I’ll admit that I’ve only just begun to peruse the 200 or so pages of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ new encyclical “On Care for our Common Home.” But the very first lines, from which the title is taken, are something we can consider as we head out on various summer vacations and trips. “Laudato si,” or “praise be to You,” is taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn praising God for the wonder of his creation.
This gives us the starting point to approach all else the Holy Father has to say about care for creation, and how environmental issues affect especially the poorest in our world. It’s a starting point of wonder and gratitude for the beauty and gift of the created world, a fundamentally Christian perspective that crosses divisions of politics, ideology and time.
I think of Fr. Karol Wojtlya, St. John Paul II as a young priest, taking groups of young adults kayaking on the forest rivers of southern Poland, to be closer to nature and closer to God. Or of J.R.R. Tolkien in mid-20th century England, troubled by the cutting down of lovely and ancient British forests – so much so that in his Lord of the Rings trilogy there are trees that fight back! (Those would be the Ents, as geeks like me know.)
As you and loved ones breathe the salt air on white NC beaches, or camp by cool mountain streams in the western hills of our state, or simply stroll in the shade of one of the parks right here in Raleigh, say: “LAUDATO SI…!,” Praise be to you, Lord, for the beauty of your creation! And then let’s consider the rest of what Pope Francis has to say. Click here for the document.
God bless, Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J. Pastor