Day 9: Mortal Environmental Anguish

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Readings for Today

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Everyone I know who has experienced an environmental awakening has, like Esther, been “seized with mortal anguish.”

In the face of our changing climate and the cavalier indifference of so many, I have, at times, found myself cascading into a state of depression that lasts “from morning until evening,” day after day.

Esther’s despair and her subsequent prayer for God’s help, call us out of anguish into hope. In the Gospel text Jesus says that what we ask for in faith will be given and what we seek, we will find.

With hearts filled with love for the earth, those of us with environmental hearts seek to create a world in which God’s creation is reverenced, not destroyed, where it is honored and not desecrated. Today we pray with Esther that God might give us “persuasive words” to convince the unconvinced of the urgency of this sacred task.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever experienced environmental anguish? How do you handle it without losing hope?
  • How can Christians speak more effectively about the moral imperatives of Climate Change?

John O’Keefe is a Professor of theology at Creighton University where he also moonlights as a documentary filmmaker. As a theologian, he writes and teaches about ancient Christianity and ecological theology. As a filmmaker, he is the producer of the Backpack Journalism Project at Creighton, a program that uses the tool of documentary filmmaking to educate undergraduate students about the challenges facing people in the developing world and marginalized societies. O’Keefe directed the award-winning short documentary Tokimane, which is set in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. O’Keefe and his wife Kathy live in Omaha and have four adult children.

4 replies
  1. Frank O'Brien
    Frank O'Brien says:

    What a challenge- love the earth! But the earth is not God or even another person. Is loving more than a bunch of actions, like turning out lights and lowering the heat, and picking up dead animals? If it is a lifelong attitude to conserve resources for myself, then how might it expand this. Only a few of us can write such reflections and pen persuasive words. Where is al this ISN trying to lead us?
    I presume these are more than 40 isolated invitational writings. What is ISNs plan for the next 31 days, and beyond?
    Let’s start with making Mr. O’Keefes best films available to share. Then let’s convert these forty days from 40 preachings into a two way network.

    • Christopher Kerr
      Christopher Kerr says:


      Thanks for your comments on many of the Lenten posts. They certainly demonstrate your desire to process and reflect on these daily offerings.

      The Ignatian Solidarity Network has been engaged in responding to the issue of climate change for many years. In 2013, ISN became a partner of the Catholic Climate Covenant, committing to being a leader in caring for creation through prayer, reflection, education, advocacy, and action. We also partner with EcoJesuit, an international Jesuit ecology networking project and many environmentally focused initiatives at Jesuit institutions in the U.S.

      This past fall we began a focused education and advocacy commitment that started with over 1,000 young advocates visiting legislators on Capitol Hill to discuss a number of issues including climate change ( This effort to engage our government leaders continued this February with Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (

      All of these efforts are intended to build on Pope Francis upcoming encyclical to be released later this year, with more leadership on these issues to follow.

      Glad to answer additional questions about our efforts — send us an e-mail at [email protected].

      Chris Kerr
      Executive Director

  2. Lorraine Delehanty
    Lorraine Delehanty says:

    I am grateful for your reflection, John O’Keefe. Yes, I do experience environmental anguish on a regular basis. Your reference to Esther is both encouraging and inspiring. I also get hope when I am with other like minded folks in my church and community, who work to create real environmental change. I believe that
    all of us ordinary people are invited to find our voice and speak out in defense of God’s Creation.

  3. dzedalis
    dzedalis says:

    I don’t feel environmental anguish at all…nor anxiety…as all is in God’s hands. And, frankly, I will say that I have had engagements with those who say they are concerned about the environment and I found myself wondering just who they were serving…certainly sometimes NOT the people (those who need to farm, eat, etc.) and certainly not taxpayers (at least in the US). I do believe that a dialogue on a coherent, fair, and far-sighted plan is needed and appreciate what Pope Francis and ISN is doing.


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