'Sign the Laudato Si Pledge, then live it'. That was the final message from Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, on film at the end of the Global Catholic Climate Movement's four-hour-long Season of Creation Laudato Si' virtual interactive Retreat on Saturday 12 September 2020.
"To sense each creature singing the hymn of existence is to live joyfully in God's love and hope" is a quote from Laudato Si' that began the retreat. This journey of ecological conversion includes reflections on the encyclical, guided meditation and small group reflection, and wonderful images, videos and song.
'Hearing Creation's Song' (Creation as song, message and art) was the first of three Moments that formed the core of the reflections, followed by 'Hearing Creation's Cry', then 'Hearing Creation's Call'.
Using the model of St Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures, 'praise with' and 'fraternity with' creation was explored, as was the idea of creation as a place of prayer (outdoors), as Jesus himself did ('going up the mountain to pray'). It reflected Pope Francis' September 2020 statement "the Earth from which we were made is a place of prayer and meditation".
Developing the practice of praying with the four elements was recommended: brother Air, sister Water, brother Fire, and mother Earth, extended by Gratitude and Sorrow (example: Praise be to you, My Lord, through Brother Air). There were questions then, for reflection.
The second Moment 'Hearing Creation's Cry' was a call for compassion, an invitation both to rejoice and to weep. We should feel the pain of the ecological crisis. The testimony of the scientific consensus was graphically portrayed by the video images of a pianist playing soulful music on a grand piano floating on an iceberg towards the melting Arctic icecap; and another of the Last Song of the Kauai O'o Bird. Since 1970 we have lost 52% of the bird, mammal, fish, reptile and amphibian populations. We are going beyond the Sixth Extinction.
The cry of Earth's creatures is paralleled by the cry of the poor: the injustice and crimes suffered by Indigenous peoples; the cry of children and the next generation - what kind of world will we leave to them? And there were images of typhoons in the Philippines, apocalyptic fires in California, and smoke from Australia covering Argentina.
In the third Moment, 'Hearing Creation's Call.' we were asked, 'How aware are we/am I of these cries? We were invited to dip our hands into a bowl of water and express symbolic tears for the sufferings of the earth, its creatures and its peoples, and to ask what we can do in the face of such suffering. What hope is there?
The answer lies in the combination of prayer (meditation) and activism reflected in the 'slow/fast' paradox: take time (slow) in response to song - there was a lovely video of the sparrow's song, and take action (fast) now in response to creation's cry - climate emergency. We must be simultaneously contemplatives and activists.
An interesting breathing activity illustrated the interconnectedness between eco-spirituality and activism: slow (inhalation) contemplative / fast (exhalation) active. The two paces reflect three areas indicated in Laudato Si'. First ecological conversion, then living more simply, and finally raising a prophetic voice (public pressure), demanding justice for the planet and for those most affected by catastrophic climate crisis.
Cardinal Tagle summed it up:
. Pray for and with Creation
. Live more simply
. Advocate to protect our common home
So, sign the Laudato Si' Pledge and live it: https://livelaudatosi.org/
Read more about the Global Catholic Climate Movement: https://catholicclimatemovement.global/
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