Time to Remember and Implement Laudato Si’ – on its 5th anniversary

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We continue our series to mark the 5th Anniversary of Pope Francis Encyclical Laudato Si’ – On Care for our Common Home with material written by Sr Anna Byrne, Daughter of Charity, Chaplain in St Louise’s Comprehensive College, Belfast.  Sister Anna sees this time as a valuable opportunity to ensure that Laudato Si’ is revisited and actioned.

 The earth our common home is suffering. Misuse, often through lack of reverence and thought, has impelled us to seek profit rather than to care for God’s earth – our most precious gift.  We have taken our beautiful home for granted which in the words of Pope Francis is ‘looking more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (Paragraph 20). May 24th this year marks the 5th anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’. This encyclical has contributed considerably to the Church’s social teaching ‘on care for our common home.’  Jeffery Sachs called it a ‘great and timely gift to humanity(America Magazine 06.07.2015 ) and Pope Francis called for a prompt and global response. Unfortunately, our response over the five years has been neither prompt nor globalised. Surely, now is our opportunity when coping with the Covid-19 imposed restrictions and the frequent reminders that we can expect a very different world, to ‘seek a new beginning’ and encourage a culture of care for the earth. This will involve above all responding to the cries of people struggling with poverty because of global economics.

Laudato Si’ is a long but rewarding read.  The first part outlines how and why our earth and the majority of its population are suffering. The content is under pinned by modern science- lending credibility to the discussion. Having outlined the suffering of ‘our common home’ the Pope encourages us to own up to and take responsibility for our part in causing the suffering. In conclusion the encyclical introduces ‘integral ecology’ (225) as a way of highlighting the unique place of humans within creation. Being in that unique place Pope Francis challenges us to renew our lifestyles in harmony with God, our fellow humans and nature.

This time of ‘social distancing’ gives us ample opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the document and ‘to seek a new beginning’ by embracing some habits suggested by Pope Francis. These suggestions range from a way of achieving inner peace (227) and to reviving the practice of praying ‘the grace before meals’ (227) as a way of being more aware of food as a gift from God.  We are reminded, in paragraph 206, that ‘purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic -act’ and that ‘less is more’, a value cherished  in many religious traditions.(222)  Paragraphs 228 and 231 provide an excellent discussion of fraternal and social love. The themes mentioned here are intended merely to whet the appetite and give a flavour of the many aspects explored in Laudato Si’. It is, perhaps, one of the most accessible and practical documents to come from the Vatican. The encyclical and study guides, available on the web, support the reading of what is a most encouraging and enlightening read. Enjoy!

 ‘May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope
(Paragraph 244)

To assist readers to read more and to grow in appreciating Laudato Si’, Sr Anna has taken the time to compile a list of resource items.  Links to these are listed below.  

a) 2020 the year to stop and make us think – A short video called The Great Realisation – a bed time story of how it started, and why hindsight’s 2020  Click here

b) Song : ‘Who’s gonna stand up? (And save the earth)’ Neil Young Click here

c) A Readers Guide to Laudato Si’   A seven page, overview of the Encyclical  Click Here

d) Further quotations from Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si

Together we can solve the problem

‘Everything in the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.’ (Paragraph 92)

The earth’s resources are for all

‘Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.‘ (Paragraph 93)

We humans and other creatures depend on each other

‘Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.’  (Paragraph 86)

The Church has two duties to care for nature and protect humans from themselves

‘The work of the Church seeks not only to remind everyone of the duty to care for nature, but at the same time she must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.’  (Paragraph 79)

The well-being of all is dependent on each one of us living a balanced lifestyle

‘Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good… because it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life.‘  (Paragraph 225)

 ‘May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.’ 
(Paragraph 244)

With thanks to Sr Anne Byrne for sharing the above.

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