Fasting for Climate Change?

The latest buzz words ‘climate change’ only increases my desire to pray for those who fall for the lies that come from the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). As a Catholic psychotherapist, I often think my job is nothing more than helping my clients validate what they already know to be true, and no longer feeling shame about it, so that they can avoid sin and make sacrifices to God out of love for Him. However, people are often so angry about the lies that they have been told by others, such as their parents, teachers, and so-called Church leaders and other public officials that they don’t know what to believe anymore. So, it can be very hard for a client to trust a psychotherapist who speaks the truth about these matters.

I remember when I was a very young child, in a public school, that the environmental ‘crisis’ that was being used at the time to try to scare us into becoming environmental activists was the threat that there wouldn’t be enough trees to produce oxygen for us to breathe by the time that we were supposed to be entering college. The explanation that was provided was due to the rate at which trees were being cut down in the rainforest in order for paper to be produced. But as my teacher told us about this, she also had us read about it in textbooks, which were printed on paper, even though Apple II-C computers and chalkboards were available. We all had our own textbooks for every subject matter. All of the teachers printed materials and even made copies on paper like it was going out of style! I remember thinking to myself as a little girl, “How can this be true?”

Knowing that people told lies was not something new to me. But I felt troubled as a child that adults who were entrusted with my care and development would lie to me and others. I noticed that adults typically lied as a way to cause fear to control, to promote an agenda, or both. I also noticed that they didn’t even usually believe what they were saying. Some people say that I was very astute as a child. I think most children are. But psychological defenses protect us when we are children from the very painful emotions that are associated with the cruelties of this world.

So, I told myself, right then and there how I would learn how to discern whether this story about the world ending was true. It didn’t take long. The story changed, or it stopped being told, in some way, without a reasonable explanation.

The same thing happened with how we got to where we are with ‘climate change’. The story has changed, the narrative has changed, and now the name has changed to fit the new narrative. It’s been interesting to have conversations with my husband who is older than I am and who has a different perspective than me on this whole matter about how much the world has changed since he was a child and ‘why’ climate change is the new narrative. But it doesn’t even matter whether ‘climate change’ is real, as it relates to whether, we as Catholics could or should be fasting from meat on Fridays. What matters is whether we are doing something for the right reason(s) as it relates to our faith and, particularly, if we are choosing humility or pride as our motivation to make a sacrifice such as fasting from meat.

Pope Francis has been very vocal about ‘climate change’ and his so-called belief that Catholics have a ‘moral responsibility’ to do their part reverse it. He has even used his position as the Holy Father to take several positions on other social and global issues as well, while neglecting or outright rejecting what matters most. However, the latest news that he may consider ‘resurrecting’ the past practice, according to the tradition of the Church for Catholics to fast from meat on Fridays for the purpose of ‘climate change’ as a ‘moral obligation’ would be blasphemy.

The only legitimate reason(s) to fast from meat, or anything for that matter, as a Catholic is to help you grow in your desire to love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength, develop a healthy self-love, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mar 12:30-31). The tradition of the Church includes fasting from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, which if you choose to follow the tradition of the Church you will be taking better care of your body and if you remember that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, you will be more likely to be aware of how it helps you too (1 Cor 3:16-17). You may reduce your weight in the process, and you may even save money, which you could give to the poor (Mat 25:40). If there are any ‘benefits’ to the environment that come from it that you support, then it’s simply a side-effect. But if trying to reverse ‘climate change’ by fasting on Fridays is your primary motivation, you are ‘missing the point’.

If you choose to implement fasting, pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and any sensations that you experience. You may notice that you were not aware of ‘why’ you have resisted this tradition in the past. Perhaps it’s as simple as you didn’t know about the tradition, but now you have a reaction to not knowing. If you can’t do both days, perhaps you could try starting with Friday. Bring it all to prayer by talking with God about what you experience. What is it like for you to make a sacrifice for God? Are you genuinely concerned about God’s creation? If so, what can you do to make changes in your life to take better care of your body and God’s creation, including the environment?

As for Pope Francis, well he’s like a father who has forsaken his children (Psa 27:10). Pray unceasingly with hope that the Holy Father may be enlightened, convert, and do penance for the sake of the salvation of his soul. When you pray for the Holy Father, do so quietly and humbly, out of obedience to the Word of the Lord, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat 5:43-45). You may also consider making an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, adapted by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. and making a petition to God the Father with a Prayer of Protection from False Doctrine, adapted by Gianna Elms, LCSW.

Original publication date 06.22.2023. Post last updated on 7.09.2023.

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