By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook
A spirituality and gardening workshop from the Institute for Mission (IFM) teaches parishioners about faith and care for the natural environment.
‘Growing Herbs and Growing Faith’ is the name of the IFM’s two hour workshop, run by Charbel Dib, Resource Coordinator at the IFM.
“You’re going to get your hands dirty,” Charbel said.
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home inspired this workshop, which draws on scripture, documents of the Church’s magisterium and science to explore the beauty of creation in Catholic theology.
Participants physically plant seeds for seasonal varieties of herbs, ones that will come in handy in the kitchen.
Past herbs include thyme, oregano, mint, parsley and rosemary. Rosemary is named in honour of the Blessed Virgin because of its blue flowers.
Small wide pots, soil and seeds are provided in the workshop. A reflection is prayed over the seeds and the soil. Participants keep their pots and watch the herbs grow at home.
The scriptural component focuses on Creation in the Book of Genesis. It reveals one of humanity’s vocations is to be custodian of nature.
The scientific component looks at the natural beauty of the Diocese, such as in the Blue Mountains and Wentworth Falls.
Charbel learnt a great deal about ecological spirituality when researching for the workshop.
“The more I looked into it the more I realised how important and central it is to our faith.”
“We also look at the beliefs of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.”
The workshop has been held twice so far, at the Institute for Mission and at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst. The workshop requires at least ten participants to proceed.
The workshop is aimed at interested participants from all of our diocese’s cultural backgrounds but Catholic Outlook was interested to asked Charbel about the significance of the Cedar of Lebanon, often referred to as Holy Cedars because of their spiritual significance. Mayor of Parramatta, Tony Issa, planted one in Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta, next to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Charbel is a Maronite Catholic Sub-Deacon.
“The cedar is the holy tree and has lots of symbolism behind it. The cedars are mentioned many times in the Old Testament. Solomon brought them from Lebanon to build his Temple in Jerusalem.
“In New Testament times the cedars grow where the Maronite monks retreated to pray and find shelter.
“There are many different versions of the meaning behind the Holy Cedar tree.”