Mercy is growing in awareness of how our choices impact the Earth and persons who are poor. We are called to reflect on and change our personal habits and behaviors, adopt new policies and guidelines for institutions, and advocate with corporations and government leaders to reverence the Earth and sustain life.
May 16-24 is Laudato Si’ Week, and this year marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on our common home. In the encyclical, Pope Francis’ reflects on what he calls four ecologies that require our prayerful attention and action if we are to address the harm that we have inflicted on creation:
- economic and social ecologies that examine the interdependence between living organisms and their natural and social surroundings because we “are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (§139);
- a cultural ecology which requires “greater attention to local cultures when studying environmental problems, favoring a dialogue between scientific-technical language and the language of the people” (§143);
- an ecology of daily life which focuses its attention on the physical settings within which people live their lives and their impacts on social relations. “Given the interrelationship between living space and human behavior, those who design buildings, neighborhoods, public spaces and cities, ought to draw on the various disciplines which help us to understand people’s thought processes, symbolic language and ways of acting” (§150).
Undergirding these ecologies is a commitment to the common good which the Catholic Church defines as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment” (Gaudium et spes §26). Moreover, because ecological destruction adversely affects the poor, this commitment requires us to seek solidarity with them as an expression of Catholic social teaching’s preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.
While many of us remain sheltering in place at home, we can still use this week to reflect on the interdependence of our relationships with other people, cultures, social spaces and relations, flora, and fauna that shape our attitudes about the gift of God’s creation.
Quotes from different religious traditions for reflection each day this week.
“The temple bell stops. But the sound keeps coming – out of the flowers.” (Basho, 17th-century Buddhist poet)
“Do not strut arrogantly on the earth. You will never split the earth apart nor will you ever rival the mountains’ stature.” (Qur’an 17: 37)
“To know the nature’s law is to be enlightened. He who is ignorant of the nature’s law shall act recklessly, and thus will invite misfortune.” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 16)
Thursday: Native American
“Now, if you have learned how to behave like human beings and how to live in peace with each other and with the other living things—the two-legged, the four-legged, the many-legged, the fliers, the no-legs, the green plants of this universe—then all will be well.” (Brule Sioux Creation Story)
“All living creatures are sparks from the radiation of God’s brilliance, emerging from God like the rays of the sun.“ (Hildegard of Bingen)