A prayer for nature, Mar Thoma Church says Amen to ‘Carbon Lent’

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Pathanamthitta: This year, as part of the solemn observance of the Great Lent, the Thiruvalla-headquartered Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church wants its congregation not just to have a deeper connection with the God but also with nature. The church has issued a global call to its congregation to embark on a carbon fast, christening the unique initiative as ‘Carbon Lent’. Aligned with the growing concern about climate change within various religious communities, the carbon fast suggests practical energy-saving measures to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Rev V M Mathew, Convenor of the Ecological Commission under the Mar Thoma Church, pointed out that the Bible encourages people to become environmentally conscious. “No matter the individuals or parties responsible for carbon emissions, the consequences are shared collectively. Those who contribute the least will also bear the burden. There’s a moral imperative for those emitting more than their fair share to keep a check on themselves,” he said.

The Carbon Lent, which also aims to make people more aware of how their actions have larger positive and negative impacts, dedicates each of the seven weeks of the Great Lent to a particular theme. The first week, titled ‘Fast on Ignorance’, is envisaged as a week of learning to avoid being ignorant about the Future Impacts of Climate Change. The second week, which is dedicated to power conservation, requires the followers to reduce the consumption of electricity.

The third week requires cutting down on food while the fourth week seeks to stop splurging. The fifth week is for “Fasting from Plastics” and introducing alternatives, while the sixth week requires cutting down the usage of private vehicles. “Let’s practice walking wherever we can to reduce our carbon footprints. You can travel using public transport only. Private vehicles may be restricted to emergency use only,” suggests the Lent module set for the sixth week.

The final week, which culminates in Easter, seeks to reduce the use of social media and promotes direct intra-personal conversations instead. The weekly calendar, meanwhile, also suggests Bible studies to be followed each week. All of these modules, according to Rev Mathew, together give congregations an understanding of the Christian faith that underlines the call to care for the earth. “Spiritually, it allows us to reflect on our call to care for Creation. When people have a personal commitment to an issue, it is much easier to organize,” he adds.

The Mar Thoma Church has long adopted ecological conservation as a moral duty of its members and launched several initiatives focusing on the need for sustainable development. The Maramon Convention, organized by the church every year on the sandbanks of the Pampa River, is famous for its strict ecological protocol and eco-friendly constructions, including a massive encampment made of braided coconut leaves.

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