From the LCWR: Lenten Carbon Fast 2010 Calendar (not making this up)

STAGE DIRECTION:  Rod Serling enters from stage left, turns to the camera:

"Consider reason #6475 why the Holy began an Apostolic Visitation of women religious in the United States of America."

From a reader:

Sometimes I wonder if I am in another dimension…

The Archdiocese of Washington Environmental Outreach Committee (why do we need this) and the [wait for it…] Leadership Conference of Women Religious have [this gets better…] a Lenten Carbon Fast 2010 Calendar advising on how we can all be neo pagans…er, take "40 carbon fasting actions we can consider part of our lenten preparations."


Even more ridiculous, it’s administered with the help of the Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, an "ecumenical" effort to find an "authentic religious response to climate change." (read the first comment here from a representative)

I sent an email asking the diocese if they really thought that this was an authentic and reasonable response to the Holy Fathers call in Caritas in Veritate for responsible stewardship while avoiding "neo paganism or pantheism" by putting nature before humans (not to mention souls).

I just think, living in a diocese where you know many are not availing themselves of the sacraments and do not believe in the True Presence, this is worse than a distraction from Lent, it’s nearly a religion in itself.

They just don’t see how silly that all is, do they.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TNCath says:

    I wonder if the LCWR has considered the wearing of a religious habit, living in community, and embracing a common apostolate to be a eco-friendly and carbon saving? I certainly don’t see these suggestions on the calendar.

    Mother Clare Millea, I hope and pray you are taking notes!

  2. bubba says:

    Sadly, unfortunately they don’t. If they are SO concerned regarding their carbon footprint, perhaps they should hold their breath….As we continue to pray for them to change their minds.

  3. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    Many of these things are sane, sensible, and conservative things to do (there’s nothing conservative about wasting money, after all), though some are downright silly or just “green” agitprop (March 1, 14, 15, 17, 19, 22… well, much of March springs to mind!). The problem is dressing it all up as spirituality. That said, I’m sure we are all following the suggestion for today, since it is a PRECEPT OF THE CHURCH during Lent! Let’s talk about something more interesting: how large was your carbon thumbprint on Ash Wednesday, reverend and dear Fathers and Deacons? For my part, I try to make as big a cross as I can with the carbonized palm branches.

  4. robtbrown says:

    That nonsense bothers me so much that I can only calm myself by driving around for an hour in my gas hog. Upon returning, I’ll take a long, hot shower after I’ve turned up the thermostat.

  5. medievalist says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Deacon Nathan Allen. Many things here are simply common sense, it’s just the justification behind it that’s the problem.

    Having said that, however, I recall a talk by +Kallistos (Ware) I once attended where he made the interesting point that Christians can be models for a responsible form of living because we have a long history of personal sacrifice. Many green campaigners or people who have bought into their discourse, talk the talk of less consumption but aren’t actually willing to give up consuming at current levels. None of their schemes (some good, some startingly crazy) will work without a change in lifestyle. The Christian, especially Lenten, lifestyle is inherently “green” and the problem is modern greed, a point made frequently by the Holy Father.

    On a lighter note, this calendar shows how outdated these people are. The suggestion for March 25, encourage your magazine provider to use environmentally responsible paper, is just backward. Why not read the magazine online instead. Better yet, read an informative blog whose circulation is bigger than some “Catholic” magazines!

  6. EXCHIEF says:

    There is more to it than this. Rush Limbaugh had a segment the other day where he quoted specifics from a similar initiative by the Catholic Bishops of California. They cited very specific “how to save the envronment” steps for every day of Lent and the entire Bishops group encouraged Catholics to make these saving the environment steps a part of their Lenten activities.

  7. Rellis says:

    Why on earth would anyone give to Archbishop Wuerl’s Lenten fundraising appeal after this? This is what they are spending your money on at the chanceries, people!

    This is just like the CCHD and the USCCB. Bishops cannot be trusted with our money. By and large, they are naive, or their staffs are naive.

    Bankrupt the Bishops, Save the Church. Fulfill your canon law obligation to support the material needs of the Church in other ways. Don’t give to the bishops unless you want to fund the Obama agenda.

    11-12-2015. That is Archbishop Wuerl’s 75th birthday. That’s how long we have to wait until we get a worthy pastor for this diocese.

