What does the Pope say in the Encyclical letter “Laudato Si'”?
Look, look at the immense splashes in the roar of water! Listen to the white power of the waterfall! From our little bridge we can see only a small part of it, still it comes from far distant glaciers, it went through forests and it will flow into the sea… A tree trunk, a rock, a precipice; they are all obstacles that can make it incredibly wonderful!
Think for a moment at each life, at the life of your school mate and at the life of your own mother: each full of awe and surprises, with many hindering trials to overcome which made them beautiful and mysterious, without preventing them from reaching their destination. They have been alive for many years before we got to know them from our point of view(our “bridge”), and they will continue to flow probably without us before we will be joined to them again in the ocean of Eternity…
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.(St Francis)
How could the story sadly be ended instead? (Noise, counterfeit, hurry, destruction)
- “Hello? Yes! No problem, you don’t bother me at all… So you want to have the meeting on Tuesday at 10am? What? Sure, what did you say? Oh it is the waterfall’s noise…”
- “Well, no, I don’t need to come there. What’s the name of the waterfall? Does it look like the one in Disneyland? Put the picture on face book”
- “The wonderful waterfall? Nop, I missed it… I was in a hurry…”
- Sure, this is the perfect area for our project. The industrial waste will make the water a bit purple, but just a little bit; it will warm it up and nobody will notice the chemical foam. Only a poor village still uses this drinkable water; if they will pay, we will sell them clean water. It is a good deal indeed, if the City won’t be too strict…
THE MAGNIFICENT BOOK (for the Interior Life)
Nature is a magnificent book in which God speaks to us. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. This contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since “for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice” (St John Paul II). Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God. (LS 12, 84-86).
JOY AND PEACE (contemplation or consumerism?)
Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures. Such sobriety is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them. So they are able to shed unsatisfied needs, reducing their obsessiveness and weariness. Even living on little, they can live a lot, above all when they cultivate other pleasures (in fraternal encounters, in service, in developing their gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer). It is not easy to promote this kind of healthy humility or happy sobriety when we consider ourselves autonomous, when we exclude God from our lives or replace him with our own ego, and think that our subjective feelings can define what is right and what is wrong. Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. (LS 222-226).
WHAT CAN PREVENT US FROM LISTENING (and from unveiling the mystery)?
Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered”. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves (artificial). Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. A deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise. (LS 225, 18, 34, 47).
SACRIFICE CONSUMERISM AND THE (priestly) ACT OF LOVE
Patriarch Bartholomew asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”. (LS 9, 16). Christ the Priest on the Cross teaches us that to renounce something that we like is a concrete sign of love of neighbors. Jesus shows us that sacrificing it to God can be a co-redemptive act. The Pope connects the care for our common home to the care for the poor and the future generation, victims of the destruction of creation. (see LS 27-31 on the issue of water).
A NEW LIFE STYLE (not supportive of the throwaway culture) IS THE CONCRETE RESOLUTION:
Chose an area among those suggested by the Pope (SL 202-232) and sacrifice your comfort to transform it in a gift for others: turn the AC temperature up and the heat down, slow down, carpool, recycle, be still and contemplate the Creator in His creation, write your own analogy taken from observing the universe, provide ecological education, avoid wasting food, water, energy. (SL 211).
October’s meditation is by sister Clara Remartini AVI