“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.”
These are the words that open Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology and care for God’s creation. These words, quoting St. Francis of Assisi’s beautiful canticle, remind us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’ was released in June 2015. Five years later, in 2020, Pope Francis invited all Catholics and people of good will to celebrate its fifth anniversary by protecting families and future generations through action to care for our common home. Laudato Si’ Week 2021, May 16-25, is the crowning event of the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, and a celebration of the great progress the whole Church has made on its journey to ecological conversion.
Here are themes that Pope Francis highlighted in Laudato Si’ which require our urgent response today.
- A Moral and Spiritual Challenge. The ecological crisis, Pope Francis writes, is a summons to profound interior conversion—to renew our relationships with God, one another, and the created world.
- Care for God’s Creation. God created the world and entrusted it to us as a gift. Now we have the responsibility to care for and protect it and all people, who are part of creation. Protecting human dignity is strongly linked to care for creation.
- We are All Connected. We are connected to the rest of the human family, to the created world, and to those who will come after us in future generations.
- Impact on the Poor. People in poverty have contributed least to climate change, yet they are disproportionately impacted by it. As a result of excessive use of natural resource by wealthy nations, those who are poor experience pollution, lack of access to clean water, hunger, and more.
- Called to Solidarity. We are one human family and have a shared responsibility for others and for creation. Wealthy countries have a responsibility to reduce consumption of non-renewal resources and should help poorer nations develop in sustainable ways.
- Technological and economic development must serve human beings and enhance human dignity, instead of creating an economy of exclusion, so that all people have access to what is needed for authentic human development.
- Supporting Life, Protecting Creation. Concern for nature is incompatible with failure to protect vulnerable human beings, such as unborn children, people with disabilities, or victims of human trafficking.
- A Time to Act. Pope Francis calls for a change in lifestyle and consumption. We can make important changes as individuals, families, and communities, and as civil and political leaders.
- Hope and Joy. “Injustice is not invincible” (no. 74) and we act knowing that we seek to live out God’s vision of renewed relationships with God, ourselves, one another, and creation
How You Can Respond
Each of us are called to take concrete steps – from reducing consumption to working for political change – to better care for creation. For more ideas, check out our Earth Day article.
- Become more aware of our connectedness. Care for one another and creation includes understanding that “everything is connected” (no. 91) and that the economy, politics, community involvement, and technology all affect the future of the planet and humankind. How can we become more aware of our connectedness?
- Changes to lifestyle and consumption habits can make a big difference. For example, get a reusable water bottle, take shorter showers, walk, bike or take public transportation instead of driving, recycle, compost food waste, and buy energy-efficient appliances.
- Make changes institutionally at your parish, school, or workplace. For example, start recycling and composting, use washable dinnerware in cafeterias, share electronically instead of printing, do an energy audit, and install solar panels.
- Support local efforts to solve environmental problems. Community groups around the country are working to make city, county, and state-wide changes that can make a big difference. Find out what is going on locally and get involved.
- Contact your members of Congress to share Pope Francis’ message and urge action to address climate change.
- Go on a family nature pilgrimage. Explore God’s Creation and learn more about appreciating each of His wonders as a family. (Source)
- Slow down and unplug. By the work of our hands God has blessed us with the ability to participate with Him in the creative cultivation of the world. Yet unending busyness, constant noise and addiction to technology often distract us from recognizing God in small places and quiet moments. God gives us the Sabbath as a day to give thanks and to rest in His love, centered on the gift of the Eucharist. Find time each day, especially on Sundays, for quiet moments to talk with and listen to God.
- Celebrate Beauty. God created the world as a gift and our common home. In natural beauty we see signs of the Father’s love for us, his majesty, and his blessings. Celebrating beauty draws us beyond our self-interest into appreciation and gratitude for all Creation. Take time to be outside! Find the natural beauty in your community, and in doing so offer thanks to God for the beauty of all created things, including one another.
- Make a commitment this week to serve the needs of the poor in a concrete way. Consider opportunities through Catholic Charities, the Catholic Action Center, or Catholic Relief Services.
- Practice small acts of love. An “integrated ecology” reminds us of our interconnectedness and our “duty to care for creation through little daily actions”. Being intentional about practicing small daily habits such as “turning off unnecessary lights” or not wasting food can be an “act of love” and help us live in solidarity with those in most need. Practice a new small act of love as a way of living solidarity with those in most need and being a more responsible steward of God’s gifts.