As summer comes to a close and before we prepare for the business of reactivating our parish schools and parish committees, I thought it best to present my 4th and final installment of the Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si”: on the Care of our Common Home.” Again, if you get a chance please take time to read the whole document. In the final paragraphs of the Pope’s message, he links the care of our planet in a real sacramental way to our relationship with Jesus Christ. A sacrament by definition both points to and realizes God’s presence at the same time. It is a very real encounter which we both experience and yet propels us to move forward to something even deeper and more profound around us. Listen to the following words from the encyclical:
#233 “The universe unfolds in God who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that that ‘contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves.’
#235 The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life…Water, oil, fire and colors are taken up in all their symbolic power and incorporated in our act of praise…For Christians, all creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word.
#236 It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as for his creatures. He (Jesus) comes not from above, but from within, that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living center of the universe, the overflowing core of love and inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God.
#237 Sunday is the day of Resurrection, the first day of the new creation whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality.
In essence I believe the Pope is saying creation has already received its fullness in Jesus Christ and is presented eternally to the Father in heaven. Yet, at the same time creation itself is called to (and continues to) strive to reach that full perfection as we move forward and fully embody Christ in our self and in the world. This is what we might call, “the sacrament of creation.” All is caught up in God whether it be our love for God, our care for others, our love for self and our care for the world. Care of our planet earth is certainly part of this and should be a sort of ecology of humanity as well has an ecology of our environment. Put simply, we should all work to better our world for God on all levels. This is our vocation in Christ!
In conclusion, I hope the four installments of our Pope’s encyclical I presented gives you some insight into a deeper spirituality of our environment. If you want to learn more you should know that the Minnesota Catholic Conference and Catholic Rural Life is hosting a talk entitled: “Natural and Human Ecology: A panel discussion on Laudato Si.” This will held on Wednesday, September 9th from 9:00-11:30 am; at the University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105 at the Anderson Student Center, Woulfe Alumni Hall. God bless us all and as together we strive to take better care of our environment!