Sep 1, 2020

I’m a great fan of Pope Francis and LAUDATO SI’ and a special fan of St Francis and his Canticle of Creation, which I prefer to sing or chant as well as meditate on. (Who was aware that the name of the encyclical “Laudato Si” is actually the name of this prayer?)   

Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, Sister Water, and Mother Earth and finally Sister Bodily Death. Are these not all creatures of the Father, even though he is not mentioned as such?  Interestingly though, the prayer mentions these inanimate elements in family terms but does not talk of animate creatures, animals, plants, people.  However there is a verse, before the mention of death, which apparently was added later to highlight the need for forgiveness in relationships:  “Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for love of you, and bear infirmity and tribulation.  Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.”   We sing a number of hymns based on this creation prayer, without possibly being conscious of its origin.  The peace prayer of St Francis is even better known, both sung and prayed.  

St Francis and Pope Francis, express their spirituality of creation in this canticle prayer. Keeping this in mind and doing the same is important on our own LS journey, particularly this spring and during this Season of Creation from 1 September to 4 October, the feastday of St Francis. The secular world is also emphasizing the issues of climate change, global warming, loss of biodiversity, as well as poverty and inequality but without any spiritual dimension, which surely is an important and necessary aspect too?   

The issue of our human complicity in these environmental evils needs to be faced as individuals and families as outlined in the section: “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis” in LS.  These discuss technology and globalization among others. Having considered that aspect and our own contribution, we can respond to the call to ecological conversion and ecological education and action according to the important principle of the common good.   The family as the basic cell of society is outstanding as one of the primary groups to apply this principle which also includes the principle of subsidiarity. This means that it is not the bishops but the simpler, more basic units of society who can and should act and be supported to do so. LS156.   Ecological education, similarly, begins at home where “we first learn how to show love and respect for life, we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. Integral education enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity.  In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude, to control our aggressivity and greed and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm.”  LS 213. As I so often preach, is that not a meaningful response to gender-based violence?  

It is highly recommended that families download this important document and use it as appropriate in family faith sharing and also as family catechesis for all ages with this month’s theme and during this time, when no formal catechesis is happening in many places. May it lead to strengthening the faith life of everyone and inhering Francis’ sense of love and joy that Pope Francis no doubt inherited from his patron, the humble, nature-loving and generous, self-giving and openhearted friend of God.

Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis of Assisi.  (There are many versions of this on YouTube to read, listen to and sing.)  

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Your’s are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing, To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,  in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,  through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.  Amen


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