Laudato Si’ Lent Course – Session 1


This Lent we join with our brothers and sisters from different Christian traditions to study and reflect on Laudato Si’, the encyclical on caring for our common home.

This Lent course is loosely based on the Lent course from Ecospirituality Resources. Feel free to follow or adapt it for your community.

Week 1: Introduction

We acknowledge that participants come from different backgrounds and traditions and will have different expectations. We encourage listening and sharing from each other. Lent is a challenge and a journey towards Easter and this course may help with that journey.

The encyclical Laudato Si’ has as its title words of praise: “Praise Be” from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Creation.

Let us start with a prayer. Think of something good today – something to say “Praise be You, my Lord”. The Canticle is available online in a number of different translations

The response is “Praise be You, my Lord”

Most high, all-powerful, good Lord, …

Praised be You, my Lord,

Praised be You, my Lord,

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks

and serve Him with great humility.


Today we explore through Laudato Si’ why we should be specifically interested in the fate of our planet. Can faith communities play a part in looking after our common home? Do we need to leave it all to governments and scientists? Our faith journeys include listening, reflecting and being challenged. We are equipped to respond in our own ways to anything we are called to.

The world we live in is rapidly becoming a wilderness. Lent is a time we are called to be in a wilderness to cope with challenge and change.

Pope Francis when writing Laudato Si has drawn great inspiration from St Francis of Assisi and Assisi is a symbolic centre for work being done. The context of St Francis of Assisi is of interest. He lived in early 13th Century central Italy which was a turbulent polarized society economically, socially and politically. There was a rivalry between different groups in society: landed gentry, new merchant class and centres of power. The older empire was fragmenting and people started travelling more and learning was becoming more accessible: a time of poetry, travelling, music and troubadours! There was disease including malaria and war in the holy land. Despite all this Francis was able to write beautiful song and sing praises.

Further links:

A better understanding on the encyclical Laudato Si’ comes from looking at some of the influences that led up to this encyclical. It has been influenced by Roman Catholic social teaching including some of the major encyclicals of the later twentieth Century, recent developments in theological thinking on the environment, and from the secular world the development of scientific understanding and observations. Probably the roots can be seen in the early 1960s with Pacem in Terris (1963) and the Second Vatican Council. This is just after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in popular culture (1962). By 1990, Pope John Paul II wrote about the greenhouse effect and ozone layer in his World Day of Peace Message and in the scientific community there was growing consensus on the fundamental science and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) had just recently been established. Modern Catholic social teaching considers both the effect on humans and the poor and also to respect to non-human creation for reasons of love, not just utilitarian reasons.


1. Read The Crow by Pirandello and reflect on four questions

  1. If you were a villager what would be your reaction to the story?
  2. If you were the farmer, would you have acted in this way?
  3. And, if crows can think like us, what would the crow think about what happened to him?
  4. When might we have done things like those in this story?

2. Signs of the Times

Remember that Laudato Si’ pushes us towards action, after pausing and contemplating the particulars and frustrations of our local situations

Catholic social teaching gives us a framework of questions to ask when we encounter a new issue or event

  • Where is the suffering?
  • Who is suffering?
  • How and why?
  • Where is there structural injustice?
  • What are causes of the above?
  • Where is there violence and harm?
  • Are God’s good intentions being frustrated?

Think of a local environmental issue and review it in light of the questions above

3. A reflection from the Bible

Mark 1: 12-13

At once the Spirit sent Jesus out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

This is a very significant text as it sets the scene as Jesus prepares to bring in his Kingdom. Here are three possible explanations for Mark’s use of the phrase, “he was with the wild animals” all of which have been supported by various commentators.

  1. The wild animals are simply part of the setting in the wilderness.
  2. The animals are to be associated with the demonic and seen as allies of Satan in his attack on Jesus.
  3. Jesus is at peace with the wild animals as the paradisal state of humans and animals was supposed to be.

Discuss which of these you have assumed and which you have heard before. Which of these might be helpful in engaging with our current ecological context?

Ideas you may wish to bring into the discussion include

  • The Earth Community
  • What sort of Kingdom is Mark suggesting Jesus is inaugurating?
  • What, if anything, does it say of our relationship with animals?
  • How might this story of Jesus relate to our situation now?
  • Where, in this story are our leaders, our scientists, our prophets?

Final reflection

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (1899) by W. B. Yeats

Final prayer

For our riches this day Be praised, my Lord

For our mistakes this day Be praised, my Lord

For our opportunities this day Be praised, my Lord

For our homes this evening Be praised, my Lord

For our neighbourhoods this evening Be praised, my Lord

For our relationships this evening Be praised, my Lord

For our thoughts this night Be praised, my Lord

For our fears this night Be praised, my Lord

For our hopes this night Be praised, my Lord

May the Lord bless us and keep us.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious to us.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace.


Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

Note: Many thanks to Derby Cathedral and St Mary’s Derby for organizing this course and especially to Sheana and Stephen for preparing this session.

The full Laudato Si’ Encyclical is available here.