Sunday, July 26, 2015

Laudato Si: Sunday reflection #1... A prayer for our earth

I did it! This week, I finally finished reading Laudato Si, Pope Francis' recent encyclical letter, On Care for Our Common Home. If you haven't read it yet, the entire text can be found by clicking here.

I'll go out on a limb and say that Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home is the most important and relevant letter to the world ever written by a pope, and that everyone on the planet should read it. You don't have to be Catholic, or even Christian, for heaven's sake!

Of course, I know that not everyone will read it. Encyclical letters aren't everyone's cup of tea. Even the word encyclical can be intimidating. But really, it's probably the most readable encyclical ever written. No Papal "we" here. Not much flowery language. Francis made sure it was written in non church-ese so it would be accessible to everyone, because care for the earth has to be everyone's cup of tea -- we all live here.

So here's my proposal -- for the next 52 Sundays, I am going to offer some moodlings on Laudato Si, 5 paragraphs each week, for a couple of reasons. One, its ideas are important and imperative for the survival of our planet. Two, it is coming from a man who has both science and religion in his personal history, and who has taken his name and mission from the patron saint of ecology, simplicity, and nature, St. Francis of Assisi. And three, maybe the reflections and practical response of an ordinary lay person who has actually read Laudato Si might encourage more people to read it, think about our environmental and social crises, and find ways to act together to handle these crises before they become more than the earth can handle (there are already warning signs that we're reaching that point). I don't expect miracles very often, but it might be worth a try.

Originally, I was just planning to share a brief review of Laudato Si, but it deserves WAY more attention than that. So bear with me as I write, if you will, and please, feel free to share your own comments, questions, or arguments in the comments section below if you so desire. All respectful comments are worth discussing.

I'm going to start today at the very end of Laudato Si, with A prayer for our earth. I have one little bone to pick with Francis right here. The encyclical is addressed "to all people" and spends some time encouraging us not to engage in dualistic thinking when it comes to ourselves as separate from nature or one another, yet what do Francis and his writing team do? They divide readers at the very end by including two prayers, the first to be prayed by all believers, and the second, by Christians. In my mind, the first is enough! Why must Christians be separate? God is God, and probably doesn't care whether we use a trinitarian formula or not as long as we pray! So I will conclude all my Laudato Si Sunday reflections with the first prayer because I love to imagine standing with people of all faiths, and praying these words:

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.


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

Next up: #2... Turn that ship around!

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