Laudato Si’ Lent Course – Session 5

Yellow Flower

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

If you missed Session 4 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 5: Ecological Education and Spirituality


In this final chapter of our journey, we welcome all who have joined together in our fellowship. This course has joined together communities. We hope it is a start of something. That we will continue to have initiatives and walk together as friends in Christ.

This Lent we have considered what we want to give up in order to make our lives closer God. And in a small way, through this course of common concern for the Created Earth, we have seen how to make relationships closer to each other.

Fasting Prayer

We open with a prayer widely attributed to Pope Francis

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

We ask this in Jesus’ name



Tonight is the last night. What have we learnt? Where do we start? Who walks with us? How can we work?

a) We started in the wilderness of Lent

b) We have looked at wide variety of both local and global issues

c) We have looked at negatives, tried to find the positives. Considered hopes and acknowledged fears. The immense detail. The implications.

d) We’ve been influenced by church teaching, theologians, scientific papers, poets, musicians

e) We’ve looked at the timeline showing how thought has developed especially over the last few decades

And all this we have tried to put in the context of faith: a creator God, a loving God.


Each week we have read and linked to specific Bible passages. This week we look at Psalm 51: a Psalm that begs for God’s mercy. We take two translations to better understand the passages.

Psalm 51: 12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51: 12

Bring me back from grey exile, put a fresh wind in my sails.

Psalm 51: 15

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Psalm 51: 15

Unbutton my lips, dear God, I’ll let loose your praise.


In groups reflect on

  • What stood out for you in these sessions?
  • What surprised you?
  • What did you find difficult?
  • What was new or re-learnt?

Feedback from the groups included

What stood out for you in these sessions?

Interactions especially from Session 4. Getting to know the Encyclical. A lot of depth in Laudato Si’. A human person talking to humanity. The application of Catholic social teaching and how it reaches into all sorts of areas. How fundamentally challenging this subject area is. Joint work between the churches. Matched attendance between the denominations and that the numbers held up well through the course. The learning style and content. The context when viewed over the last centuries.

What surprised you?

How far we’ve come in such a short time from our views in the early 1960’s to now. We’ve changed enough to become caring enough. Enjoyed the level of conversation. Been a joy to be present.

What did you find difficult?

The challenge to make real changes. Always more to say: if we did have more time the conversations probably would never come to the end. Careful we don’t feel failure because we haven’t come to the end of the discussion. It has been stimulating but at the same time challenging. How to discuss with other people.

What was new or re-learnt?

Cultural ecology. Valuing our architecture and buildings. A new perspective on churches being abandoned: something spiritual remains in buildings even when the communities have gone. Consideration of our working environments. Not previously made link to climate issues. Reading the Encyclical. Shear enormity of the problem. There is the potential for bringing all of humanity together and this could be our collective salvation. Hope.

Chapter 6 – Ecological Education and Spirituality

Distribute these quotes spanning all sections of chapter 6 to the groups. We found that two quotes were sufficient to start developing good discussions. Using these quotes as a start, discuss “how can we use our faith in our interactions and to develop our own personal connections and growth”. Does having faith make a difference?

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. (202)


Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects individuals. (203)

[O]ur concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. (204)

“As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life”. [Earth Charter, 2000] (207)


Our efforts at education will be inadequate and ineffectual unless we strive to promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature. (215)


Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. (217)


An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered”. [Evangelii Gaudium, 2013] (225)


[A]long with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. (231)


Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love … the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment … (236)

Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. … the day of rest, centred on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor. (237)


Creatures tend towards God, and in turn it is proper to every living being to tend towards other things, so that throughout the universe we can find any number of constant and secretly interwoven relationships. … Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity. (240)


Mary … now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. … now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. (241)


In union with all creatures, we journey through this land seeking God … May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope. (244)

Discuss “how can we use our faith in our interactions and to develop our own personal connections and growth”. Does having faith make a difference?

