Wherever we are on our journey in faith, whether taking steps as an enquirer, or moving forward as one who has entered into a process of formation in the Christian life, or as one newly baptised, now living as a member of the Body of Christ, Pope Francis’ new encyclical Laudato Si’ is for you. It is for all of us! It gives us a place to ‘stop and stare’ and take a long loving look at the world, our beautiful common home, and ask some important questions that move us away from any sort of formulaic religious response or solely ‘head based’ ideas to something very earthy and real:
What does the voice of creation and nature itself tell us about God and us being at home together?
- Pope Francis uses the canticle of St Francis to remind us ‘that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace’ LS1
- ‘the book of nature is one and indivisible’ (Benedict XVI), and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations’ …. ‘ creation is harmed where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone… the misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognise any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves’ LS 6
I wonder, how do people held in poverty give us a lens through which to see the world? What is our practical response?
- ‘I believe that St Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. … He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast…. he lived in simplicity and wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace. LS 10
- A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. LS91
- Lack of housing is a grave problem…. not only the poor, but many members of society find it difficult to own a home. Having a home has much to do with a sense of personal dignity and the growth of families…. How beautiful those cities which overcome paralyzing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! LS152
- What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? LS 160
Sunday as a day of rest and reflection? What connections can I make?
- The law of weekly rest forbade work on the seventh day (Ex 23:12). Rest opens our eyes to the larger picture and gives us renewed sensitivity to the rights of others. And so the day of rest, centred on the Eucharist, sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor. LS 237
What ‘light’ do I have to live differently this week, in greater concern for for all creation including all people who live in poverty?
Can we join in this part of Pope Francis’ prayer that leads to action:
Holy Spirit, by your light you guide this world towards the Father’s love, and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good. Praise be to you!
God of Love, who us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight. Enlighten those who posses power and money that they may avoid the sin of indifference, that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.