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sadly, done too much tilling and not enough keeping

22 Jun

What are the main messages of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’s groundbreaking new encyclical on the environment?

1. The spiritual perspective is now part of the discussion on the environment.

The greatest contribution of Laudato Si, to my mind, is an overview of the environmental crisis from a religious point of view. Until now, the dialogue about the environment has been framed mainly using political, scientific and economic language. Now, the language of faith enters the discussion — clearly, decisively and systematically.

2. The poor are disproportionately affected by climate change.

The disproportionate effect of environmental change on the poor is strongly highlighted in almost every page of the document, and the Pope provides many baneful examples of the effects of climate change, whose “worst impact” is felt by those in developing countries (25).

3. Less is more.

Pope Francis takes aim at the “technocratic” mindset, in which technology is seen as the key to human existence. He also critiques an unthinking reliance on market forces, in which every technological advancement is embraced before considering how it will affect our world. Christian spirituality, by contrast, offers a growth marked by “moderation and the capacity to be happy with little” (222).

4. Catholic social teaching now includes teaching on the environment.

Against those who argue that a papal encyclical on the environment has no real authority, Pope Francis explicitly states that Laudato Si “is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching” (15). It continues the church’s reflection on modern-day problems that began with Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, on capital and labor, published in 1891.

5. Discussions about ecology can be grounded in the Bible and church tradition.

In Chapter Two, Pope Francis introduces “The Gospel of Creation,” in which he leads readers through the call to care for creation that extends as far back as the Book of Genesis, when humankind was called to “till and keep” the earth (67). But we have, sadly, done too much tilling and not enough keeping.

6. Everything is connected — including the economy.

Laudato Si is a “systematic” approach to the problem. First, the Pope links all human beings to creation: “We are part of nature, included in it, and thus in constant interaction with it” (139). But our decisions have an inevitable effect on the environment. A blind pursuit of money that sets aside the interests of the marginalized and the ruination of the planet are connected.

7. Scientific research on the environment is to be praised and used.

Pope Francis does not try to “prove” anything about climate change. Rather, his encyclical accepts the best scientific research available today and builds on it. So Laudato Si draws on both church teaching and contemporary scientific findings from other fields to help modern-day people reflect on a contemporary crisis.

8. Widespread indifference and selfishness worsen environmental problems.

Pope Francis strongly critiques those who ignore the problem of climate change, and especially its effects on the poor. Why are so many of the wealthy turning away from the poor? Not only because “some view themselves as more worthy than others,” but because frequently because decisions-makers are “far removed from the poor,” with no real contact to their brothers and sisters (90, 49). Selfishness also leads to the evaporation of the notion of the common good.

9. Global dialogue and solidarity are needed.

Perhaps more than any other encyclical, Laudato Si draws from the experiences of people around the world, referencing the findings of bishops’ conferences from Brazil, New Zealand, Southern Africa, Bolivia, Portugal, Germany, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Australia and the United States. The pope invites into dialogue and debate “all people” about our “common home” (3).

10. A change of heart is required

This encyclical, addressed to “everyone living on this planet” calls for a new way of looking at things (3). We face an urgent crisis, when the earth has begun to look more and more like, in Francis’s vivid image, “an immense pile of filth” (21). Still, the document is hopeful, reminding us that because God is with us, all of us can strive to change course. We can move towards an “ecological conversion” in which we can listen to the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (49). To use religious language, what the Pope is calling for is conversion.

James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America and author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. This is an abridged version of an essay appearing today in America. 

virtual pilgrimage in 18:01

26 Apr

DAY 1: Capernaum & Sea of Galilee

Where in your life does Jesus call you?

Day Two: Nazareth & Cana

Newly confident because we look at what has already happened, we are able to say, “Yes,” and something new comes out of that.

DAY 3: Sea of Galilee

Where do you get your one on one time with God?

DAY 4: Jordan River & Bethany

God stood in line with those waiting to baptized and went with his friends as they invited him to go “down there” with them. 

DAY 5: Gethsemane & Holy Sepulchre

Surrender to the future that God has is store for you. Turn yourself over entirely to God, and God will reward you with new life. 

DAY 6: Bethlehem 

God entered the world in the most vulnerable way possible, completely dependent for his care  – and also leaves the world in a vulnerable state, naked and nailed – a sign of his great desire to be with us. Even in inauthentic places there is authentic faith.

DAY 7: Jerusalem/Way of the Cross

We carry our cross in the midst of the busyness and hurriedness of daily life.

with “Jesus” and @JamesMartinSJ – in Milford

8 Apr

Jesuit Renewal Center James Martin book

We are with “Jesus” at a “Jesuit retreat house near Cincinnati, Ohio” (page 226 of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by Father James Martin, S.J.) – our Milford.

he had to be burped

13 Mar

In his “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” Father James Martin, S.J., writes that there are ten things you need to know about Jesus:

1. Jesus really was human.
2. Jesus really was divine.
3. Jesus came from a tiny town.
4. Jesus learned.
5. Jesus worked hard.
6. Jesus had friends.
7. Jesus didn’t expect everyone to understand him.
8. Jesus needed time alone.
9. Jesus didn’t want to die.
10. Jesus really rose from the dead.

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Have an Andrew day!

30 Nov

November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew.

I have heard someone say – Father James Martin in his “My Life with the Saints” book – that the saints are “companions” for us. But how do they become our companions?

Father Martin wonders if this might be true: that we are attracted to a particular saint for two reasons: (1) something in the saint’s life that is so similar to that same something in our own life draws us to him/her, and (2) this REALLY fascinates me, that we are drawn to a particular saint because that saint had already been praying for us long before we have paid any notice to him/her. The saint’s life itself – and, particularly, the saint’s previous, unsolicited and continuing prayers for us – draw us to pay attention to a particular saint.

Makes me wonder why I feel so attracted to St. Andrew!