Edith Avila Olea

My husband and I are expecting a baby boy at the end of October. As first-time parents, you can probably imagine our excitement and joy. What a time!

After celebrating the Season of Creation in September, I’ve been thinking about the world we’re leaving behind from a whole new perspective. How am I going to explain to my child(ren) all the chaos we are living today?

More often now, you hear people saying the reason they’re not having kids is because it’s not socially responsible. I hear this comment from callers on NPR all the time! And it saddens my heart to hear this thought. I do question this responsibility, but I take my firmness and openness to life from Christ, not the world.

Pope Francis briefly touches on this idea in “Laudato Si’.” He calls out this worldly lie. I’ll restate him like this: there are enough goods to go around, if only each person would take what’s necessary and share what’s left over. This was God’s design for his creation.

Yet in consumerist America, we desire more and more. I’ve often found myself feeling overwhelmed with all the things a newborn “needs.” Expenses on top of expenses. It’s all so different from my Mexican heritage, or at least from how I remembered it.

I grew up around or with babies. I don’t seem to remember my parents or family members stressing over all the little details for a nursery or the various baby gear available now.

We’ve made life so complicated. Being in this world and not of this world becomes really blurred from day to day. Does God really call us to simplicity? Does God really call us to a life of humility? Does God really call us to a life of social responsibility and sustainability?

These are the questions I’ve been trying to balance over the past several months. As I enter into the last week or so of prenatal care, I regret I didn’t find all the answers, but I have received some peace.

Yes, God’s love for us is freely given. But my love for God compels me to act out of that same love. The Gospel speaks of this as well. Jesus is in God; God is in Jesus; Jesus is within us; therefore, God is within us as well. We are all made in the image of God.

As Catholics, because of God’s love for us, we are called to live more simply, to be humbled and to be responsible to each other. I am my brother’s keeper.

Arguably though, this is not reflected in our world. The climate crisis is quite literally washing away entire communities at a time. As we usually do, we are primarily destroying the lives of the poor and most vulnerable of our world. This is not acceptable or justifiable.

As Americans, we might not feel the immediate effects of the current climate crisis, but that doesn’t change our social responsibility. This challenge is for everyone who lives on planet Earth, as Pope Francis kindly said it.

As a parent, I don’t feel guilty about bringing another tiny human on this Earth. I’m excited to be able to show him the masterpiece of God’s work in creation and in other human beings. I will continue to play an active role in saving Mother Earth, and I pray I’m able to show this little guy that he too has a role to play.

I’ve thought about this a lot. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the children of today and tomorrow will need us as much as they’ll need the next generations to continue maintaining and rebuilding Mother Earth.

Perhaps, it’s our children that will not only save Mother Earth, they’ll also save some of us. Despite our crisis, God isn’t done here. I’m confident his work goes beyond those of us here today.

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Edith Avila Olea is associate director of justice and peace for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. The 2015 winner of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award, she holds a master’s degree in public policy and a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication.