Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reviews Pope Francis’ Laudao Si’, Mi’ Signore’s closing comments and its encouraging involvement of spirituality in environmental education.
As we reach the final passages of Laudato Si’, Mi’ Signore we are ready to join Pope Francis in examining the involvement of spirituality in environmental education.
We tend to put the topic of environment or ecology solidly in the category of a scientific endeavor. Pope Francis expresses a broader meaning, “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion.”
The Holy Father reflects on the fact that some Christians respond to the call for environmental protection with ridicule while others simply remain indifferent and inactive. These are not acceptable replies. Pope Francis writes, “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.”
The encyclical quotes the writings of the Australian bishops speaking of the importance of reconciliation with creation: “To achieve such reconciliation, we must examine our lives and acknowledge the ways in which we have harmed God’s creation through our actions and our failure to act. We need to experience a conversion, or change of heart.”
This conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care. Conversion entails gratitude, greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems, a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, moderation, the capacity to be happy with little, humility, a capacity for wonder, and charity which tends toward the common good.
The call to conversion leads to a treatment of the Sacramental life of the Church which depends on the human and sensate signs and symbols so familiar to our faith life. Oil, fire, bread, water, human touch—all are fruits of our environment.
Next, Pope Francis writes about the relationship of creation to the Trinity. He says, “Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.”
Mary, our Mother is not to be left out of this reflection. Whether we see her as the sorrowful mother or as the woman clothed with the sun, she speaks to us of the glory of God which we see ever more clearly when we beg her to share her spirit of wisdom. St. Joseph is there for us to teach us how to show care; he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us.