Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy continues study of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si.
We join all peoples in saying Laudato Si ′ , Mi Signore, Praise be you, my Lord! We have taken an overview of Pope Francis’ outline of the serious problems facing this earth home of ours. We continue to mine the riches of this encyclical as we look at Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation.
Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation
The Holy Father opens this chapter by acknowledging the objections some see in pairing the science of ecology with the practice of faith. He writes, “Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers? I am well aware that in the areas of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject the idea of a Creator, or consider it irrelevant, and consequently dismiss as irrational the rich contribution which religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity. Others view religions simply as a subculture to be tolerated. Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.”
The chapter then turns to a Scriptural tracing of our relationship to the whole of creation. Pope Francis discusses the common thought that since God gave Adam and Eve the garden and asked them to be its masters and stewards, thus we have the right and responsibility to dominate creation. He offers a rich sampling from both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture to substantiate the idea that we are called to care for God’s gifts to us.
Not only should we not consider ourselves to be autocrats over creation, but rather should be ones who honor all that God has created. The Pope writes, “Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”
It is in this chapter that we find a lengthy quotation of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures. This prayer is sacred poetry to us as Franciscans. This would be a good week to sing this prayer in our hearts and to ponder it as an anthem for our own day when so much of God’s creation stands in danger at our own hands. Be praised my Lord for all that you have created for our joy! Be praised my Lord in our little efforts to sustain the gifts you have given so richly!
Photos: Father Brendan Wroblewski OFM