Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blowin' in the Wind: Pope Francis and Laudato Si'

(Blowin’ in the Wind is a regular feature on my blog consisting of an assortment of nature writings – hymns, songs, excerpts, prayers, Bible readings, poems or other things – pieces I may not have written but that inspire me or have given me joy. I trust they will do the same for you.)

Many of you have paid attention to the news this week and have read or heard of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Papal Encyclical on the environment. It is a landmark document, long awaited not only by the church but also by all who love God’s creation. Indeed, it is addressed to ‘every living person on this planet;’ How’s that for an audience? I guess a pope can do that.

Here’s something the New Zealand Herald said about it:

While the encyclical will influence the political debate, its most powerful impact could come in its instruction to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics through an "ecological conversion", transforming their own lifestyles to cut waste and end the "throwaway culture…” If taken as seriously as previous encyclicals, such as Humanae Vitae of 1968 which prohibited artificial birth control, it would mean millions of families committing themselves to cooking less food to avoid waste, switching off lights and recycling.
"Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur," the Pope said.

These can only be good developments.

I love the title, Laudato Si’, Latin for “Praise Be to You.” Subtitled “On the Care for Our Common Home,” the main title is taken from the first words of St. Francis’ great 13th Century hymn of praise for creation, Canticle of the Sun, about which I wrote in one of my earlier blogposts nearly two years ago. (I also wrote elsewhere on the hymn based upon St. Francis’ Canticle, All Creatures of Our God and King.) I find it lovely that the Pope chose to honor his namesake in this way.
Though the focus for my blog is going to be Pope Francis’ prayer included in the encyclical, here are several of the document’s key points:

- Christians have misinterpreted Scripture and "...must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures."

- The international community has not acted enough: "Recent World Summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment." He writes, "The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good."

- But individuals must also act. "An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness."

- Technocratic domination leads to the destruction of nature and the exploitation of people, and " itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion."

- Finally, by the way, what is one of the main tasks we have on earth, "...but to be stewards of God's creation?"

The Pope ended the document with a prayer for our Earth that he has asked Christians and others around the world to pray, one that connects faith with nature. (What a concept!) Will you join me in praying this?

High Lord, Who art present in the whole universe
and in the smallest among your creatures,
You who envelop with Your tenderness everything which exists:
You pour into us the strength of Your love,
So that we can take care of life and beauty.
Flood us with peace, so that we may live like brothers
and sisters without harming anyone.
Father of the poor, help us deliver the abandoned and the
forgotten of this earth that mean so much to you.
Restore our life, so that we may protect the world,
not so that we may plunder it,
so that we seed beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those that only look for advantages
at the expense of the poor and of the earth.
Teach us to discover the value of everything, to contemplate
with wonder, to recognize our being deeply united with all
creatures on our path toward your infinite light.
Thanks for being with us every day.
Please support us in our fight for justice, love and peace. Amen.

Amen and amen.

~~RGM, June 19 2015     

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