Sunday, April 7, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday reflection: Participating in a new thing

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Isaiah 43:16-21.

who have saved your people
time and time again,
you tell us,
"Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?"

You make a way where there was none before
and provide for our needs before we even know them ourselves.

All that you have made will honour you,
for you care for us whom you formed for yourself.

May we care for your creation
so that every creature can live in peace and justice
and declare your praise to the ends of the universe.


* * * * * * *

Did you hear Monday's news about Canada's Changing Climate Report, put out by scientists with Environment and Climate Change Canada? The news that, on average, Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world filled me with a deepening sense of doom, and the feeling that I need to do more to reduce my impact on the planet. If we think last year was bad with its storms, droughts, fires and floods, how much worse will it get? I don't like to dwell on it, and the only way to handle those dark feelings is for me to push more positive ways.

The more modern reading of this week's reading from Isaiah above reminds me that our global climate crises all stem from the fact that human beings have forgotten how to appreciate and be thankful for the many, many blessings we receive from God, who created our sister, Mother Earth. Unfortunately, in our forgetfulness, rather than cooperate with God and find new ways to live more sustainably, too many of us imagine that we are entitled to more than our earth can logically provide to each person on the planet. Most of our earth's ills can be traced back to greed.

This week's reading of paragraphs 60-64 of Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home (click here to access it) is a wrap up of Chapter One, What is Happening to Our Common Home, and a brief introduction to Chapter Two, The Gospel of Creation (how I like that idea -- creation as good news).

Paragraph 60 points out two extremes of opinions regarding how to deal with the ecological problems our earth is facing, one being the myth that progress and technology will solve all our problems, and the other the idea that human presence, impact and intervention on earth needs to end. Of course, the real answer lies somewhere in between. The trick to living well is always finding the right balance, the place of sufficiency rather than too much or too little.

Now that we've made it through Chapter One, we've seen the many ways that "our common home is falling into serious disrepair" (paragraph 61). Looking at all these ecological and social problems, Pope Francis explains that we need to be a faith community that understands the importance of hope in finding the way out, redirecting our steps, and solving our problems before we reach the breaking point. If I'm reading the world correctly, more and more of us are attempting to simplify our lifestyles in an attempt to slow "the rapid pace of change and degradation" simply because the breaking point is a scary place to live! And we're inviting others to join us in our efforts, which is a really good thing.

In paragraph 62, the idea that "science and religion can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both" is mentioned. Science's logical approach combined with religion's faith-based hope have more of an opportunity to 'make things right' than either could alone. It's kind of like my own relationship with my husband. He's the engineer, the scientist, the logician who works with his head, and I am the gardener, the artist, the facilitator dealing in heart practicalities. Together, we're an excellent team, if I do say so myself, because we bring different gifts and talents to bear on our marriage's challenges. Likewise, science and religion can find balanced solutions to earth's problems by working together, science's thought processes with religion's belief in beauty, goodness and truth.

Pope Francis is insistent when he says that we need more than one way of looking at the complexities of our ecological crises -- "no branch of sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with philosophical thought; this has enabled her to produce various syntheses between faith and reason. The development of the Church's social teaching represents such a synthesis with regard to social issues; this teaching is called to be enriched by taking up new challenges" (paragraph 63).

If you haven't read about Church social teachings, click here for a wonderful explanatory webpage from Development and Peace. Why not take a few moments to check them out? They have so much to say about how our world should and could work. I can't help but feel that if we applied them not only to human life, but to all of creation, our world would be in much better shape.

Laudato Si reminds us that faith convictions can offer Christians and other believers "ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of [our] brothers and sisters" (paragraph 64). In his message for the 1990 Day of World Peace, St. Pope John Paul II spoke of how Christians "realize that [our] responsibility within creation, and [our] duty toward nature and the Creator are an essential part of [our] faith." When our faith moves us to act responsibly, there is always hope.

And when we remember that all of creation is a gift into which we have been born, there is always gratitude, which prevents us from taking things for granted. If we hold onto gratitude, we're more likely to use our blessings wisely. And we're more likely to participate with God in bringing about the new things with which God wants to gift us.

I know I've posted the song below more than once, but to me, it's a gorgeous reminder of our many blessings, showing so many reasons to continue on in hope and gratitude.