As I type this, I have the extreme pleasure of gazing over my own little corner of God’s creation. I’m home for a few weeks and soaking up the beauty of the Valley while I play “beat the clock” against a book deadline. I’ve found that it’s easy and pleasurable to take my laptop and sit on our backyard swing. From this vantage point, the hum of my neighbors air conditioning unit doing battle with the 100+ degree temperatures melds with the birds’ songs to beautiful effect. Focus comes more easily out here, and being here feels less like “work” and more like creating.
My focus for the last several weeks has been on the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare as I share their stories in Chime Travelers Books 3 and 4 (due to my publisher on July 3rd). So today’s official launch of the papal encyclical Laudato Si “On Care for Our Common Home” came as a greatly welcomed gift but also as a temptation away from the task at hand. What I would love to do is print the document, grab a yellow highlighter and my journal, and lock myself in my treehouse for three days reading and studying it. I want to stop following the hashtag on Twitter, turn down the pundits on television, and simply read the document for myself.
But as is usual, three days in the treehouse is not going to happen anytime soon. I already did one brief media interview this morning on some of the portions of the document (see paragraphs 102-114) and felt called to share something here too with initial reactions to the document. Several portions of that particular section truly spoke to my heart, including:
Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.
Admittedly not having read it yet in full, Laudato Si is for me a fatherly reminder that I have a place in creation, that my choices matter and impact others, and that stewardship of God’s gifts is part of my duty as a Catholic Christian. The message comes as a perfect compliment to my child-like studies of and writings on the lives of Francis and Clare.
In the document, Pope Francis teaches us:
At the conclusion of this lengthy reflection which has been both joyful and troubling, I propose that we offer two prayers. The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.
In advance of reading the encyclical in its entirety, I intend to pray the prayer at its conclusion as a part of my Morning Prayer. We may not have time for a few weeks to fully digest the teachings of the document, but I believe that praying this prayer offered by the Holy Father in conjunction with his intentions in the teaching will lead me closer to what God intends my role to be as a steward of our world and all of God’s creatures. I invite you to do pray with me.
A prayer for our earth
(from Laudato Si, p. 246)
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
hat we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
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!