I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity…“Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents. It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Read Laudato Si and some of the commentaries on it. Also read some of the reactions to it both positive and negative. Examine your own attitudes toward our planetary crisis. What are you willing to do?
For they look, but they do not really see. They hear, but they do not really listen or understand.
The Earth with its layers of land and water and air provides the space within which all living things are nurtured and the context within which humans attain their identity. If in the excitement of a secular technology reverence for the Earth has diminished in the past, especially in the western world, humans now experience a sudden shock at the devastation they have wrought on their own habitation. The ancient human-Earth relationship must be recovered in a new context, in its mystical as well as in its physical functioning.
We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road—the one “less traveled by”—offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.
We, all of us, are being called to do something unprecedented. We are being called to think about “everything that is,” for we now know that everything is interrelated and that the well-being of each is connected to the well-being of the whole. This suggests a “planetary agenda” for all the religions, all the various fields of expertise.
We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.
Sadly, it’s much easier to create a desert than a forest.
A tree is a self: it is ‘unseen shaping’ more than it is leaves or bark, roots or cellulose or fruit … What this means is that we must address trees as we must address all things, confronting them in the awareness that we are in the presence of numinous mystery.
We are just beginning to realize that the oceans are alive because over this long, painstaking process toward life, they became a community of millions of varied species and organisms, all of which are a fabric and a community of life. They are totally interdependent, all essential for each other’s existence and for the well- being of the whole earth so that it can function and constantly maintain the oxygen needed by everything that lives. As we continue to dump our toxins in the oceans, we’re beginning to see gaps in the fabric. These marine organisms never evolved with the capacity to endure this sudden onslaught of poisonous new substances.
Miriam Therese MacGillis, OP
Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother and even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in their midst. Therefore that which extends throughout the universe I regard as my body and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions.
Mary Evelyn Tucker