Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
This week I am glad to announce to you some of the ideas that our Laudato si’ discussion group is ready to propose to the parish for consideration as a response to Pope Francis. You will find our ideas listed on pages 8-9 of today’s bulletin.
You will notice that one of the ways our parish is seeking to grow our community into a place where people know each other and are known is by encouraging your family’s inclusion in the Parish Photo Directory. People can feel welcome by getting to know who is sitting next to them in church. I ask you to do it. As it stands right now, only about 350 families will be represented (500 years from now they will think we are only a small parish)—the photographers are scheduled up to Thanksgiving with only 6% of appointments taken. I think we can add more if there is interest.
At the heart of the encyclical is not nature for nature’s own sake. Nature is God’s creation and we must honor it, but it was made by God for a particular purpose. Pope Francis says that God made the earth as the place where he intends to encounter mankind. To destroy the place is to destroy the meeting. Listen to what he says
about how creation is made for the Eucharist:
“The sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life. Through our worship of God, we are invited to embrace the world on a different plane. Water, oil, fire and colors are taken up in all their symbolic power and incorporated in our act of praise. In the Eucharist, we find its greatest exaltation. God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord choose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He came not from above, but from within. [How absolutely beautiful is that thought?] The Eucharist joins heaven and earth. The Eucharist is a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation” (233).
One of the women in our group wrote this:
“Reflecting, I came to realize that if we allowed God to do what he had intended, that is, if we allowed him to be in charge, things might kind of take care of themselves. For example, if you cut yourself, the body starts immediately to clot and stop the bleeding. The body is always repairing itself. As for nature: While I was waiting at the light to turn into the supermarket, I noticed the “weeds” growing up out of the tons of cement. It was one of those “moments.” To realize the power of God to have his creation growing up through tons of cement. That he is always trying to make things right, and we are preventing it. It made me sad to think just how much we have destroyed …”
Another parishioner wrote this:
“Pope Francis has inspired me to see outside of political party alliances and focus on the teachings of the Church and everything you just said in your bulletin. After all these years I realized that neither political party truly represents the compassion of Christ or represents the sanctity of life from conception to natural death (fair wages, etc.) and I am moved by the Holy Spirit through the Pope to share this with the world. I look forward to learning how I can help our parish though the political/financial controls that have consumed us as I also continue to grow. I know this is the truth although a hard one for many to open their eyes to. It takes true grace to question oneself and change.”
I am so grateful for all who are willing to look around and see the world with new eyes. “All is gift” (St. Ignatius), and “all is grace” (Dorothy Day). Until we are able to see the beauty that is in a blade of grass we won’t begin to understand the love of God. It is my conviction that our world doesn’t care for our world today because they do not know the love of God staring at them from every blade of grass. And only then the tree that passes now from the green of ordinary time to the red of martyrdom, a dying that gives witness to the new life of resurrection at Eastertime. I would imagine the voice of God to be more beautiful than, or maybe the combination total of,
every midnight and bird and poem and storm, Brahms’ “Requiem” and sunrise, all in an instant.
Pope Francis puts it rather soberly:
We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment (229).
Let us care. God bless you.