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What does it mean to be a “steward of the earth?”

It’s a bit deeper than merely recycling.

Then God blessed [the man and woman] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle and all the animals that crawl on the earth.’ —Genesis 1:28

There’s a lot of misunderstandings out there about man’s relationship to the environment. Unfortunately, a lot of theories tend to elevate creation above man and demonize the human presence on earth.

We know as Christians that man is infinitely above creation, since he is made in God’s image. And as the quote from Genesis above tells us, God placed man at the head of creation. However, with that gift comes a great responsibility to be a good steward of God’s creation. So how do we properly understand and practice true stewardship?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

After God created the world, he created man, and placed him in charge. Mankind was to tend the earth and all its creatures—to be, as it were, a guardian (or steward) of creation on behalf of God Himself.

As the Church tells us:

“In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church §2402

So, all of creation is primarily God’s, Who generously entrusts it to us. A steward does not simply take from his master’s land—he cultivates it in his master’s stead. We are called to be good stewards—enjoying the fruits of creation, but also caring for it with respect and gratitude to the God Who gave it to us.

Stewardship can manifest itself in many ways that extend beyond the natural world. It includes charity in our time, possessions, and money, and the development of our talents. God entrusts each of us with various gifts, not so that we can keep them for ourselves, but so that we can cooperate with Him in His work of salvation in the world. We must, therefore, always strive to cultivate our particular gifts for the good of others and the glory of God, knowing that we will be called to make an account of our stewardship when the Landowner returns.

St. Francis of Assisi was known for his love of God’s creation but also for his incredible humility, selflessness, and generosity to the poor—an exemplary steward in every way. Remind yourself to be a steward like St. Francis with our St. Francis Paracord Rosary. Intentionally designed to evoke the beauty of nature and survive the rugged elements, this rosary is perfect for any outdoorsy Catholic! Order yours today from The Catholic Company!

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