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Laudato Si’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Sept. 2, 2015

We continue our reflection on Laudato Si’ by noting that its introductory paragraphs set the sobering tone and lay out the framework of what Pope Francis will address in his encyclical. 

At the beginning of his document, the Holy Father makes a hopeful appeal for change as he prepares the reader to tackle Chapter One. 

Before we even begin to read the first chapter, one of the most important sentences in the entire document provides the flavor with which we should study and digest Laudato Si’: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” (#13) 

Does the Holy Father really believe that?  You betcha!  Do you? 

As we listen to the verbal missiles being hurled indiscriminately among our political candidates, suffer through seemingly endless legislative gridlock, and as we watch society sailing directionless with no rudders of values to guide us, where does such hope come from?

In a world where, increasingly, commitment is becoming a foreign concept and being faithful to God’s law risks the label ‘bigot,’ how is hope more than a pious dream? 

Upon what is such hope grounded?

How can Pope Francis claim that we possess a common home when, more and more, many seem to believe that fences and weapons make the best neighbors? 

Whether one believes that global warming is an urgent concern or just exaggerated hype, we cannot deny the great violence that human behavior is inflicting upon our environment. 

In the midst of the damage clearly seen, the Holy Father sees possibilities and appeals to every person to be a part of the solution.

Little pockets of change can inspire and make a difference. 

In addressing “every person living on this planet” (#3), Pope Francis pleads that each of us has a vested interest in caring for our environment. 

He tells us that the violence present in our hearts, our sinfulness, is reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. (#2) 

Yet, in the midst of such destruction, hope is real because we have the remedy for sin in Jesus Christ.  We can work together because Jesus has shown us the way.  The road is narrow, but passable.  The fuel for our efforts along the way must come from prayer, both personal and communal.  In fact, the Holy Father has invited us all to join the Orthodox Church and mark our calendars on September 1st, every year, as we celebrate the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of the Creation.” 

He sees this as a “precious opportunity to renew our vocations as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvelous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking His help for the protection of creation and His mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.” 

All who walk this earth face the same environmental challenge.  May our prayer lead us all to an ongoing conversion of heart.

It is with a spirit of determination borne of confident faith that we heed Pope Francis’ words and take up his challenge.

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