, by having it close to our garden and tending to it often. Looking at gardens nearby we can learn what grows well in our area. A garden brings is into relationship with the seasons, soil types, crop rotations and the geography of our place. Water for our garden can be harvested from nearby roofs. We can think of our garden as a witness to care of our common home. We can develop an orchard area if you have the space.

 To be Mary: Queen – Our whole Earth: Ko te Whaea - Ko te ao katoa

To be like Mary our Queen, is to develop a heart of tenderness for the whole Earth. Such tenderness is all inclusive and expansive, it reaches into the cosmos. Much of the administration and governance of our garden home on Earth is in a perilous state. Extractive and industrial economies threaten the integrity of life everywhere. Eco-systems on both land and sea are struggling. Care for the whole of creation has never been more urgent and important. We invoke and take inspiration from Mary Queen of all Creation. We welcome her love and tenderness for people and places everywhere. The wisdom of the Queen and Mother is enduring and true, her generative embrace engenders health and wholeness. We entrust into Mary's cosmic concern the great work before us, of renewal and blessing.

Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth can help us be advocates for all of Creation. We can become disciples with a new sensitivity for our broken world. We can open our minds and hearts to those who are suffering most in this crisis of inequality, pollution, conflict and over consumption. With her we can generate visions of a world beyond crisis. We can ask revealing questions as to, "Why there are so many crucified poor in our world community?". We entrust ourselves to the Queenship of Mary as we create an ecological spirituality and cultures of peace and equity. We acknowledge the role of the feminine in the creation a just and life-sustaining world.

In a spirit of best practice here you can learn about renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, tree planting, aquaculture, low carbon living, non-violence, ecological economics, social analysis and everything that draws-down harm and imbalance. All these practices are part of the great turning away from the ravages of industrial growth towards a life-sustaining society. There are many groups and movements of "blessed unrest" working for climate justice, social justice, peace, food security and gender and orientation justice. Under the Queenship of Mary we join with her, and all movements, that are leading us toward a world made whole.

E te Whaea Tapu, Hine nui o te Ao Katoa, inoi mō mātou.

Holy Mother, Protector of the Whole World, pray for us.

Peter Healy sm

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Monday, 15 April 2024