Hope for the Earth, Hope for Humanity has been adopted as the theme for Laudato Si’ Week this year, celebrated globally from 21-28 May.
Pope Francis addressed the Laudato Si’ encyclical to “every person living on Planet Earth”. (#3). He frequently returns to the themes that humanity and creation are intimately woven together, just as one’s religious faith carries the responsibility and duties toward nature and the Creator. “Human life is grounded”, Pope Francis writes, “in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor, and with … [E]arth itself.” (#66)
This encyclical (available here) describes an itinerary for ethical and spiritual growth which rests on a foundation of the best scientific research available. The following suggested itinerary for Laudato Si’ Week is based on the encyclical. You are invited to travel a little further down the road of conversion during Laudato Si’ Week. You might consult the following itinerary as a guide as you add your own side trips and excursions.
Day One: Gratitude
The maxim “Gratitude is the memory of the heart” is associated with Mary MacKillop. Most Christian spiritual journeys begin from a place of gratitude. Pope Francis wrote: “This conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness. First, it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works.” (#220)
- Take some time to plumb the Earth memories held in your heart.
- Visit or revisit places in which you have ‘invested’ your generous care and tenderly nurtured. This might be a garden or part of the built environment.
- Take some time to appreciate your immediate surroundings – the artworks, photographs and objects which decorate “your space”.
- Watch a beautiful nature documentary, visit an art gallery, listen to your favourite music, savor tasty food, a great cup of tea, some good coffee or wine…
- Read paragraphs 76-92 and 233-237 of Laudato Si’.
Day Two: Critical Analysis
It is not possible to deny that we are faced “with global deterioration”. (#3) We cannot remain deaf to “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. (#49) The immediacy and magnitude of the crisis requires us to “take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair”. (#61) Pope Francis reminds us that “we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality.” (#63)
- Read paragraphs 101-136 of Laudato Si’.
- Watch an international news bulletin or read a newspaper.
- Consider the issue of First Nations Voice to Parliament from various positions and points of view.
Day Three: Grief
Pope Francis writes of the grief humankind experiences as a result of Earth being transformed by piles of filth, the impact of species loss, the environmental and cultural devastation wrought by habitat destruction, the effects of food, water and land insecurity. He refers to Pope Benedict XVI ’s metaphor of desertification: “The external deserts of the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.” (#217)
- It has been said that we only grieve that which we love. Create a list of the things that you love too much about Earth to lose. You could also create a list of what has been lost and what you grieve about.
- Read paragraphs 17-61 of Laudato Si’.
Day Four: Conversion
Pope John Paul II was the first to write about ecological conversion. Pope Francis develops this aspect of Christian life more fully. Ecological conversion is an imperative for individuals and communities alike. “what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. 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)
- Read paragraphs 216-221 of Laudato Si’.
- Read the Explore~Embrace~Embody (the Josephite Laudato Si’ Action Plan) here.
Day Five: Toward Newness
The Paschal mystery promises new life in the wake of senescence and death. Through genuine commitment to everyday gestures and to “larger strategies to halt environmental degradation” (#231) signs of a culture of care are emerging. “These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story, which can be remembered and handed on”. (#232) We are part of a generation of Christians experiencing the emergence of a form of ecological spirituality which is “grounded in the convictions of our faith, since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences on our way of thinking, feeling and living.” (#216)
- How might a culture of care be described? Which of your everyday gestures are promoting the emergence of a culture of care?
- Pope Francis refers to ‘social love’ as a motivating force for change. What might he mean by ‘social love’? Who personifies social love for you?
- What stories of social love and community action have influenced you?
- Read ‘A Love Letter to the Planet’ by Tich Nhat Hanh. Read David Attenborough’s witness statement and vision entitled ‘A Life on Our Planet’. Write either a legacy letter or your story/statement.
- Read paragraphs 202-208 in Laudato Si’.
Day Six: Hope
“Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems.” (#61) “All it takes is one good person to restore hope!” (#71)
- Consider what hope for Earth and hope for humanity means in your context.
- Read paragraphs 96-100 and 137-142 in Laudato Si’.
- Re-read Explore~Embrace~Embody here. Where do you find signs of hope in the Josephite Action Plan? Send a message to someone you know telling them about this hope.
- Send an affirming message to someone who embodies hope for Earth and/or hope for humanity.
Day Seven: Joy
“When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord of all [the] creatures and to worship [God] in union with them.” (#87) “May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” (#244)
- Discern ways in which you can share your joy with other creatures and your God.
- Commit to at least one action which will better enable you to see God reflected in all that exists.
- Read paragraphs 222-226 in Laudato Si’.
Sr Mary-Ann Casanova PhD
Explore~Embrace~Embody Project Officer
Reference: Francis, Pope. On Care for Our Common Home – Laudato Si’. Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition.