Caring for Our Common Home
Much attention has been given to Pope Francis’ recent encyclical entitled, Laudato Si, Praise Be To You, that speaks to the moral obligation to protect the environment. His encyclical on the topic has been anticipated for over a year. The encyclical is posted on our parish website here. Please take the time to become familiar with the issues and concerns that are addressed by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Blasé Cupich offered several helpful introductory remarks at a press conference last week that gives us a simple outline to understand the meaning and purpose of the encyclical. He said,
“Pope Francis speaks of a moral imperative because it is an unmistakable fact that our environment is in peril. Laudato Si is nothing less than a call to preserve full human dignity. Our faith dictates that we have to care about and for humankind; and we can’t do that without caring for the earth, our common home.
Pope Francis is inviting each person on this planet to become informed, to begin a discussion and to take action to protect and repair our common home.
Secondly, the Pope clearly identifies the ecological crisis as essentially a spiritual problem. The rupture of a relationship between humanity and the planet is an ecological sin that requires repentance and firm purpose of amendment. The cause is the same as all sin, selfishness.
The Pope focuses on several areas that require immediate attention. The first is the degradation of the earth. He reminds us that our common home is suffering and falling into serious disrepair. He refers to the destruction of the earth as a sin and reminds us the earth is ‘on loan from each generation to the next.’
He talks about global warming. The Pope tells us the preponderance of scientific evidence supports the facts of global warming and affirms that it is caused mainly by human activity. The Holy Father urges us to stop the steady march to a warmer planet that will change sea levels and crop growing patterns, parched fields and promote famine, and lead to human misery on a scale yet unimagined.
He makes concrete and specific suggestions such as his call to reduce our use of fossil fuels, rely more on renewable energy sources and re-think our over-cooled and overheated homes and workplaces.
The third area he focuses on is the disproportionate impact of environment damage on the poor who are the most vulnerable in our world. They suffer most from the degradation of the earth—they are the least protected from the increasingly violent swings of nature caused by global warming. The poor have the greatest exposure to air pollution, droughts, unsafe drinking water and the spread of diseases.
A fourth area of focus is how business is practiced. The Holy Father urges us to look beyond the profit motive – not to make it the sole consideration. Neither should advancement and growth be attained by the use of technology without adequate reflection, especially those actions that threaten to degrade the environment and undermine the human experience of work, community and aesthetics.
The Holy Father is asking leaders in business and finance to change their practices so as to protect the earth, meet basic life needs of all humans, and support the values of a good job, a good place to live, and the opportunity to participate in a vibrant community and to re-claim family life.
A fifth area of focus is the immorality of overconsumption. The Pope reminds us that ‘purchasing is always a moral—not simply an economic act.’ He asks us to reduce the habit of ‘wasting and discarding.’ The facts that you like it and can afford it should not be the only reasons to buy something.
Pope Francis is offering us brave thoughts. He’s saying things that need to be said. He is pointing out actions that must be taken.
His timing is key because major global meetings on deterioration of the earth are taking place later this year. Now, no one can be uncertain where the Church stands on these issues.
It is important to remember that the encyclical is not a rhetorical or abstract dissertation or meant to be only food for thought. The Pope is asking each of us, you and me, to take actions now—to build a worldwide culture of stewardship.
He is asking each of us, you and me, to begin taking small steps, for example, to avoid the use of plastic, to recycle, to not waste food and to say grace before every meal so we are mindful of its origins and those who will not, that day, have a meal before them.
He is asking us, you and me, to forsake our ‘self-centered culture of instant gratification’ and focus on more enduring values.
And finally, he’s asking us to ‘preserve mother earth who sustains and governs us’ for our children and our grandchildren and for generations to come.”
Some Summer Fun on a Saturday Night
One of the highlights of my summer is to travel up to Ravinia Park up on the north-shore and catch a live broadcast of the Saturday night public radio show entitled, A Prairie Home Companion. The show features Garrison Keillor, an author, storyteller and humorist; along with a number of local artists and talented musicians. The musical spectrum ranges from Mozart, to country, to the Blues.
I got to the park early last Saturday. I grabbed an $11 turkey sandwich from the cafe and sat on a park bench waiting for friends to join me for the show. Between bites, I could not help but notice that I fit right in with all of the other gray-haired baby-boomers who faithfully follow the show every week.
Garrison wrote a touching poem for Father’s Day, that he read to the audience. I think it carries with it some words of wisdom about parenting. Enjoy.
They love you still,
your mom and dad.
You may not think so, but they do.
They gave you all the love they had.
though they were human, it is true.
And they had trouble with their folks
that they kept quiet from your ears.
Down deep beneath the family jokes
was shouting, silence, many tears.
If childhood history makes you blue
thinking of your parent’s mess;
let the misery end with you,
and treat your kids with tenderness.