Living Laudato Si’
I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically… who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.
Want to live a life of integrity, attuned to nature and with compassion for those around us? The Justice and Peace Office have some ideas for living the teaching of Laudato Si’.
- Live sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint. For parishes, consider joining the National Energy Efficiency Network (NEEN) and check out the resources on the Global Catholic Climate Movement website. There is also an American website collating online guides, which you might find interesting. There are lots of small choices we can make, such as using public transport, reducing energy and water consumption, moving to renewable sources of energy, and recycling items where possible.
- Catholics have long fasted on Fridays, especially during lent. As one of the consequences of meat consumption is an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, consider taking up or returning to this practice by having a ‘Meatless Friday’. There is also an interfaith ‘Fast for the Climate’ on the first day of each month. You can find more information from Catholic Earthcare Australia.
- Pray for the care of creation and for our individual and collective ability to act as responsible stewards of creation. Consider including specific prayer intentions in your personal prayers and in your community’s liturgy. For inspiration, read: Fr Eugene Stockton’s prayer, ‘Covenant with this Land’ on the Catholic Earthcare Australia website; St Francis of Assisi’s prayer, the Canticle of the Creatures; and the prayers of Pope Francis at the end of his Encyclical, Laudato Si’, A Prayer for Our Earth and A Christian Prayer in Union with Creation. Also, the practice of saying Grace before meals is a great opportunity to reflect and give thanks. Here are three examples from the Diocese of Parramatta, the Archdiocese of Sydney, and Father Francis Cotter ofm and the Franciscan Friars in Ireland.
- Contact your local parish – get to know other Catholics in your community. Go to events at your local parish and say ‘hello‘ – you might be surprised to find you have a lot in common with each other and can work together on issues that are of concern to you. While you are there, introduce yourself to your local priest & let him know you are interested in caring for the environment. Ask him how you can contribute to the life of your parish.
- If you are already an active part of your parish, make others feel welcome – introduce them to your friends, encourage them to get involved and show them how your parish practices Catholic social teaching in your area. To help you discern how best to welcome others to your parish, you might like to read the Justice and Peace Office webpage, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Syrian Refugee Appeal: Welcoming Refugees to Your Parish.
- Consider establishing a social justice group in your parish, whether you want to focus on the environment, or a range of social justice issues. Also, you can participate in the Sydney Alliance through your local social justice group. Contact your local priest or our Office – we’re here to help!
- Learn more about how Catholic social teaching relates to issues you are concerned about. Read the latest encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ and take advantage of the many Catholic resources available about the document, such as the Francis Effect II, an Australian Group Reading Guide to Laudato Si’, and online resources found on the Global Catholic Climate Movement website. Catholic Earthcare Australia runs the Laudato Si’ Animator Program, along with a youth workshop on Laudato Si’ that you can book here.
- Learn about environmental science and the nexus between development, poverty and environmental degradation. Read information from reputable sources, such as those found on the Global Catholic Climate Movement webpage on climate change and watch some videos, too!
- Spend time in nature, restore your relationship with God the Creator and renew your appreciation of His creation.
- Examine how you are caring for creation – take advantage of the questions suggested by Joseph Carver SJ or Greg Kennedy SJ to guide you along your way.
- Start up a conversation and let people know what you’ve learned and why it’s important to you! Host an event, such as a talk or discussion about Laudato Si’ in your parish or school. If you would like some suggestions about possible speakers or about organising an event, contact the Justice and Peace Office.
- Care for your local environment – there are lots of ways to get involved, including creating a permaculture garden, cleaning-up your local area or volunteering in the local bushcare group.
- Be an ethical consumer and investor: purchase fair-trade and sustainably-produced products; and include ethical criteria when analysing investments and making business decisions.
- Share your innate gifts, skills and experience with those in need! There are lots of Catholic agencies working in Sydney, doing great work you can either join or support and who can put you on the path to helping those in need most effectively. Learn more about Catholic organisations working in this area. Consider the Catholic Earthcare Youth Network, the Columban Mission Society’s Faith and Ecology Network, and the Pacific Calling Partnership at the Edmund Rice Centre, as examples.
- Write to your local politicians or start a petition and urge them to show leadership and take constructive steps to protect the environment. As an example, 900,000 signatures were collected by the Global Catholic Climate Movement to support ambitious climate action at the recent U.N. Climate summit, where an historic international agreement was recently reached. This petition was endorsed by Pope Francis, who stated there is a “a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act” on climate change.
- Become part of the online conversation. You could start by ‘liking’ Catholic environmental organisations and the work they are doing on Facebook and other social networking sites. Follow those organisations on twitter, too. You can also become an ‘amplifier’ of the Global Catholic Climate Movement here.
- Finally, check the events page on our website or Facebook account reguarly. We’re always posting news about upcoming events that you can attend and connect with other like-minded people!
It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of “fraternity” with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created. And may he remind us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over them with care, in light of that greater and higher fraternity that exists within the human family.
Message of Pope John Pope II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1/1/90 “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of creation” Dated 8/12/89.