|The seventh reflection of the of the “Seven Weeks for Water”, of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Sr. Raquel de Fátima Colet, a consecrated Catholic member of the Company of the Daughters of Charity of the Province of Curitiba/Paraná/Brasil. She is a member of the Ecumenical Movement of Curitiba (MOVEC). In the following reflection she relates the beatitudes in the context of respecting and protecting our waters. She says, “The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) present us with a path to follow Jesus, in the commitment to his Kingdom of love, justice and peace. From Latin America, from its exuberant nature and the lives of our peoples, today we want to proclaim the beatitudes of caring, translated into our prophetic participation in the promotion of a fair and equal access to water a universal gift and right”.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)
When we say “happy” and “blessed”, we proclaim that our God is not indifferent to the cry of the little ones and of their causes, but that He makes the decision to intervene in their favor (Exodus 3:16b). In the current exodus experienced by our Common House, the integrity of the Common House is threatened by the interests of the pharaohs of the capital, who commercialize life and nature. In this paschal wait, we walk with our people in their journeys of life and faith, towards the earth soaked in milk and honey (Exodus 3:8), and of clear, preserved and shared water.
Happy are the poor in heart, our Amerindian peoples, indigenous to these lands and keepers of their abundant fresh water reserves. Theirs is the Kingdom of heaven because, keepers of the waters, they teach us that our bond with the earth is sacred.
Blessed is the active gentleness in so many religious groups and communities in this diverse continent. In the daily witnessing of their beliefs and their spiritual values, they help us cultivate a stance of hope when faced with the dormant conflicts related to accessing and using water. Land shall be their legacy because they invite us to non-violent, good living prophetic resistance.
Happy are those who cry the pains of the wounded Earth, of its waters abducted by industry and predatory agriculture, pushed by great corporations and multinational groups, often in conjunction with political power structures. Their solace is the daily teaching path fighting for ecological sensitivity and changes in our consumption habits.
Blessed are the hungry and thirsty of justice, the nonconformed with the concentration of power and resources in the hands of a dominant elite, for whom water is their strategic field of battle. They will be quenched when they collaborate with the mobilization and organization of the people, led by the “Abrahamic minorities” of the people and traditional communities that generate alternative and sustainable paths of preservation of land and water.
Happy are those who practice mercy and, in this genuine gesture of compassion, rescue the victims of natural resource exploitation with their strength and means. Especially those who suffer from lack of access to drinking water and proper basic sanitation. They will equally be showered with mercy through the meeting in redeeming solidarity that they promote.
Blessed are the pure, transparent and true of heart like crystal water. They who weave their relationships with the Common House with yarn of zeal and contemplation. They will see God because they are also able to see Him in his work of Creation, and to hear his cries in the wails of the waters and the land.
Happy are those who act to bring peace, applying their intelligence as an instrument to manage strategies and projects that guarantee a planet where all can live. They are God’s sons and daughters and, as His heirs, they participate in his creative labor by envisioning ways of cleaning up our rivers, recovering springs, managing equitable access and supply of water to the people, teaching waste reduction, and adding their knowledge to the regenerating wisdom of nature itself.
We therefore proclaim that blessed be the brothers and sisters persecuted in their fight for justice, whose cause denounces the market interests behind the willingness to privatize water, indiscriminately exploit the groundwaters, and compromise the ecosystems’ stability. The brothers and sisters who challenge the political strategies based on a development model that hurts the principal of universal distribution of goods, disregards our peoples’ cultural knowledge, uses, pollutes, contaminates and privatizes what was given to us by the Creator as a pure gift.
Our pilgrimage for justice is weaved on the re-reading of the Good News of Jesus Christ through the journeys of struggle to safeguard water as a free gift for all. Happy and blessed be, today, the lives of those who contemplate the abundance of Latin America’s water resources with open arms, to protect but not negotiate! In the spirit of conversion and remembrance of the blood shed by the martyrs, which runs next to the abundant waters of this “new world” land, we are called upon to live the blessing of caring as a glimmer of hope for a new world, the “new heaven and the new earth” inhabited by justice (2 Peter 3:13).
- Which signs of the beatitudes of caring for water (experiences, projects, initiatives) can we identify in our local communities?
- What symbolic and real persecutions do we find in our pilgrimage for water justice?
- Action 1: Organize a workshop with children from the community/group, where you present today’s water-related main issues. Use terminology that is appropriate and accessible for the children. This will also be an opportunity to introduce new generations, especially from other continents, to some of Latin America’s cultural and natural traits. Invite children to brainstorm a creative approach to share that reflection with the other members of the community/group, in a setting that is attended by and relevant to the community (e.g., an artistic presentation in a place of worship, meeting hall, theater presentation, among others).
- Action 2: Based on the children’s reflection exercise (action 1), the community/group is invited to reflect upon its own daily consumption habits, especially regarding water, to identify a common practice that needs to be revisited, and put together a joint action which reverts in material support to an organization/agency in socio-environmental field.
- The 2016 Ecumenic Fraternity Campaign (Campanha da Fraternidade Ecumênica; CFE) worked directly on water issues by focusing on basic sanitation, especially in the Brazilian context. CFE was organized by the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil; CONIC), in international partnership with Misereor. In addition to focusing on the dialogue between the churches and Brazilian society, CFE aimed at leading public advocacy actions on sanitation policy.
To learn more:
a) Videos: www.youtube.com/channel/UCD6bHX0dvLFmGG803nSHSlA
b) Other resources: www.conic.org.br/portal/cf-ecumenica
- The Pan-Amazonian Ecclesiastic Network (Rede Eclesial Pan-Amazônica; REPAM) was founded in 2014 by Catholic Church entities. REPAM partners with other multilateral organizations to face socio-environmental challenges in the Amazon biome, and the life of its peoples. As a defining feature of the Amazon, the issue of water is directly connected to REPAM’s line of action.
To learn more: repam.org.br/home
Click here to read all reflections of the 2018 edition of Seven Weeks for Water