May 24 marks the fifth year since arrival of Laudato sí, Pope Francis’ encyclical On Care for Our Common Home. This is Francis’ greatest gift to us so far. I truly believe this.
Laudato sí is a frank (pun intended), and science-based account of what we humans have done to our common home, having made it “look more and more like an immense pile of filth” (LS 21).
We have altered the climate, destroyed the quality and quantity of fresh water and brought on biodiversity loss to dangerous proportions. In the process, we have wreaked havoc on the quality of human life, especially the lives of those in the global South.
Pope Francis calls for an integral ecology, an approach to living with creation that dialogues with science, respects the common good and inter-generational justice, and seeks a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters.
Laudato sí is ultimately a call to ecological conversion. Francis wants us to envision a new way of living on “mother earth” as he himself refers to our home, much like his name sake did, Saint Francis, some 800 years ago.
This is not so much a new Christian spirituality, as a return to a “prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption,….” In this way of living, he says, “less is more.”(LS 222)
May 14-24, inaugurates “Laudato sí ’ Week.” Sponsored by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Pope Francis suggests we take this time to reflect and take action to bring an end to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
While Laudato sí is a great document to consult for reflection, if you are looking for a great companion to it, try For Earth’s Sake: Toward a Compassionate Ecology, by Stephen Bede Scharper. A Novalis best seller (since 2013!), this book shows us, in straightforward language, how the ecological conversion Francis talks about is possible.
Scharper brings us on a journey, reminding us that we are all part of the environment, and that we can personally change our relationship to this planet. For Earth’s Sake will help readers comprehend why the cry of the poor is embedded in, and not parallel to, ecological destruction. For Earth’s Sake will also spell out how ‘less can actually be more’.
Curious to know how less can be more? This book is available as paperback and as an e-book. It can read alone, but it is also great for group study/discussion during Laudato sí ’ Week.
–Simon Appolloni, Associate Publishing Director