Saturday, August 6, 2016

Laudato Si: Sunday Reflection #50... The Grand Finale, period

I'm feeling a little emotional, believe it or not. It's been just over a year since we began to read Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home together, and it's been an interesting journey -- I know I learned a lot, especially from the footnotes of the document, which you can access by clicking here and scrolling down. The endnotes contain a lot of references to other important documents, many of which I hadn't heard of before reading Laudato Si. So if you are looking for more material about helping our sister, Mother Earth, to regain her equilibrium, I'd encourage you to check them out at your leisure.

With this last reflection, our year of study is over, can you believe it? And with garden harvest imminent, it's time to put my dog-eared, water-stained, highly-highlighted copy away (though I'll refer back to it often, no doubt).

I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have. The first time I read Pope Francis's letter from start to finish, I did it in a hurry, without too much thought about how it actually applied to my life. Writing these reflections forced me to slow down and consider the ways to apply Laudato Si's teachings every day, and gave me an appreciation for what weekly columnists go through! Sometimes it was a struggle to figure out how the Pope's words in particular sections translated into action, but there was always something.

Pope Francis and his writing team make it clear that human beings need to change our outlook on life from that of a self-centred, narcissistic, materialistic, and resource-gobbling society to one that is a generous, interdependent community of people who live simply so that creation can simply live. And for a Grand Finale to be really GRAND, we need to remember what we have learned in the past year and continue to apply it. The titles of Laudato Si's chapters (which it seems I somehow mostly managed to ignore) lay it all out:

Chapter One -- What is Happening to Our Common Home -- points out how very bad things have become for our planet and many of its inhabitants.
Chapter Two -- The Gospel [Good News] of Creation -- reminds us that all that surrounds us is God's gift, not just resources for our use.
Chapter Three -- The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis -- underlines human misunderstandings that have contributed to ecological and social dis-ease in our world.
Chapter Four -- Integral Ecology -- encourages us to see ourselves as one small part of the Big Picture rather than the pinnacle of creation, and to take our proper place in God's plan for the earth.
Chapter Five -- Lines of Approach and Action -- offers concrete things we can do to support the common good and to return our planet to better health.
And Chapter Six -- Ecological Education and Spirituality -- calls us to connect our belief in God present in all creation to the lifestyle changes we must make for the sake of our sister, Mother Earth, and all her inhabitants.

As promised last week, here's part 2 of my summary of what we can do to improve life for all creatures on our planet, some directly from and some inspired by our readings:
  • Support small, local businesses. Buy at farmer's markets when possible. If it's necessary to shop at big chain stores, opt for human cashiers instead of automated check outs.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude for the labour saving devices provided by technological advances.
  • Make choices in life with integral ecology in mind: What will this decision cost the planet? Who will be affected? Are fossil fuel emissions involved? Is this sound ecological practice?
  • Help struggling peoples in our world by supporting organisations that work WITH communities at the grass roots to create their own solutions.
  • Focus on the fact that God loves every person on the planet as much as She and He loves you and me.
  • Be welcoming and hospitable to people of every "stripe."
  • Make "fostering the common good" our superpower.
  • Decrease the size of our ecological footprints.
  • Take some simple steps to reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Appreciate organisations that works for a planet-saving cause by contributing to their efforts financially or actively and/or offering moral support.
  • Ask those with power to make positive environmental and social change to do so by phone, letter, email, or in-person conversation.
  • Question everything, asking: How does this contribute to an integral ecology? See where improvements can be made and work to bring them about. Take one small step to push change.
  • Sacrifice. Live with less.
  • Reimagine the world with sufficiency as goal. Educate our leaders toward that goal.
  • Participate in ecological/scientific discussions as people who bring a faith perspective.
  • Overcome individualism by broadening personal and local community and bring someone along with you to deepen their awareness. Groups can accomplish more than individuals in most cases.
  • Support ecological causes that focus on fixing ecological problems.
  • Say grace before and after meals. Don't miss an opportunity to give gratitude to God.
  • Do random acts of kindness for the earth and each other.
  • Appreciate and participate in weekly rest as an opportunity to relax and contemplate the Big Picture.
  • Remember that the world is in God's hands and frequently ask for God's help to meet the challenges our planet faces.
  • Remember that "everything will be okay in the end," one way or another, and sing as we go.
I've decided that I'll compile all these ideas into a little "Laudato Si Says" standard-sized paper poster, and if you would like a copy of it emailed to you (as a pdf file) you can email me (my e-address is under The Moodler profile on the sidebar). Anyone who asks will receive a copy to print up and post on the fridge, or at the office. Why not pique the curiosity of others who may never read Laudato Si?

There's no way to do justice to all of the thoughts in the Pope's letter to the world. All I've managed to do is share what struck my small intelligence and pull together some of the inspirations it brought me -- ideas about things we can all do to improve the health of our sister, Mother Earth, who supports all life as we know it (and probably life we can't even imagine). The true Grand Finale is how we do what is necessary to reduce the effects of climate change, fix other environmental and social problems caused by our human lifestyles, create more just and equitable societies, and treat everything with the love our Creator has for every single part of creation.

Over the past year, I have really come to love the prayer which concluded most of these reflections, so today let's pray it together one more time, in heartfelt supplication:

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

+AMEN.

(A prayer for our earth and all quotations from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home © Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

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