Laudato Si’ seems to have been buried under all the hubbub from the SCOTUS decision on same sex “marriage”…. so I’m just now catching up with commentaries and reactions to Laudato Si’, after finally finishing the encyclical, which can be found here, if you haven’t read it yet.
I had to comment though on the, well, childish reactions to the encyclical, because I tend to look at everything from the eyes of a mom, and they reminded me too much of my kids’ reactions to lectures.
“It wasn’t me!”
“I didn’t do that.”
“You don’t understand!”
We’re the parents of five kids. When we need to, we sit them down individually, or in a smaller group of two or three depending on need, and talk to them about specific problems or issues we need to pay attention to and work through.
But most of the time, we give general instructions, that everyone needs to hear, for the good of the whole family, whether there’s one or two or three “guilty parties” in the audience.
Why do people keep getting upset about things the Pope says, that does not apply to them?
Surely there were people who, when Humanae Vitae came out, said, “Yay us! We’re doing exactly as the Church teaches!! ITA with the Pope on this one!!” Others grumbled, or followed begrudgingly. Yet others shrugged and went their merry way. But some are just now looking at HV and saying, “Oh. THAT’S what he meant. Now I get it.” And then you’ve got the reverts and newbies saying “Wow. What awesome teaching! Why did no one ever tell me this?”
So I’m puzzled with the Laudato Si’ comments on how the Pope doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or that he’s condemning guns or air-conditioning or what have you.
If the lesson doesn’t apply to me, then it doesn’t. If I’m already responsible about my use of the earth’s resources — if I don’t waste food or water, if I reuse, reduce, recycle, if I’m not a hoarder — then yay me! If I’m already doing my bit to help other people, keep myself informed about ways to help those who are suffering from lack of water or food, then I can be happy that I’m part of the solution and not the problem. If I’m not promoting abortion or contraception, not advocating for depopulation policies because I believe that’s the solution to the economy or the environment, then the lecture isn’t for me.
If, however, I realize that in my own home or my own community or places where my pocket can reach, there are still things I could work on, then I will wear the shoe, for the simple reason that it fits.
The point is that there’s ALWAYS something that we could be doing more or less of.
My main take from the encyclical is this:
We are stewards of the earth, and we have countless innovations that ARE directed toward bettering life for ourselves and others. It’s when we get selfish that we take things to the extreme, and make gods out of our own creations, and allow these gods to rule us instead. We’ve become humans so far removed from the reality of our own humanity, that too many of us have forgotten our dependence on God’s plan and His providence.
A good place to start: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Here in our own family, we’re talking about how we can be more self-sufficient in terms of food and develop a more personal relationship with the land and with our local farmers. We’re also discussing about how we can help with the water shortage in other places (there are many charitable organizations but which one to support?). And we’ll continue to minimize our personal consumption of the earth’s resources and make good use of what we already have.
If you have specific suggestions on any of these, please share in the comments section. I’d love to explore concrete solutions with you.
My favorite commentaries on Laudato Si’:
The New Encyclical: Laudato Si from Robert Royal
“Laudato Si” focuses on the heart of man and the disorders of our age from William Patenaude
“Laudato Si'” and Romano Guardini from Fr. Robert Barron