  8. Scott W. says:

    Invariably in these conversations, someone chimes in with how this is all perfectly in line with the Catholic teaching about stewardship and “what could it hurt?” Well, anyone with two neurons to rub together can see this isn’t about stewardship, but rather trivializing the Faith by making it the sock-puppet of secular progressive pieties. And piety is a good word because it is an alternative faith that is being shoved down our throats and has all the dogmas:

    1. Catholics are called to be stewards of the environment. (true)
    2. The globe is warming (plausible)
    3. Man is contributing significantly to the warming (dubious)
    4. The solution to this is less people and for the remaining people we allow to tromp around on Holy Mother Gaia need to microscopically regulate every aspect of their lives and support draconian socialist policies. (pure rot)

  9. One of the immediate things that struck me about the PDF of the calendar was that the first Friday of Lent’s entry contained the suggestion that one go without meat that day. It’s not mentioned on the other days. It seems, I don’t know, strange (to put it kindly) to put it on there in a way that doesn’t recognize that not eating meat is an obligation for Catholics for Fridays of Lent. Am I making too much of that?

  10. RC2 says:

    I’ve no defense to offer of a carbon fast or an environmental outreach committee, but I do have to defend Archb. Wuerl and my entire Archdiocese against your correspondent’s claim this is a distraction from Lent in a time when people don’t practice the sacraments. It’s a fair bet that no one in the Archdiocese of Washington would even know about the committee document if the bishops of CA hadn’t cited it in their “carbon fast” proposal. Archbishop Wuerl has said zip about any carbon fast. Instead, as he has each year since he got here, he’s aggressively promoting the sacrament of Confession all over the diocese, including through posters on public transportation. His “the light is on for you” program requires every parish in the Archdiocese to be open for Confessions from 6:30-8 each Wednesday of Lent in addition to their usual times. This year he got the neighboring diocese of Arlington to participate too. I’m all for calling out silly and unCatholic behavior, but it’s really unjust to Archbishop Wuerl to imply that he’s promoting greenist silliness over the essentials of the Faith.

  11. RC2 says:

    PS. Sorry for a 2nd post, but I just discovered to my delight the Archbishop’s program this year includes promoting Eucharistic Adoration, and his Lenten encyclical to the archdiocese is about Confession and adoration, w/ nary a word about carbon fasting.

  12. Ossus says:

    You know what, I think this is really a great idea.

    I sincerely hope that all involved in putting together this wonderful resource *completely* fast from all carbon, especially those carbon bonds contributing to their very being.

  13. markomalley says:

    Perhaps the Environmental Outreach Committee and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious could really start walking the walk rather than simply talking the talk in regards to CO2 emissions.

    They could just stop exhaling.

  14. I’m afraid in psychological terms this is called “displacement”: seeking our own undesirable qualities in something else (an object).
    They need something to feel guilty about (as if they don’t already have LOADS of it, but I will refrain) so they pick something that is, well, “secular”, and complete nonsense.
    E. Michael Jones wrote a commentary once about “Liberal Guilt Cookies” which dealt with Anna Quinlindan (sp?), some of you probably know her, a columnist from Boston, who felt guilty about having to leave her children (once again…how many times?) and baked them cookies as a way to assuage her guilt.
    But there is more to the story.
    Underneath, there is a massive load of guilt for all kinds of everything.
    And, rightly so.
    Rightly so.

  15. This was also posted on the – largely – liturgically progressive site as a marvellous achievement. However it was promptly removed after I and every single other commenter on the post pointed out that these proposals had nothing to do with penance and that the exhortation to every day “take some time to reflect on all the activities that you have performed during Lent, and how they have brought you into greater harmony with the Earth and all life” (I kid you not) smacked of paganism.

    In fact many of the proposals are useful and reasonable if you want to save energy – and money – but of course fasting is not about these things but about showing sorrow for sins etc.

  16. Cathomommy says:

    Is there anyone who *doesn’t* think that the whole Eco-movement is going to result in further pressure, or perhaps mandates, to limit one’s family size? It’ll start small, of course, by making us feel guilty for having to buy large vehicles in which to transport said family. Oh wait, we’re already there. Perhaps we’ll have caps on the number of pregnancies/births per woman that will be covered by medical insurance. Wouldn’t surprise me.

  17. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    Look, there’s nothing wrong with much of what they suggest in this – after all, many of these things make sense in themselves financially, and if it helps the environment, so much the better. But given some of their more… ahem… unmagisterial… proposals, I think they should take the beam out of their own eye first.

    And Cathomommy, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so… we just need to save the eco-movement from itself. :-p

  18. An American Mother says:

    This is all of a piece with the nonsense that the eco-ecumenical movement has been putting out for years.

    I walked into an Episcopal church on the east side of town (went to hear a concert) and there in the narthex was a huge poster and a proclamation on display in a glass case, exhorting the parishioners to do the “Stations of the United Nations Millenium Goals” for Lent instead of the Stations of the Cross.

    The late father of a good friend, who was a vestryman at this church, would be in a towering rage if he could have seen this.

