Sue, from Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, shares her experience and thoughts about an afternoon spent at St James the Great parish in Petts Wood on Saturday 4 February. She had replied to an invitation from the parish to learn about Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home.
It didn’t matter I wasn’t to know anyone at the meeting as I was warmly welcomed by Roger Wright, the organiser, and 80 plus parishioners of St. James the Great.
Laudato Si’ is not Latin but old Italian and the language of St. Francis of Assisi. It means Praise Be and is taken from his Canticle of the Sun, with which Father David began the conference. CAFOD’s Susy Brouard did the presentations, while Bruno Chatto was an excellent facilitator and Roger Wright a marvellous organiser, all of which made the occasion a very thought-provoking and enjoyable event. We learned that Eco comes from the Greek, oiko, meaning home. Oiko – logical and oiko – nomics.
Thus, the words ecology and economics came together: getting the balance between the cry of the earth and cry of the poor – or getting our balance between need and greed. Our MPs are very rightly concerned about local matters so their responses to issues of the planet tend to focus on their own areas, whereas the Pope’s encyclical is addressed to every citizen of the world and not just locals or just Catholics.
Before writing Laudato Si’ Pope Francis attended conferences and discussed issues with scientists. He also met with local bishops from all over the world to ask how these issues of ecology and economics impact on their communities?
As everything is inter-connected it’s mostly the poor who feel the impact first. Susy Brouard then gave us an overview of Laudato Si’.
One quote from a Kenyan priest, whose parishioners scavenge for a living on huge rubbish tips behind his church said: “this was not what God intended when he created the world.”
This image immediately encapsulated what we are doing to God’s creation. We were then asked to discuss in small groups one of the chapters in Laudato Si’ and feedback our thoughts and ideas to Bruno, who then distilled them into succinct phrases for the whiteboard. The topics were then discussed more widely.
Before the second half we were rewarded with Fairtrade refreshments served at our tables.
Then Susy Brouard talked about themes that run through Laudato Si’, such as living mercifully, being present, our inter-connectiveness, celebrating and feasting. We gave further feedback on how we could do this.
Pope Francis has invented a new word – rapidification. It’s his word that describes how we are all so busy with frenetic activity, having no time to make relationships or to be with people. We have escaped real connection by pursuing fame, money and social media. He says we need to “disconnect in order to reconnect.”
The need and greed theme ran through many of our responses: putting God and gospel teachings at the centre of the decisions we make.
Making small changes in our own lives and parishes could bring about real change, not only for us but economically for the poor and ecologically for the earth.
I left more knowledgeable than when I had arrived, learning both from the presentations and from the other participants.
For the sake of our common home I certainly won’t let my new knowledge go to waste.
Note from the Editor: If you want to discover more on Laudato Si, you can visit CAFOD website here