Pope Francis declared May 16-24 Laudato Si’ Week in recognition of the encyclical’s fifth anniversary. Sister Rita Puthenkalam opens the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s celebration of this week with a message.
The revolutionary encyclical, Laudato Si’, was signed by Pope Francis on May 24, 2015. This document of unimaginable beauty and boundless enthusiasm for life, was the first encyclical to be issued on the environment. Through this the Pope reaches out to “every person living on this planet”.
On March 3, 2020, In view of the 5th anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si, Pope Francis addresses Catholic communities around the world in a video message. He begins with the question, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?” He continues, “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue”. The Holy Father says, “I would like to invite you to participate in Laudato Si’ Week from May 16-24, 2020. It is a global campaign on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the encyclical letter Laudato si’: On the care of our common home.”
In response to the call of Pope Francis, the SCN Ecological Sustainability Committee is facilitating a ‘Laudato Si – Week’ for us, SCNs. We owe our gratitude to this committee for the daily Lenten reflections on environmental themes and the week-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day through daily inter-faith prayer and reflection. We would also like to acknowledge the services of Mrs. Carolyn Cromer, Director of Ecological Sustainability.
The title of the Encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, is taken from the beautiful canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi, “Praise be to you, my Lord”. Saint Francis reminds us, that our common home is like a sister, with whom we share our life, and a caring mother, who opens her arms to embrace us.
The encyclical, a path-breaking milestone, is a morally forceful exhortation, a call to profound interior conversion; an intense and challenging call to action for protecting our common home from catastrophic eventualities. It underlines the need for a “serene attentiveness” to overcome the “unhealthy anxiety, which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers”.
It points out the need for confronting the throw-away culture… the accumulation of filth, the disappearance of beautiful landscapes, the industrial waste and increase of toxin level affecting the health of people. It exhorts to embrace Ecological Spirituality, a radical reshaping of our relationship with God, neighbours and the natural world.
** Let us now ponder a bit on the Impact of this encyclical.
Laudato Si has been welcomed across the world, as a document of deep and abiding beauty. It is said to be the most quoted papal document in history, which has initiated dialogues, synergies, and transformations across the world on the local, regional, ecclesiastical and UN levels.
As Pope Francis himself says, “The questions on hand, will not be dealt with once and for all, but have to be reframed and enriched again and again.”
And we know from our own present day experiences, how Creation is groaning for re-birth as COVID-19 fatalities keep mounting, by leaps and bounds, in country after country, and the world comes to a standstill, in a global lockdown. Humanity is trying to grapple with darkness it has not seen in decades. The clock seems to have stopped ticking, except in hospital wards, where it is panting breathlessly! Medical sciences are speechless before the puny micro-organisms known as COVID-19. The contagion is spreading at lightning speed.
Even in such a scenario, HOPE would have us recognize, that there is a way out, that we can always redirect our steps to make a new start. It is well for us to pause and ask ourselves: What are we, SCNs, impelled in the gut of our consciences to do?
May our thoughts and our concerns for this planet, never take away the joy of our hope. Let our hearts be filled with awe and wonder, and a determination to contribute our part as we join the world community, in the celebration of Laudato Si week, to restore the grandeur and splendor of our Common Home.
Let us conclude with a prayer.
O God, we thank you for creating the world as Garden of Eden with beauty and goodness. Give us the strength to commit ourselves to live in solidarity with the earth and all its creatures. Give us the voices of the prophets to speak out for environmental solidarity.