Nearing Earth Day, Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy continues turning the pages of Laudato Si and offers reflections on the last chapter.
Turning to the final chapter of Laudato Si, Mi Signore entitled Ecological Education and Spirituality, we read, “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” So let us explore what is in the Holy Father’s “big picture” for us.
Pope Francis first paints a picture of a worldwide ailment. “The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”. When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. Social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic obsession with a consumerist lifestyle. When few people are capable of maintaining it, such a lifestyle can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom.”
The Holy Father addresses the improved understanding of environmental education saying, “It seeks also to restore the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God.”
In our prayer and in our everyday choices, what can we do to be less obsessed with a consumerist lifestyle and more centered on an ecological equilibrium?