On the Feast of Pentecost five years ago (24 May 2015), Pope Francis unveiled his great encyclical on the environment: Laudato Si' (Praise Be). It is subtitled 'On Care for our Common Home' and is addressed not just to the Catholic Church, but to the whole of humanity as we face the global climate emergency.
The week of 16-24 May 2020 has been designated Laudato Si Week when we are asked to pray about caring for Our Common Home. Laudato Si' Week will end on Sunday, 24 May, with a global day of prayer.
The weeklong celebration is to honour Pope Francis' encyclical on ecology and climate change, and to encourage us to build a better world together.
Pope Francis has encouraged us all to participate in Laudato Si' Week through a short video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHlzOWp8ZQY&=&feature=youtu.be
Previously planned events for Laudato Si' Week are now not possible, but we can grow through the crisis of the current moment by praying, reflecting, and preparing together for a better world to come. The lessons of the encyclical are particularly relevant in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought many parts of the world to a halt.
Pope Francis, in a recent weekly address, said: "As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst." He went on to say, "As a single and interdependent family, we require a common plan in order to avert the threats to our common home."
Laudato Si' offers a vision for building a more just and sustainable world.
Reflection from Sr Margaret Atkins:
Out of the blue, most of the world was invited on retreat. We were forced to ponder our mortality, our vulnerability, our weakness, our ignorance. We were prompted to repent of the collective thoughtlessness of our modern way of life and its side-effects. We have had to slow down, to abandon our ordinary routines, to wean ourselves from the addictions of 'business as usual'. Our values have been overturned: care workers, fruit pickers, parcel packers and cleaners have become our new saints, while go-getters, celebrities and billionaires kick their feet in their own homes.
We have rediscovered our neighbours, and even our own families. We have shared our fears and anxieties; we have grieved together, even at a distance, for the wonderful individual human beings we have lost. We have publicly honoured courage, fidelity, and simple acts of kindness. We have learnt to value statesmanlike modesty, honesty and truthfulness over political bluster.
The religious among us have been praying more intensely, with more focus, than for decades, despite the disruption of our normal supports. And many, many others, who do not normally pray, have begun to join us, without embarrassment. We know that we cannot do this by ourselves.
And we have all been in this together: rich and poor, famous and unknown, old and young, strong and weak, from every corner of the globe, together, we have shared fear, anxiety, sorrow, compassion and love.
In our own country, at least, we were blessed with a backdrop of a glorious springtime. It was filled with birdsong we could hear, flowers we had time to notice, birds and animals that grew in confidence when we withdrew. "Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise?", wrote Pope Francis five years ago in Laudato Si'. Suddenly, the noise has stopped, and we have a chance to listen. Let us listen to the sounds of nature, let us listen to the tradition of our faith, and let us listen once again to the Holy Father's appeal. Re-reading Laudato Si' would not be a bad place to start:
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the Earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Five years on Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', remains a profound invitation to everyone on the planet to care for our common home. Laudato Si' Week is sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and facilitated by Global Catholic Climate Movement and Renova+ in collaboration with a cohort of Catholic partners. More information can be found at: www.LaudatoSiWeek.org.
Summary of Laudato Si' written by Sr Margaret: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/36883
Laudato Si' can be download at: https://cafod.org.uk/content/download/25373/182331/file/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si_en.pdf
Columban newsletter Vocation for Justice celberating the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si': https://columbans.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Newsletter-May-2020.pdf
Bishops' Conference of England & Wales at: www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/environment/
Film resources for discussion groups -could be done on-line eg through zoom: www.ourcommonhome.co.uk
Resources from the Global Catholic Climate Movement at: https://catholicclimatemovement.global/laudatosi/
Columbans Laudato Si' study guide at: www.columbans.co.uk/news/laudato-si-columban-study-and-action-guide/
CAFOD Laudato Si' study guide and prayers at: https://cafod.org.uk/Pray/Laudato-Si-encyclical
Actions can include CAFOD Climate Campaigns : https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Climate
Or becoming a livesimply community: https://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Livesimply-award
Praying with the Gospels, stories from around the world and excerpts from Laudato Si' from Liverpool J&P and CAFOD: http://jp.liverpool.org.uk/resources
Maggie McSherry is the Administrator of Lancaster Diocesan Faith & Justice Commission.
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