Laudato Si’ – Our Common Home
Begin with Prayer, then read Deuteronomy 22:1-4, 6-7
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and withhold your help from them; you shall take them back to your brother. And if he is not near you, or if you do not know him, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall be with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him.
And so you shall do with his ass; so you shall do with his garment; so you shall do with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he loses and you find; you may not withhold your help. You shall not see your brother’s ass or his ox fallen down by the way, and withhold your help from them; you shall help him to lift them up again.
If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall let the mother go, but the young you may take to yourself; that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.
In September each year the Christian family unites for a worldwide celebration of prayer and action for our common home. This year, the theme is “Jubilee for the Earth”. As Covid 19 put the world into lockdown we marvelled at the dramatic drop in air and water pollution, creatures returned to built up areas and it was as if the earth was freed to breathe. George Floyd’s cry ‘I can’t breathe’ touched us deeply during that time and is perhaps also the prophetic cry of the earth.
Read the Scripture again to yourself.
Share a word, phrase, or sense that touches you.
Season of Creation Reflection by Bev McDonald
On 24 May 2015 Pope Francis signed Laudato Si’, the social teaching encyclical that called the world’s attention to the precarious state of our common home. Five years on we are experiencing multiple “cracks in the planet that we inhabit” (LS, 163). Glaciers and arctic ice caps are melting, the Amazon and Australia burned before our eyes, there are extreme weather patterns causing unprecedented loss of biodiversity that sustains the very fabric of life. Pope Francis’ prophetic words continue to ring in our ears: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (LS, 160)
The poor communities around the world, Pope Francis states, are already the disproportionate victims of the current ecological degradation and we cannot remain indifferent any longer to the increasingly desperate “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS, 49). This fifth anniversary of the encyclical comes in the midst of the COVid pandemic – and Laudato Si’s message is just as prophetic today as it was in 2015. The Pope offers the moral and spiritual compass for the crucial journey to create a more caring, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world. We have a unique opportunity to transform the present groaning and travail, into the birth pangs of a new way of living together, bonded together in love, compassion and solidarity, and a more harmonious relationship with the natural world, our common home. COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we begin to envision a post-COVID world, we certainly need an integral approach as “everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis” (LS, 137). Something to bear in mind as we ponder our votes.
In paragraph 1 of “LAUDATO SI’”, the canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi reminds 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 us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.1
Paragraph 2 states; This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; the earth itself “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. To try and make sense of it I imagine if my parents gave me a beautiful home and farm to live on and work and I trashed it, would I be giving gratitude and respect to my parents? God has gifted us with creation and everything we need to both live and sustain it.. but how are we caring for it? And how does that give glory to God?
In paragraph 14 Pope Francis says, I urgently appeal, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. …Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, a nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. 22
COVID-19 has made clear how deeply we are all interconnected and interdependent. As we begin to comprehend a Covid world, we need above all an integral approach as “everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis” (LS, 137). The Dicastery (the Vatican Department) for Promoting Integral Human Development has announced a ‘Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year’. It started in May and it continues through to 24th May 2021. We’re going to make it something of a theme throughout our talks during this time, asking ourselves how we can participate in this time of grace and “Jubilee” for the Earth, for humanity, and for all God’s creatures.
The year will offer several initiatives, realized in partnership with an emphasis on “ecological conversion” in “action” and everyone is invited. The urgency of the situation calls for immediate, holistic and unified responses at all levels – local, regional, national and international. As Pope Francis reminds us, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (LS, 14) We need, above all, “a peoples’ movement” from below, an alliance of all people of good will. Fr John Larsen invited us to be like the first Marists and discern the signs of our times. The Church is inviting each of us to add our own reflections and discernments, our own celebrations within our local communities in the year ahead. So let’s join together and explore ways that we can care for our common home.
God bless, Bev McDonald
Simply Use these Questions as Starters to Guide Your Sharing
1.What stands out for you from the Scripture or the reflection?
2.Pope Francis says, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” Share some things you are doing or could begin to do, as an individual, family and group.
3.While September celebrates the Season of Creation, the ‘Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year’ started in May and continues through to 24th May 2021. Brainstorm practical steps to encourage your parish to get involved and support this crucial ‘sign of our times’ mission.
Pray together then conclude with this prayer:
During this Season of Creation, we ask you to grant us courage
to observe a Sabbath for our planet.
Strengthen us with the faith to
trust in your provision.
Inspire us with the creativity
to share what we have been given.
Teach us to be satisfied with enough.
Send Your Holy Spirit to renew
our commitment to be faithful
stewards of all God’s gifts,
living with mercy and compassion.
In the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, creator
and lover of all creation. Amen.