We continue the study and reflection on Laudato Si’, the encyclical on caring for our common home.
If you missed Session 1 you can find it here
This Lent course is loosely based on the Lent course from Ecospirituality Resources. Feel free to follow or adapt it for your community.
Week 2: What is Happening to Our Common Home
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.
We start with a song of praise Laudato Si’ Celebration with thanks to the African Franciscans (Office of Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation, Franciscans Africa) and the Waka Waka Band.
A suitable short prayer is fine or the one proposed in the Ecospirituality Resources:
Loving Creator Spirit, we ask that the spirit of Christ and of St. Francis be present in our hearts and minds as we ponder what Pope Francis has written.
Praise be to You, my Lord
Sharing from last week
Last week we looked at the introduction of the encyclical, why it was written, the significance of St Francis of Assisi to it and how it aligns in the context of modern Roman Catholic social teaching, developments in wider theological thinking, changes in perception of our planet in secular culture and the increasing observational evidence and concern from the scientific community.
Some spent the last week watching and being more aware of the natural world around us: we can so easily miss the beauty of a bird landing on a branch if we do not look. For some Yeats’ poem struck a chord and there was an interest in watching The Letter Film. The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins were noted as being of relevance. Poets and Artists, it was noted, can be excellent observers of the natural world and can become our eyes and ears to the Earth and to created life.
Introducing the 7 Laudato Si’ Goals
As we read through the encyclical we can see seven themes emerge. These are called the Laudato Si’ Goals and are shown in the image.
Genesis in Reverse
GENESIS IN REVERSE In the beginning was the earth. It was beautiful. And man lived upon the earth. And man said: “Let us build skyscrapers and expressways”. And man covered the earth with steel and concrete. And man said: “It is good”. On the second day, Man looked upon the clear blue waters of the earth. And man said: “Let us dump sewage and waste into the water”. And man did. The waters became dark and murky. And man said: “It is good”. On the third day, Man gazed at the forests on the earth. They were tall and green. And man said: “Let us cut the trees and build things for ourselves. And man did. And the forests grew thin. And man said: “It is good”. On the fourth day, Man saw animals leaping in the fields and playing in the sun. And man said: “Let us trap the animals for money and shoot them for sport. And man did. And animals became scarce. And man said: “It is good”. On the fifth day, Man felt the cool breeze in his nostrils. And man said: “Let us burn our refuse and let the wind blow away the smoke and debris”. And man did. And the air becomes dense with smoke and carbon. And man said: “It is good”. On the sixth day, Man saw many kinds of people on the earth, Different in race, colour and creed. And man feared and said: “Let us make bombs and missiles in case misunderstanding arise”. And man did. Missile sites and bomb dumps chequered the landscape. And man said: “It is good”. On the seventh day, Man rested. And the earth was quiet and deathly still. For man was no more. And it was good. Anonymous
Laudato Si’ quotes from Chapter One.
Cut out these quotes and distribute them around your group to discuss in smaller groups. Do these surprise, encourage, confuse? How do you feel about them?
Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. (25)
There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. … Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. (25)
Our world has a grave social debt toward the poor who lack access to drinking water … there is little awareness of the seriousness of such behaviour within a context of great inequality. (30)
[A] sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. (34)
Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. (42)
The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. (48)
It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. (49)
People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption. (55)
[E]conomic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment … environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. (56)
This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen. (59)
Try and collect your thoughts from these quotes on a sticky note and put it against the Laudato Si’ Goal it most closely aligns with.
In our session the quotes gave us thoughts which we aligned as follows (some could be aligned differently because some of the problems span a number of the themes):
|Response to the Cry of the Earth|
|“While 99% of scientists believe climate change is man made, ordinary people thought the scientific community was more divided (predicting that 65% of scientists believe it is) (King’s College research)”|
|Response to the Cry of the Poor|
|“Not hearing the link between the migrant and the environment in the mainstream debate”|
|“Excluded: 1) our local community; 2) do we examine ourselves when chasing cheaper goods 3) Fairtrade producers and those struggling to exist in drought and flooding”|
|“Fairtrade fortnight. The endangered aisle – 50% of banana growers challenged by climate change, 25% cocoa growers”|
|“Technology advances a mixed blessing. Can help increase food production but is this sustainable and who benefits?”|
|Adoption of Simple Lifestyles|
|“How much inconvenience will we tolerate?”|
|“Forming habits rather than occasional or exceptional actions”|
|“Disagree about little awareness for 30 because there is great awareness now. Who persuaded us to drink bottled water?”|
|“How widespread is growing ecological sensitivity?”|
|“It doesn’t affect me until it affects me. We are the problem, and now we have to be the solution. If we other ‘other’ people, we make them less than human”|
|Community Engagement and Participatory Action|
|Nothing put here, but we noted that this event is here.|
Read from two different Bible versions by two different voices.
It may be convenient to use Bible Gateway for this
How do we make sense of the conflict between our experiences and God’s promises of blessing? Discuss in groups.
Psalm 116:9 (Authorized (King James) Version)
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
Psalm 116:9 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)
I walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
How do we walk before the Lord in the land of the living?
Discuss actions to take this week in groups.
Practical actions to get the thoughts started can be found in “What Can I Do?” resource section on the website livinglaudatosi.com here
Bring the groups together and share final thoughts and if anyone wants to share an action they intend to take this week
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.
Note: Many thanks to Derby Cathedral and St Mary’s Derby for organizing this course and especially to Carla and Gervas for preparing this session.
The full Laudato Si’ Encyclical is available here.