The month of may marked the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. “In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”
A papal encyclical is one of the highest forms of communication from the pope with special intentions. An encyclical is also described as one of the most authoritative statements a pope can issue on his own. Pope Francis completed the encyclical, Lumen fidei, translated in English as The Light of Faith in 2013. His 2nd encyclical, also released in 2013, was the Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel. In 2015, he released the Laudato Si’.
Here is one of many powerful passages from the Laudato Si’. “If we approach nature and the environment without…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. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.” (#11)
In celebration and gratitude of the Laudato Si’, May 24th is designated a global day of prayer, where all faithful are encourage to pray:
Loving God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, you created us in your own image and made us stewards of all your creation. You blessed us with the sun, water and bountiful land so that all might be nourished. Open our minds and touch our hearts, so that we may attend to your gift of creation. Help us to be conscious that our common home not only belongs to all of us, but to all of your creatures and to all future generations, and that it is our responsibility to preserve it. Be present to those in need in these trying times, especially the poorest and those most at risk of being left behind. (The entirety of the prayer can be found at https://laudatosiweek.org/prayer/.)
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.