One of the main priorities of our world today is the Care of Creation.
Pope Francis has devoted an entire encyclical to the environment.
The title of his encyclical, Laudato Si, was a deliberate echo of St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun. In the popular imagination, Francis of Assisi is remembered for preaching to the animals, but he was a man who understood more than anyone of his time how deeply interconnected everything on the planet is.
The encyclical is full of encouragement for us to take seriously the gift of our planet, but it is also a warning about what may happen and what is already happening environmentally. Pope Francis reminds us that the Earth is our common home and that people, as well as the rest of the created order, are suffering because of environmental degradation and exploitation. If the world continues to heat up then these things will only get worse. Today scientists are discovering this truth anew.
The Care of our Common Home has already been added to the traditional spiritual and corporal works of Mercy by Pope Francis. This, I feel, is very significant for the challenge to live out the Charism of Mercy in ever new ways.
“Mercy is from Age to Age”
Reflecting on how the invitation to nurture creation speaks to who we are and how we want to be in this world today, the following are some personal thoughts that surfaced from my ponderings:-
Being brought up in a city I remember the joy and excitement experienced as a child when it was time for our 6 week annual holiday on my grandparent’s small farm in County Cork. The magic of the countryside and of being close to nature in this idyllic environment left a deep impression on me in those early years. Today I notice that having the opportunity to be in the countryside nurtures and renews my spirit, especially after weeks and months of inner city living. Also, having time in places of natural beauty, for example in local parks, woodlands and coastal paths etc. does much to raise my heart and soul in praise of the Creator. Engaging and interacting with these places and landscapes are indeed transformative experiences, and they help me to appreciate that planet earth is indeed the sustaining work of God.
We can all influence one another to have an appreciation for our common home and, in turn, walk gently on the earth together. Over the years such influence has no doubt happened for us all on both a conscious and unconscious level. Living in community and engaging with other people, I have been impressed by their commitment to recycle, the responsible sourcing of food, saving and cherishing water and campaigning to protect the earth. The love and care for creation displayed by many of our Sisters I can recall vividly. Seeing them taking time to ponder the wonders of creation, for example in comments such as, “Did you notice the laburnum tree beginning to bud?” has often encouraged me to notice daily the growth and changes of the trees coming slowly into leaf. After such encouragement and interaction I could look around and see clearly and more deeply that which I had previously passed unnoticed.
The Call of Creation…Bishops Conference 2002 said:
“Individual actions may seem insignificant but together the small steps of many people can have an astonishing impact. Each person’s joyful choice can be a visible example to others and give them courage to take action.”
Why we must act on environmental issues
“Living in a way that honours rather than threatens the planet is living out what it means to be made in the image of God……..What we face today is nothing less than a choice about how genuinely human we want to be.” – Dr Rowan Williams
“Our responsibility is to cultivate and care for the earth in accordance with God’s command (Genesis 2:15). We are called, not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family. These two dimensions are closely related “- Pope Francis
Catherine Mc Auley believed that since “the Lord and Master of our House and Home,” our dwelling in Creation, “is a faithful provider,” we should “never desire more than enough. He will give that and a blessing.”
“The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of her. The earth is our mother; she will take care of us” – Sacred Dance