Laudato Si’ Lent Course – Session 4

Green Shoot

We continue the study and reflection on Laudato Si’, the encyclical on caring for our common home.

If you missed Session 3 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 4: Integral Ecology and Lines of Approach and Action

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.

Sharing from last week

What vision for Authentic Humanity (LS 112) did you take away last week?

We summarised the themes from Chapter 3 (in Session 3), recalling the paragraphs on Power, Technocratic Paradigm, Authentic Humanity, Practical Relativism and New Biological Technologies.


This week we will start with a meditation with help from some different views of the created world.

The Meditation is available here.

Opening Prayer

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

Silent Prayer

Praise be to You, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

Reading from Ecospirituality Resources

Ecosystems are comprised of interacting and interdependent organisms and their physical environment that developed mutually enhancing relationships over time. Thich Nhat Hanh [Tik N’yat Hawn] calls it “interbeing”.

Critics who complain that Pope Francis should stick to matters of faith and doctrine, or not get into science, politics, and economy, display the compartmentalized thinking the Pope is asking us to grow beyond. Everything is interconnected and cannot be “stuck to” separately. Not to act is as political as acting.

Chapter 4 – Integral Ecology

We introduce Chapter 4 by reading a quote from each of the five sections in groups. How do these quotes help us to understand better the term integral ecology? Which is your favourite? Which has the most impact on you?


It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. (138)


[T]here is a need to incorporate the history, culture and architecture of each place, thus preserving its original identity. Ecology, then, also involves protecting the cultural treasures of humanity in the broadest sense. (143)


In the unstable neighbourhoods of mega-cities, the daily experience of overcrowding and social anonymity can create a sense of uprootedness which spawns antisocial behaviour and violence. (149)


[T]he principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. (158)


Unless we struggle with [the world’s general direction, its meaning and its values], I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. (160)

Chapter 4 on Integral Ecology recognises that the billions of interconnections between us, our brothers and sisters, the natural world now and across time (connections from the past and into the future) call us to look at the “relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop” (LS 138) in a holistic or complete way, and from multiple viewpoints. Section I addresses the viewpoints of Environmental, Economic and Social Ecology. Section II addresses Cultural Ecology. Section III addresses Ecology of Daily Life – the quality of life in local neighbourhoods, the “we” in our immediate environment, including “human ecology”. Section IV addresses “The Principle of the Common Good”, “those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfilment” (LS 156). Section V addresses “Justice Between the Generations”. Perhaps understanding of the Common Good can include drawing from wider philosophical thought such as the seven basic goods as described by John Finnis: life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, sociability of friendship, practical reasonableness and religion.

Comments in our session on the various parts of Integral Ecology

  1. Interconnectedness is defined here using scientific descriptions – space and time being interconnected as are particle interactions. The scale of interconnectedness spans the very small to the very big
  2. It’s easy to appreciate the beauty of buildings. Christian buildings have become a cultural witness of a place. Even isolated church buildings tell us about the community around them. One church was mentioned where it is in-between farms and has no power supply: when a service starts people just appear.
  3. The poor in society are often housed in problem estates where there is little incentive to progress and develop. When tower blocks appeared they were a step up but now are not seen as such. Occupational justice where need to carefully consider exercise roles and responsibilities.
  4. Summarised as fulfilment.
  5. Justice between the generations explains the need for true sustainability – that enjoying something today should not preclude a future generation from enjoying that same thing in the future. We heard about the biophilic design of St Mary’s new primary school, going beyond carbon neutral.

The Letter Film

Prior to discussing Chapter 5 we recommend viewing 10 minutes from the film. Start at 48:25 and end at 58:07.

Start at 48:25 and end at 58:07

Chapter 5: Lines of Approach and Action

The film excerpt gives us a clear view of dialogues and the power of them. Here are some selected quotes from Chapter 5


[A] growing conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home … motivates us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries. (164)

As the bishops of Bolivia have stated, “the countries which have benefited from a high degree of industrialization, at the cost of enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, have a greater responsibility for providing a solution to the problems they have caused”. (170)

Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed … . Relations between states must be respectful of each other’s sovereignty, but must also lay down mutually agreed means of averting regional disasters which would eventually affect everyone. (173)


True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty in the work of nation-building. (178)

[L]ocal individuals and groups can make a real difference. They are able to instil a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. (179)


In any discussion about a proposed venture, a number of questions need to be asked in order to discern whether or not it will contribute to genuine integral development. What will it accomplish? Why? Where? When? How? For whom? What are the risks? What are the costs? Who will pay those costs and how? In this discernment, some questions must have higher priority. (185)


[O]nly when “the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations” [Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI], can those actions be considered ethical. (195)


Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well. (200)

In groups reflect on the quotes. Did anything surprise, comfort, confuse?

Present one quote to the wider group commenting on what your group thought about it.

Comments received back included a story about Cromford Mill. Once the site was selected for access to water power (250 years ago) but now we have rediscovered the potential for hydroelectricity: beginning to supply power to the garage, then hope to supply all the mill. There are old mills and weirs all along the Derwent into Derby and small projects could once again make a difference. Perhaps we don’t think on a small scale anymore, but communities can grow and make changes on a smaller scale. If groups work together then people become more humanitarian. Creativity is being fully human. We need to adapt and work together.

Scripture Reading

Psalm 34:2 (The Message)

I live and breathe God

2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message)

We look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created anew.


How might you connect the Scripture readings with the Encyclical quotes that we have looked at tonight?

For Next Week

I. What Can I Do? A bit of creativity and commitment.

For next week have a look through the actions on split between the 7 Laudato Si’ Goals. For creativity, come up with something that has been missed. Then pick an action that engages with you (either the one you have come up with or one on the list) that you don’t currently do and try to implement or plan it and share your thoughts on it next week. Readers can submit missed actions using the Contact page.

II. Optional Earth Hour

Why not try an hour without electricity? The last Saturday in March is Earth Hour but you could try an hour in any suitable evening. We suggest switching off all non-essential electricity and not to use fossil fuels for that hour. This provides an opportunity to experience a greater connectedness to nature and friends and family without the background buzz and whirr of our modern lives. Take an hour to see our common home in a new way. Think of it as a small action to “restore our sense of self-esteem… to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile” [Laudato Si’, 212].

III. Read Chapters 4 and 5 of the Encyclical

Final Prayer

Response: May we be blessed with courage.

That we will deepen our understanding that nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live (LS 139).

May we be blessed with courage.

That we will show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions.

May we be blessed with courage. 

That we will not only keep the poor of the future in mind, but also today’s poor (LS 162)

May we be blessed with courage.

That we may continue to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities (LS 165)

May we be blessed with courage.

That we may create a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis (LS 197)

May we be blessed with courage.

That we leave room for aesthetic sensibility, poetry, or even reason’s ability to grasp the ultimate meaning and purpose of things (LS 199)

May we be blessed with courage.

Yellow Flower
Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

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

The basic structure of this course comes from the Laudato Si Reflection Resource from Ecospirituality Resources. We thank Terri MacKenzie S.H.C.J. from the Society of the Holy Child Jesus for producing the Laudato Si Reflection Resource.

The full Laudato Si’ Encyclical is available here.