Comments were collected against a few of these and are shared below

203Does consumerism satisfy the soul? It seems that the emptier a person’s heart is, the more it requires. We are being manipulated to consume more and more. Most people are now better off, but probably not better off for it. As people of faith, we hear Jesus speaking a lot about money in his stories. I am not consuming it, it is consuming me.
204The circle of consumerism: must have more, must have latest. Children are neglected. They are managed, but are they ever listened to? A hamster wheel we need to manage and buy into. Ultimately people are not listened to – our voices are not heard and not listened to and this becomes dehumanising. This can overtake their strength and integrity. It was noted that when some protesters were given the opportunity to speak, they kept repeating that nobody is listening.
217What can we do next? The more people you have the more effective it will be. How do we do our bit? How to see the wider global picture and connect to a wider network? Becoming an /animator with the Laudato Si Movement/ is an option for connecting with a wider network.
225What are our ideals? In the UK we value owning our own houses. Success is measured in terms of achievement. But what about other things? If we lose the grasp of the spiritual then we fail to see a different view of life. How does Laudato Si’ as a document speak to those involved in radical action? Perhaps admirable outlook but potential difference when direct action harms. We see that an obsession with a consumerist lifestyle … can … lead to violence and mutual destruction (LS 204). What we might be seeing is a direct result of consumerism.
236The liturgy is the source and summit of Christian life. In the second Vatican Council, the first document was about the liturgy. We hear in the eucharistic prayer the words “fruits of the earth and work of human hands” for both the bread and wine. In some senses the whole of creation is giving praise.
237The Sabbath is an act of giving rest to the land and rest to the workers. The challenge to society today is that of taking it easy and taking a rest, at least on one day in the week. Perhaps we need just to slow down. Laudato Si’ does talk about Rapidification and preserving the Sabbath and slowing down may help redress the balance. Lack of balance is, in some circles, a dis-ease and we must seek how we can get life back into balance. How can we receive God’s gifts in grace? Living in the moment and working slowly. In the past there were great physical stresses on communities and on people. Now it seems that we enjoy relatively low levels of physical stress, but with rapidification instead we have now very high levels of mental stress.
Comments relating to the quotes above as collected in our session.

Final Part

What are we actually going to do?

It is unlikely that Pope Francis’ idea when writing Laudato Si’ was for people to only study the encyclical for months and months and look up difficult terms. We must take it and move with it.

What am I interested in? What are my skill sets? Where is my knowledge? What am I already doing? Is there anything new I would like to get involved in?

Discuss your next steps in your groups.

Examples of the next steps from our groups included:

Creation of an ecumenical green network in our local area

Perhaps we can use walking. Walking to meetings. Meetings while walking.

Exchange has to continue. Can broaden meetings to meet with a councillor, meet with an MP. Give talks to local churches.

Battery collection

How to encourage hospital management to roll-out sustainability initiatives. Much work has already been done to reduce plastic use in hospitals but sometimes there’s a reluctance to implement it. The amount of plastic consumed in hospitals is incredible.

Find out more about the secular green movements in the locality

Build on progress in EcoChurch scheme

Walking and cycling. Encouraging children to walk and cycle.

Promoting car pools. Perhaps there are people who can realistically live without owning a car. There is public transport and for long journeys we could use the car pool.

Ideas on Even simple things like just looking in your bin to see what you buy that you throw away regularly.

Opticians can collect disposable contact lenses and cases for specialist recycling. At home they can’t be recycled.

Seek out positive news. News from round the world that lifts the mood and brings a smile.

For The Future

I. Continue with actions

II. Read Chapter 6 of the Encyclical

Final Reflection

We give thanks for our learning, our sharing, our commitment to the kingdom of God in all its beauty, variety and challenges.

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

WB Yeats 

For our riches this day Be praised, my Lord

For our mistakes this day Be praised, my Lord

For our opportunities this day and in all our tomorrows 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 and in all our tomorrows 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 and in our actions to come 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.


White Flowers
Photo Credit: Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini

Note: Many thanks to Derby Cathedral and St Mary’s Derby for organizing this course and especially to Sheana, Carla and Fran 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.