During the warm bright summer days, we look forward to experiences enjoyed outside. Whether it’s taking a run or a stroll on the boardwalk, a dip in the ocean as we feel the cold waves cooling us down in the summer heat or forest bathing in a beautiful park or hiking in the mountains. Sometimes it’s a challenge to see the beauty during the cold winter months, but it is out there. We can discover the interesting design of a tree without leaves. There are many health benefits we can achieve being outside, such as boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and improving mood. We instantly feel connected to our environment, especially when we gaze up and see the true the beauty in God’s creation all around us.
Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, was released in June 18, 2015. It focuses on care for the natural environment and all people, as well as illustrating the relationship between God, humans, and the Earth. Although some people would consider it a surprise that the Pope would discuss the environment, he was not the first pope to address the importance of taking care of God’s Gift to us – planet Earth.
In his address to the members of the United Nations in 1985, Pope John Paul II had said, “Protection of the environment from the point of view of the human person”… therefore, that all ecological programmes must respect the full dignity and freedom of whomever might be affected by such programmes.” On the 2010 World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI had said, “If we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us,"
Laudato Si, message reminds us that God has gifted us the rich environment and we are to be good stewards of it. Pope Francis refers to the Book of Genesis, suggesting that human life is grounded in three basic relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth and we are to care for it, protect it, keep it fertile. “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. (Genesis 2:15) It is essential that we always keep this relationship in the forefront of our activities, since a healthy rich soil allows society to produce food for the hungry, housing on non-polluted land, leading to a thriving society.
There are simple ways we can all help and be the good stewards of our environment in the way that God intended us to be. Here are some suggestions:
Lower our thermostat and water heater temperatures, and raise our air conditioner temperature
Buy used, fix rather than replace
Be content without more, even if we have the means for better. And if we have the means for better, consider a charitable gift to someone in need
Discern needs from wants. Minimalism is “in” these days, so we should embrace it. Many find this trend very freeing -- giving us more time for family, friends and God
Unplug – unless, of course, it’s a prayer app!
Laudato Si is an invitation, not only to reflect but to take action for God’s creation, the most vulnerable, and for future generations. May we always seek to care for planet Earth, guided by the Holy Spirit.