Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, the encyclical presented by Pope Francis in June 2015, has done both the world and its people a great service.
Laudato Si’ is an invitation to enter “a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
For our mission at Catholic Rural Life, we are studying this Encyclical Letter for what it had to say to farmers, ranchers and all those who favor a dignified rural life. We present these initial highlights:
FIRST, Pope Francis begins his letter with the phrase “Praise be to God,” acknowledging the generosity and love of our Creator who has given us life. We are all called to life, created in the image of God, with a distinct purpose!
SECOND, Pope Francis highlights the many crises we are facing on Earth, our common home: pollution, climate change, water contamination, loss of biodiversity and a general breakdown in society. In Genesis, God called women and men “to till and to tend the earth.” We have not done a good job “tending” the earth. Our common home has become a waste bin and is rapidly deteriorating. The pope cites agriculture as one of the areas that is contributing to water and soil pollution through overuse of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. And our most vulnerable brothers and sisters are feeling the brunt of the deterioration in many parts of the world.
THIRD, Pope Francis reminds us that we are created for integral relationships: with God, with our fellow human beings and with the earth. Sin breaks these relationships, and therefore we need the healing and forgiveness that God provides through His son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to love the Father and one another. Given the generosity of the Creator, believers have a responsibility to “care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters.”
FOURTH, the letter goes on to highlight various ways we can all exercise responsibility in healing our relationship with the environment and with human relationships. Pope Francis challenges those in agriculture to examine a more sustainable approach and to enter into dialogue. Through our program activities and outreach, Catholic Rural Life seeks to equip those in the food and agriculture industries with an understanding of how their faith can inform their work, underscoring the importance of stewardship of creation and the well-being of the human person in farm and food management.
FINALLY, Pope Francis calls all of us – in rural and urban communities alike – to a spiritual renewal, a conversion of heart and mind, that recognizes our errors, our sins, faults and failures, and leads to heartfelt repentance and a desire to change. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to address the ecological problems in our time. We all have a role to play in “coming together to take charge of this home that has been entrusted to us.”
Resources & Links:
Catholic Climate Covenant: “Care for Creation. Care for the Poor.”
Global Catholic Climate Movement: “For God’s Creation, the Poor, and Future Generations.”
Catholic Ecology (Blogpost of Catholic teachings on ecology)
Franciscan Action Network (grassroots organization to transform public policy)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Environmental Justice Program
Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours,
all glory, all honor and all blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Brother Sun, who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.
Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.
Praised be You my through Brother Fire, through whom
You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You my through our Sister, Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us, producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will. No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, And serve Him with great humility.