David Malone of Interfaith Power and Light (a Blessed Tomorrow partner) penned a thank you to Pope Francis for inspiring millions with his Encyclical, Laudato Si. I would like to echo that appreciation, speaking to the deep nature at which this call to care for ‘our common home’ resonates.
Musing on Saint Bonaventure, Pope Francis projects that, “he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’” Building what some might call a fraternity with the earth, a necessary one at that, because, as Malone highlights, ‘it affects the choices which determine our behavior.’ Reversing the impacts of climate change requires an alteration in personal behavior, but that change begins with a fundamental shift in the way we regard our relationship to God’s creation. We are not struggling against it, nor is it ours to subjugate, rather, we live a coherent oneness with the true manifestation of His love – creation, for which we must care.
David Malone | Interfaith Power and Light
In his Encyclical, “Praised Be: On the Care of Our Common Home,” Pope Francis writes, of St. Francis:
His 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. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. 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. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. (pp. 11)
And there, by the eleventh paragraph of this text, I had found what seems to me to be the cornerstone of contemporary religious wisdom: we, as members of creation, must cultivate a desire to relate to the larger creation with a divine and natural reciprocity.
It has been the goal of my spiritual development, through my first twenty years, to cultivate somehow this relationship of reciprocity. More heavily, it can be said that this is the general goal of my generation: we have grown into a world in collapse, and we see that the only solution, if we are to survive on Earth, is to somehow learn to live in this reciprocity with creation, somehow learn to reset the balances in nature and in man. And so let this be a note of thanks: reading our hopes in the language of the Pope has given us more power to develop this reciprocity than we could have ever expected from this present day.