As we cherish our time here on Earth, Pope Francis wants us to consider the words of Saint Francis of Assisi that remind “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.” The Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), published in May 2015, is an encyclical letter in which Pope Francis recognizes the damage that is being done to our planet and also that it is our responsibility to help stop it:
This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.While the imagery in the letter presents a harsh reality, The Laudato Si’ is full of hope and a message that it is not too late to heal the Earth if we all come together through “ecological citizenship.” Pope Francis offers suggestions such as:
- Conserving water
- Conserving energy (such as turning off unnecessary lights or turning down the heat and putting on a sweater)
- Using public transportation or carpooling
- Cooking only as much food that will be eaten as to avoid waste
- Planting trees
- Laudato Si' – Praised Be To You: This page on the Office of Education, Evangelization and Catechesis website offers suggestions for:
- How your Parish/School community can initiate some of these initiatives
- How your community can be one with God and nature
- How your school community can contribute to the global community
- 10 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Earth: This article on HowStuffWorks has great ideas for green living for family members of every age, from riding your bike when you can instead of driving (or being driven) and composting.
- Kids Can Save the Earth: Not only will you find kid-friendly tips for green living, you’ll also find videos, games, activities and experiments where you and your child will learn all sorts of cool facts about the environment.
- Zoom Into Action: You Can Help the Environment: Once again, we refer you to a PBS website. This one presents activities that you and your child can do in your own home and neighborhood, such as cleaning up the local playground. It also offers a host of additional website and book references if you are interested in more in-depth, kid-appropriate information on the environment.
What are some of the ways you and your family do your part in honoring, and helping, our planet? Let us know on our social media pages.