  19. Cathomommy: I hate to be an alarmist, I’m really not this way by temperament, but I think you have a point; these folks worship, I mean worship the earth; they’re absolutely nuts…and too many people would spoil the great thing they have going…(in their own warped minds).
    I’m with you.
    This eco-friendly garbage (although proper stewardship of our resources/of the earth is not paganism) is just eco-dangerous to families and children.

  20. Dave N. says:

    This is not just the Archdiocese of Washington or the bishops of California or some occasional stray women religious–see:

    And who funds this initiative? Any guesses?

    The USCCB….

    Catholic Charities….

    Catholic Relief….

    Your donations at work!!!

  21. Gee, maybe we could have a new “examination of conscience” for the “real” mortal sins (not the usual things like deliberately missing Mass on Sundays and holy days, deliberate sexual sin, uncharitable thoughts, words and actions that were definitely deliberate, stealing, lying to hurt someone else, etc.)…now we can list: wasting water in the shower; not turning off appliances or lights when we leave the room; not carpooling or planning carefully our use of our vehicles, etc. etc. etc.
    Good Lord!
    As if these folks ever think of entering a confessional; now they’re going to put this “Catholic guilt” on the masses?
    Where is the compassion, the understanding…the IRONY of it all??

  22. Gail F says:

    Ridiculous! My favorite is the one about not wasting food by planning your meals and eating leftovers. That has nothing to do with either Lent OR a “carbon fast.” And anyway, being less wasteful is simply not the same thing as fasting.

    I would not draw a conclusion about the Archbishop from it, however. A committee can do this sort of thing in an afternoon, for free, especially if they are adapting something somebody else started. Unless I saw that the Archbishop had commissioned this, I wouldn’t give it another thought.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    “Archdiocese of Washington Environmental Outreach Committee” = reason #57699997770009 why you should target your giving responsibly. It’s winter; food banks and other more productive charities need help. Even the dog pound uses the donations it gets more responsibly than this.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Problem is, Gail, this was cooked up and paid for by the proceeds from the collection basket. *ALL* the money the church has comes from donations, in one form or another. Remember, money is fungible. No matter what fund they launder money through to get it where they want it, it all comes from the same place–the collection basket.

  25. TJerome says:

    Pagans masquerading as Christians. I guess Jesus didn’t really say to Peter: “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep” but “take care of Mother Earth.” These folks are left-wing loons, doubleknit dinosaurs, I would suspect antagonistic to the the Holy Father, the new translations, you know Catholicism. Tom

  26. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Love your intro to this posting Father. LOL!

  27. edwardo3 says:

    How about a real Lenten carbon fast, and all the liberals & co, take vows of silence for the 40 days of Lent.

  28. rinkevichjm says:

    If they mean we should avoid the vice of gluttony in our use of the world’s resources then this would be a good thing. For the CCC says:
    1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices.[138] They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.
    But if they think we should do it to avoid global warming, then I think they need to reconsider this in the light of recent evidence on the IPCC and associated climate research bodies. We follow the He, who is the truth and cannot abide with false teachings.

  29. swamp_rabbit says:

    I agree with both points.
    1. Many of these are very sensible ideas that can save people money and keep us from wasting energy. Waste not want not. I think we should beware of throwing out the baby with the bath water. That being said…

    2. Dressing this up as spirituality is a little weird. I mean, you can be a super-green person and still find your butt in loads of trouble at your final judgment.

    I thank God and His Church for the season of Lent. It’s such a wonderful time to really dig in at yourself and see what’s there…

  30. Rachel says:

    My Protestant mother heard about this silliness and asked me about it. Embarrassing! But I told her there are many who call themselves Catholics whose true religion is liberalism, and she understood. In fact she likes the Catholic notion of giving up something for Lent, and adopted it herself this year. She’s fasting from candy, not carbon.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    Truly said, Rachel. And our liberalism-believers are not only laypeople–by a long shot.

  32. TheWork says:

    Sayeth RC2: “I’m all for calling out silly and unCatholic behavior, but it’s really unjust to Archbishop Wuerl to imply that he’s promoting greenist silliness over the essentials of the Faith.”

    It is quite true that the Archdiocese has greatly stepped up promotion of confession and availing of the sacraments during Lent and Advent. This is nice, I dare say amazing. But considering the diocese is

    1. Using our money that is collected in the Archbishops Appeal to fund “special ministries” like the “Environmental Outreach Committee,”
    2. These ministries are working with the likes of the LCWR, a clearly errant group
    3. They are doing things that are at the very least skirting the lines of neopaganism which is *rampant* with all the environmental wacko groups we have here
    4. We don’t even know how much money is going to them.

    I think *some* criticism is warranted. If the diocese wants to talk about stewardship, from a TRULY catholic perspective, give talks on the Holy Father’s latest encyclical, or something. Not this. This seems to detract and should not be funded by our donations or supported by our diocese.

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