Laudato Si’ – Encyclical on Ecology and Care for God’s Creation
“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.” These are the words Pope Francis used to open his encyclical on ecology and care for God’s creation.
These words are originally from the first line of Saint Francis of Assisi’s beautiful 13th century canticle. The canticle continues with stanzas that remind us that Earth, our common home, is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
As vowed women who live in community, we found ourselves leaning into Pope Francis’ words. They remind us that our foundation in Catholic Social Teaching and our Congregation’s mission to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, mean we must keep asking: how can we, standing in solidarity with others, work to be better stewards of Earth? How can we share and support social and economic solutions that safeguard human beings, especially people who
are poor or marginalized?
Pope Francis writes: “A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
The encyclical, Laudato Si’, presents themes that link every human being, by moral obligation, to consider and address the destructive impact our choices can have on people and societies around the world and within the natural world.
Like Saint Francis, our Congregation’s patron saints, Dominic de Guzman and Catherine of Siena, also were defenders of nature. Both also preached grace. Both believed that justice can not be had without grace.
Since 1992, the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids have been engaged in initiatives in support of our Relationship with the Earth direction statement:
We commit ourselves to foster the contemplative stance that all the earth is sacred and interconnected; respect and accountability for the earth are necessary to the survival of life. We affirm that actions which impact the environment will be preceded by the question: Is this action which I (we) are performing supportive of the environment?
Our Congregation has always associated deeply with the waters surrounding our home in Michigan. From the Great Lakes with their stunning majesty to the swiftly running waters of the Grand River, we connect to our commitment of Care of Earth through water. Because of this commitment, Saint Francis’ reference to Sister Water has always resonated with us. Seeing it brought to heightened awareness in the world through Pope Francis’ encyclical is especially satisfying.
Shall we together embrace the integral nature of Pope Francis’ message and approach the world in which we live with a new sense of wonder and grace? For it is together that we will nurture and harvest the fruits of Earth, our common home.
The Canticle of Brother Sun (excerpt) by Saint Francis of Assisi
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.