Laudato Si

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Earth Day is April 22 and the anniversary of Laudato Si’s publishing is June 18. We’re celebrating by doing a study of Laudato Si. As we work through this, post comments below to have a group discussion.

We’ll be primarily working from this resource: Laudato-Si-Short-Guide-Booklet with additional information. (Click here to get the app and choose St. Mary Alexandria. It’s FREE!!)

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Day 1 – Our study of this encyclical begins today. Please download the Short Guide. Then read Genesis 1:1-2:3, quietly reflecting on the Word of God when you have finished. When you’re finished reflecting, read the first page and Introduction of the guide, making note of any questions or thoughts you have that you would want to share.

Day 2 – In the Introduction, Pope Francis appeals for a new dialogue about how we’re shaping the future of our planet. How can we discuss this topic with others, especially considering our society’s use of convenience items (ie. plastic water bottles, individual pods for hot/cold drinks, “keeping up the the neighbors” as they seem to buy more, etc.) The climate belongs to all and is meant for all, yet a disproportionate amount of the earth’s resources are consumed by the US and other wealthy countries. How does Pope Francis challenge us to address this situation?

Day 3 – Begin with this prayer: Lord, I pray for the gift of wonder and awe, that we may recognize God’s creation as gift. Lord, hear my prayer. Please help me to work with others to protect our common home. Lord, hear my prayer. Amen.

Please read Chapter One of the Short Guide (available above), Sections 1 – 3. Reflect on these questions, then share them below, or with a friend or two: How are persons in poverty – who contribute to it the least – often impacted the worst by environmental devastation? Why and how does our faith call us to respond?

Day 4 – Open with a prayer from St. Francis (taken from the Rogation Days: Blessings of Fields and Gardens from the USCCB.ORG):
Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfolds rich blessing on our way,
O praise God! Alleluia!
The fruits and flowers that verdant grow,
Let them his praise abundant show.
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Read Sections 4-7 (completing Chapter 1). Questions for reflection: What are the effects of people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development and the throwaway culture? What does the Pope mean when he talks about a true ecological debt? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 5 – To open, pray the beginning of the prayer from Laudato Si, A Christian prayer in union with creation.

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother, you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Today we begin Chapter 2. Read Sections 1-4. Questions for reflection: According to Francis, the Bible teaches that the harmony between the creator, humanity, and creation was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge of creaturely limitations. What does it mean to presume to take the place of God? Alongside revelation contained in Scripture, “there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night” (85). How have you experienced God in creation? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 6 – To open, we continue the prayer from Laudato Si, A Christian prayer in union with creation.

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Today we conclude Chapter 2. Read Sections 5-7. Questions for reflection: When we fail to care for creation, what impact does this have on our relationship with ourselves, others, God and the earth? Pope Francis address his encyclical to “all people.” Why do you think he did this? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 7 – To open, we continue the prayer from Laudato Si, A Christian prayer in union with creation.

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.

Today we focus on Chapter 3. Read the entire chapter (it’s short). Questions for reflection: Francis argues, “To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system” (111). What are the true and deepest problems of the global system in Francis’ mind? Francis calls for a broadened vision (112), “a bold cultural revolution” (114). What would that look like? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 8 – To open, we continue the prayer from Laudato Si, A Christian prayer in union with creation.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this eart,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.

Today we begin Chapter 4. Read the first two chapters. Questions for reflection: Why does Francis argue that “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)? What would it mean to have “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (139)? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 9 – To open, we finish the prayer from Laudato Si, A Christian prayer in union with creation.

The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Amen.

Today we finish Chapter 4. Read the three chapters. Questions for reflection: Francis argues, “To seek only a technical rememdy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system” (111). What are the true and deepest problems of the global system Francis has in mind? For Francis, “the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity” (119). What does Francis mean by “practical relativism” (122) and cultural relativism (123)? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 10 – To open, we begin with the first part of St. Francis’ of Assisi Canticle of Creatures:

Praised be to you, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom you give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great spendor;
and bears a likeness to you, Most High.

Today we read Chapter 5. Questions for reflection: The word “dialogue” is repeated throughout this chapter. What does it mean and why does Francis think it is important? What does Francis mean when he says, “There is a need to change ‘models of global development'” (194)? What is wrong with the current models? What would the new models look like? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 11 – To open, we continue with St. Francis’ of Assisi Canticle of Creatures:

Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through whom you give sustenance to your creatures.

Today we begin Chapter 6, reading Chapters 1-4. Questions for reflection: Francis is critical of a consumerist lifestyle (204). Why? What would a new lifestyle look like? What does Francis see as the role of environmental education in increasing awareness and changing habits (210-211)? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.

Day 12 – We conclude our study today. To open, we complete St. Francis’ of Assisi Canticle of Creatures:

Praised be to you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be to you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Today we finish our study by concluding the reading in Chapter 6 (Chapters 5-9). Questions for reflection:Love must also be civic and political, according to Francis. “Social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a ‘culture of care’ which permeates all of society.” How can we encourage civic and political love in the United States? How is this encyclical going to change your life? Feel free to share your reflections with others in person or using the comment box below.