Our celebration of the Mass arose during a time when human-environment interactions generally led to the environment was a hostile force. Christ going into the wilderness, for example.
However, in modern times, humans relate to the environment in ways different from previously, and it still affects us in profound ways.
As Catholics who view the Eucharist as the center of our sacramental life, I think it’s time to consider some of the implications of environmental issues on the global celebration of the Eucharist, and vice-versa.
Here are a few examples for consideration:
(1) Soil desertification. For wheat and grapes to grow, they need fertile soil. Desertification is a process that robs land of its ability to sustain traditional crops. One might view desertification as a threat to the celebration of Mass in areas hard-hit by desertification, either directly (e.g., being unable to cultivate crops) or indirectly (e.g., by increasing the price of bread and wine through scarcity.
(2) Pesticides. Bread and wine are produced from two plants that have undergone large-scale conversion to the use of pesticides. Pesticides are associated with both benefits (e.g. greater agricultural productivity) and costs (e.g. developmental delays in developing children). As part of our celebration, shouldn’t we think more about the means by which the bread and wine are produced?
(3) Others, including air pollution from long-range transport.
I could go on, I suppose. The size of church parking lots could itself contribute to the degradation of water bodies like streams by reducing surface permeability.
I guess this isn’t really separate from other environmental issues, but I thought of it one day in Mass as something that we should consider.