In 2021 Pope Francis launched the Laudato Si’ Goals as an effort to encourage all sectors of Church to try to achieve ecological sustainability by 2030. It is an enormous task but one which we are invited to embrace, to help heal our relationship with our common home and with each other. We have been exploring these goals over the past few months and this month Laudato Si’ Goal 6 encourages us towards ecological spirituality. While all of the goals are important, in my opinion this particular goal is the one out of which all the others flow.
Pope Francis said in September 2020 that “Contemplation is the antidote against the misuse of our common home”. In Laudato Si’ he notes that at the heart of the ecological crisis is a deep spiritual crisis and so, when we are wondering where to begin, we begin here, rekindling a connection, a sense of awe and wonder for God’s creation. Ecological spirituality recovers a religious vision of God’s creation and encourages greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy, and gratitude. Through this experience we can come to know God more deeply. We are invited into a real movement of the heart where we can begin to see the fingerprints of God in the forests, in a wildflower, in a blade of grass, in the depth of life beneath the seas. Cultivating a deep, nourishing ecological spirituality and sharing this beautiful treasure others is one of the first steps on this journey as we are invited to fall in love again with the earth. Out of this experience can come a deeper desire to care and heal our common home.
To be followers of Jesus, to love our neighbour, involves embracing the joy of Christ in all of creation and walking more gently on this earth, to be guardians and protectors of God’s handiwork. Once we rekindle a sense of wonder for creation, not only does this experience deepen our faith and give us a deep sense of interconnection, but it is good for us, spiritually, physically, mentally. Spending time in nature brings healing to our lives, keeps us grounded, connected. We look out at the world again with a sense of wonder.
Under Laudato Si’ Goal 6 on ecological spirituality, actions include promoting creation-centred liturgical celebrations, such as marking the Season of Creation, Laudato Si’ Week, Earth Day, World Biodiversity Day; developing ecological catechesis, retreats, and formation programmes; regularly praying outdoors and creating spaces in our parishes and communities for contemplation in nature; exploring ways to promote peace in creation in dialogue with other faiths. Go to www.laudatosiactionplatform.org to find out more.
“The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” (Laudato Si’, 84).
Jane Mellett is the Laudato Si’ Officer with Trócaire