US Catholic Faith in Real Life

The parish garden that brings faith down to earth

A nonprofit organization helps churches put down roots—both in the soil and the community.

By Wyatt Massey | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice

Every week, hands plunge into the earth at St. Benedict the African East Catholic Church in Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Around five raised-bed plots and six container gardens church volunteers, police and fire department baseball league players, and various community members pull weeds, plant flowers, and get to know one another.

The “Garden of Eatin’ ” grows tomatoes, kale, peppers, eggplant, and salad greens. The congregation shares the crops and donates the excess to the local food pantry, says Susan Rashad, founder of the parish’s garden club. 

Earth is a sacred text

The holiness of the Eucharist is alive in the soil with which we work.

By Robert L. Ernst | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

The smell of horses and leather filled the air as I made the last harness adjustments, stepped behind the team of willing Belgians, and drove them to the walking plow that stood at the head of the garden. Trace chains clinked against the doubletree as I hooked the plow. I joined the lines in a plowman’s knot and ducked into the loop they formed, situating the smooth leather around my back. With the loop running under my left arm, across my back and around my right shoulder, I was able to control the team while I took hold of the plow handles, worn smooth with repeated use.

An oil and gas rush or last gasp?

Who really benefits from oil and natural gas production? Are those benefits worth the risks?

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article News

The United States is experiencing an unprecedented oil and natural gas rush, but this rush is less about finding untapped reserves of these fossil fuels and more about getting those commodities to market before any more of its leaky bottom falls out. Overproduction because of fracking has contributed to a collapse in the price of a barrel of oil, which hit a low of $26 in February.

The company using marine trash to inspire change

Caring for creation one skateboard at a time.

By Kathryn Horning | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article News

Bureo is a native Chilean word meaning “waves.”

A search online for sustainable skateboards, sunglasses, or bamboo utensil sets reveals Bureo—the company—in the top results. All their lines of gear are fun, extremely well-engineered, eco-friendly, and, again, fun. Exploring the site and the company’s young history rewards the curious with an inspirational narrative of an American success story played out on a global stage.

Pope Francis puts the environment on the global agenda

The Catholic tradition esteems communal stability over economic growth rates.

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article News

Pope Francis took major steps to offer some practical and spiritual sustenance to the idea of “integral development” that he promoted in his encyclical Laudato Si’. In August he placed his own mark on church tradition by instituting an eighth corporal and spiritual work of mercy, by adding care of our common home to a list of those acts of compassion and service expected of all Catholics.

Go outside, it’s good for your soul

Let your interior life be enriched by time spent outdoors.

By Beth Haile | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

On a recent trip through Yellowstone, I encountered a couple crouched next to a tall spruce tree, binoculars up and muttering to each other. Then they grew excited, both spotting something, the man going for his camera, the woman on her smart phone. “I’ve got it!” she finally exclaimed. “A mountain chickadee!” They high-fived, overflowing with giddiness. 

Who cares? We do.

U.S. Catholic readers say Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ has inspired them to care for their common home.

By Laura Whitaker | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice News

It’s been almost a year since the June 2015 publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (On Care for Our Common Home) and, in that time, Pope Francis’ call for all people to take “swift and unified global action” to address the crisis posed by environmental degradation has spread across the world.

The fracked up economy

Fracking has once again made the United States an energy exporter—but at what cost?

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice

For the first time in decades the United States is approaching a level of energy independence considered impossible just a few years ago. The oil and natural gas “fracking” boom, coupled with an unusually warm winter and an Asian economic slowdown that has slaked the global thirst for oil, has translated into plunging oil prices. That means U.S. consumers have enjoyed home heating and gasoline prices at levels most thought they would never see again.

Does the earth have a prayer?

It is our practices—spiritual and otherwise—that will make a difference in the way we care for creation.

By Joan Brown, O.S.F. | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Your Faith

One night when I was 6 years old, while walking outdoors before bed, I gazed at the sky and found myself wrapped in the vast mantle of stars, the Milky Way. Standing in awe, my body felt both small and large. In that instant I felt God.

Now, years later, that memory restores me when I feel overwhelmed by the devastation of God’s creation or when spiritual questions overshadow me. What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose here? My answer is that I am stardust created in love by the divine mystery.

For God so loved the cosmos

When Christ became human, he also became part of the vast body of the cosmos.

By Elizabeth Johnson | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
Article Justice

In our day concerns about ecology are rising. Climate change, pollution, and extinction of plant and animal species make us question harmful human treatment of the natural world.