Sunday, May 26, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Doing our part

This week's reflection is brought to you by
Psalm 67.

Let all of creation praise you,
O God,
let all of creation praise you.

Human beings are too small
to sing your glory sufficiently.

I suspect that's why we have
ocean storms,
mountain meadows,
prairie skies
and everything else you have made.

Thank you
for being so gracious to us;
for letting your glory and goodness
surround us.

Anyone can see
your face
with the eyes of our souls --
your beauty, goodness and truth
can be found everywhere
that people remember to walk
in your love.

In those who become
your hands and feet
lies your way,
your saving power.

In spite of the challenges we face,
let us be glad and sing for joy.

You judge us fairly
and guide our ways.

You make all the spring beauty that surrounds us
and bless us beyond all measure.

Help us to cooperate with you,
with creation,
in creating more of your beauty, goodness and truth
for all those who cannot see it.

Awaken them to all that you have given,
so that we may all do our part
to care for your creation


* * * * * * *

I've been moodling (musing and doodling) a fair bit this week about whether Pope Francis' encyclical is really going to help change the world. I've come to the conclusion that it won't -- unless we remember that we are a big part of God's action in the world, and that if we want the world to change, we have to change ourselves, too.

This week's piece of Laudato Si, is about The Mystery of the Universe (paragraphs 76-80, which can be accessed by clicking here). I'm thinking that there are too many mysteries to count when it comes to the universe and God's care for one particular planet and its inhabitants.

Paragraph 76 notes that "Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion."

In paragraph 77, the Pope and his writing team assert that the creation of the universe wasn't a random occurrence or "arbitrary omnipotence," but rather, was the result of God's choice to create out of love, and that everything created exists because of that love. For me, it's impossible to imagine that everything surrounding us in creation is the result of  randomness. It makes more sense that something, Someone, namely our Tender God, enfolds everything with love and holds it in balance so that it continues to exist. And it has become rather obvious that humans' upsetting of that balance is the reason that things are starting to fall apart.

Ancient pagan religions saw nature as divine, and I can't help but wonder if that wasn't closer to God's intent than the Judaeo-Christian thought that "demythologized nature" according to paragraph 78. Demythologizing nature might have been fine if human beings had taken responsibility for valuing and protecting it the way God does, but it seems our connection to both God and nature have never been quite strong enough to hold everything in balance the way God does. We are only human, and we have periods of doubting God -- or forgetting that we are not God! More recently, the influence of "the modern myth of unlimited material progress" has led too many of us to Mammon (greed) rather than toward the wise direction, development and limitation of our powers as intelligent creatures created by God.

In paragraph 79 we find that "In this universe... we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation....We are free to apply our intelligence towards things evolving positively, or towards adding new ills, new causes of suffering and real setbacks...." God has given us choice, over and over again. In his letter to the world, Pope Francis reminds everyone of our duty to care for nature and protect humanity from self-destruction.

Thanks be to God that He and She is reliable. Paragraph 80 reminds us that God can bring good out of the problems human beings have caused. I love the line from Pope John Paul II's Catechesis: "The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity... which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, including the most complex and inscrutable." But we can't let moments of positivity lull us into a sense that God is going to fix everything without us lifting even a finger. Unfortunately, there are people on this earth who think that way, and they are part of the problem!

The Holy Spirit's infinite creativity resides in each one of us, and as Saint Teresa of Avila liked to say, we are all the hands and feet and heart of Christ. So now the question is, what are we going to do as part of God's action on this planet? How can we put the Spirit's creativity to work in ourselves, for our world?

It's becoming clear that we can't expect world leaders to make changes -- we need to push them, and to change our own lifestyles too. That means giving our communities and ourselves an energy audit. If we really want to prevent further climate change, we all need to become more aware of the places in our lives where we are creating needless carbon emissions, and reduce the size of our carbon footprint. Change begins with us.

75 years ago, hot water was pretty much considered a luxury, but now it's an expectation that creates a fair bit of waste if we really think about it. My parents talk about the "weekly bath" that was shared in their families. Our present culture likes our daily hot showers -- but since the last time I read this part of Laudato Si, I decided to only shower every second or third day to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who don't have the option of a daily shower. I'm also trying to shower for less than 5 minutes, hoping to slow climate change for the sake of my children and (future) grandchildren.

And there are many other things to consider. Are we willing to give up idling our cars? Using automatic car starters? (I saw a vehicle idling this gorgeous, warm spring morning -- why???)  Are we willing to use public transportation if the option exists? Are we willing to buy local food instead of exotic items that have to be trucked halfway across the globe? Where else can we cut our energy use?

What are we willing to do? And what would you like to ask our world leaders to do? Why not write a politician a letter to encourage them to see the environment rather than the economy as our communal bottom line?

One thing's certain -- things have got to change. And we have the power to start things rolling, even just in our own lives!

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