In a recent Public Letter prepared for the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation,” Pope Francis addressed all people of good will and provided a succinct summary of his very influential and celebrated encyclical “Laudato Si.” He weaves together the Via Positiva, Via Negativa and Via Transformativa as we shall see—topics we are currently treating in our Daily Meditations.
On the Via Positiva, he reminds us to recall Genesis One:
“’And God saw that it was good’ (Gen. 1:25). God’s gaze, at the beginning of the Bible, rests lovingly on his creation. From habitable land to life-giving waters, from fruit-bearing trees to animals that share out common home, everything is dear in the eyes of God, who offers creation to men and women as a precious gift to be preserved.”
He then launches into the Via Negativa:
“Tragically, the human response to this gift has been marked by sin, selfishness and a greedy desire to possess and exploit. Egoism and self-interest have turned creation, a place of encounter and sharing, into an arena of competition and conflict. In this way, the environment itself is endangered: something good in God’s eyes has become something to be exploited in human hands. Deterioration has increased in recent decades: constant pollution, the continued use of fossil fuels, intensive agricultural exploitation and deforestation are causing global temperatures to rise above safe levels.”
The suffering of the planet is our suffering too, and especially the poorest among us.
“The increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather phenomena and the desertification of the soil are causing immense hardship for the most vulnerable among us. Melting of glaciers, scarcity of water, neglect of water basins and the considerable presence of plastic and micro-plastics in the oceans are equally troubling, and testify to the urgent need for interventions that can no longer be postponed. We have caused a climate emergency that gravely threatens nature and life itself, including our own.”
He is alerting us to the issues: plastics, climate change, and the rest. Hurricane Dorian, so severe and so unprecedented, is just the beginning of what we can expect for the future as the oceans warm and storms fed by the warm waters become more fierce.
The causes of the suffering of Mother Earth are not just psychological but structural and systemic. From our souls where “egoism, self-interest, competition and conflict” abide, we birth habits and institutions in our image that are structures of exploitation. Can we change our ways?
For Deeper Contemplation
Dwell deeply on Genesis One’s affirmation of the goodness of creation in its parts and the “very goodness” of creation as a whole.
Then, and only then, consider the role humans are playing in moving from Goodness to Exploitation. What to do? What inner work and what outer work is calling you/us at this time?
Download, study, and discuss the Pope’s short letter below with others:
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”