Just Gospel: Pope Francis’ Intention for Simple, Environmentally, Sustainable Lifestyle

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September 06, 2021

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares on Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for September: ‘for courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle’.

It is now the month of September whose name derives from the word for “seven”.  Though there have been changes in how the months were numbered over time, “seven” nonetheless holds special meaning for us as we consider Pope Francis’ intention for the month:  We pray that we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.

2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day.  Thus it was a Jubilee Year.  Pope Francis offered a special message in honor of this moment in history.  He wrote, “We are invited to remember above all that creation’s ultimate destiny is to enter into God’s eternal Sabbath. This journey, however, takes place in time, spanning the seven-day rhythm of the week, the cycle of seven years, and the great Jubilee Year that comes at the end of the seven Sabbath years.”  So, we can see that praying about the future of Creation during this “seventh” month is fitting.

In that same message Pope Francis goes on to say, “Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ the first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October. During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home.”

Awareness of this Season of Creation helps us to be more mindful of the prayer intention as well.  It is not by chance that the Season ends on the Feast of St. Francis.  Pope Francis, in the text of Laudato Si’ , writes, “Francis’…response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behavior. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.”

It is this all-encompassing attitude of St. Francis that seems to appeal to young people today who see the need to be more mindful in our interaction with the world around us.  They have an eye to the future, to their future and the future of generations to come.  This vision is what seems to move them to action and to challenge the value system in place in so many parts of society and the world.

It certainly would be good during this month to revisit Laudato Si’  with its call to awareness.  You may also want to visit Ecological conversion story: How Laudato Si’ affirmed by Indigenous heritage – Laudato Si Movement  This is the website of The Laudato Si’ Movement.  This is a Catholic organization and at their site you will find lots of information.  You can learn about  Laudato Si’ Week which is presented by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, in conjunction with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and sponsored by a wide range of organizations worldwide, including the Jesuits, the Franciscans, and Caritas International to name a few.  You may also want to try this link to read the story of one Indigenous Filipina who speaks of the intersection of her heritage and her faith in regard to care for Creation.

Ecological conversion story: How Laudato Si’ affirmed by Indigenous heritage – Laudato Si Movement

We pray with Pope Francis at the conclusion of Laudato Si’,  “O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.  Praise be to you! Amen.”

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