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Reflections on Corona and Easter

I wonder what comes out of it ...

Introduction: Children of Lockdown ... (1 page) 

   

Author: Wolfgang Rehfus

Date: Easter Sunday, 12.4.2020

2nd and 3rd chapter: 4.8.2020

Introduction: 30.8.2020

Updated: 26.9.2020
 

 ●  Reflections on Corona and Easter

 ●  In the beginning ...

 ●  Laudato Si’ ...

 
   ● 
PS ...

 

 

Corona-Easter

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Reflections on Corona and Easter 1)

 

Here at Pakawau Beach Park during the Corona Lockdown at the beach, the full moon rises in the evening and the sun rises in the morning, birds singing in the air, the tide is coming and going perfectly, not too low and not too high, the earth is breathing peacefully and heavenly, the air is wonderful fresh and clean (even above some large cities around the world) and it feels to me like God’s creation is starting to heal during these quiet and humble days. Besides all the troubles, there is so much to be grateful, joyful and also humbled for.

Is it possible, that we overlook the larger picture of a world coming to rest, a world coming to sleep and hopefully to heal? Had we not been way over-busy lately, for quite long actually? Had we not been running our ‘engines’ too long, too loud and too dirty, all around the world? Is this Corona caused Easter break not really a heavenly gift for the world to heal, for God's Creation to heal?

Why a corona, why putting the world on rest and do self-isolation exactly over Easter? At the beginning Jesus went into the desert, into self-isolation to talk with his Father and to resist the temptations. Are we following and trying to do similar, are we using this break consciously similar? On Good Friday they had put a crown of thorns, kind of a corona, onto his head. The events over Easter 2000 years ago finally were for the overwhelming purpose of cleansing and healing. The crown of thorns, the corona, was not the purpose, not the issue, it was just a part and at the beginning on the way to cleansing and healing. 2000 years ago, it all had been overlooked and was not understood by most. This year a Corona had been put onto mankind all around the world and we might ask what could be our task during and after this prolonged Easter in self-isolation? Is there a greater purpose for cleansing and healing once again?

Some voices already proclaim to return and to reopen the economy and businesses as quickly as possible or as I read in the news for example to increase dairy to fill the losses in tourism.

I wonder what comes out of it, I wonder whether we will continue or even increase our destructive, pollutive and unhealthy activities or whether we will start to focus and build on our good, positive and healthy activities?

I wonder whether we should remember the book of Genesis with the first instruction regarding to take care of the paradise we share and live in and the second instruction regarding our food (seed-bearing plants, grains from the fields and fruits from the trees)? 2) and 3)

And I wonder whether the world in general and New Zealand in particular might use this Corona-Easter as an opportunity and start to live truly sustainable and in harmony with nature, which means in harmony with God's Creation and therefore with God Himself, and to build up a so-called green economy? 3)

«My Father ... may your will be done.» - Amen

  

 


1) A first version of these reflections was published in the Pastoral Letter during Level 4 (Covid-19 Lockdown) by Knox Church, Christchurch, New Zealand, 14.4.2020 (KnoxChurch.co.nz)

The first paragraph is also published in Animal Tales of Golden Bay, written and illustrated during lockdown by Claire Rose (published August 2020), to expand this creative educational children’s book with the question: «What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?» 19)

Claire Rose writes in her book: «To our amazing God, who created all the incredibly diverse creatures for us to look after and enjoy, and who gifted all of us with our individual talents.»

 

2) cf. «Then God said ... “Have many children, so that your descendents will live all over the earth and bring it under their control.» (Good News Translation) or «Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.» (New Living Bible), Genesis 1:28

«God, the Lord, brought thus humans into the garden Eden. He transferred them the task to maintain and protect the garden.», Genesis 2:15

cf. «Then God said ... “I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat".» (Good News Translation) or «Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. They will be yours for food.», Genesis 1:29

 

3) see further below the chapters In the beginning ... and Laudato Si’ ...

 

In the beginning

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«The Creation» 5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Tales of Golden Bay
"Colouring Edition"
, a beautifully illustrated educational children’s book by Claire Rose with animals telling their own stories and drawings for the children to colour, including a short annex with the «Reflections on Corona and Easter» above. Suitable for school, Sunday school and home education. See Publishing-Flyer (with sample page) and Cover pages of the above displayed "Colouring Edition".

Animal Tales of Golden Bay,
"Photo Edition"
, with the animal stories, drawings and photos. See Publishing-Flyer (with sample page) and Cover pages of the above displayed "Photo Edition".

 

An other Golden Bay animal tale:  Click the painting by Cath Welsh to see youtube video riding her wild horse swimming with a wild dolphin in Onekaka, Golden Bay, NZ, 1991

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginning ...

 

«God, the Lord, brought thus humans into the garden Eden. He transferred them the task to maintain and protect the garden 4), 5)

«No word of destruction was in God's speech! The creation history in the Old Testament is enormous and impressive. God created the light, separated the country from the water, let it become day and night, until he finally created life - plants, animals, humans.» 5)

A monk once said «Without faith in God every activity for environmental protection is ineffective, because the meaning is missing.» 6) and we might ponder about it. However, let's start at the beginning and see what scripture tells.

The following is not intended to be all-explaining or all-knowing. It is intended to provide a basis for study, talk, thinking and understanding. It might help to recognise what God wants us to do, to recognise what is truly good for us, and it might be taken into account whenever we are called to make a decision, be it a political vote, a business decision or for example a private purchase.

In addition, the following is intended to bridge over and bring together those who have faith, but possibly don't seriously care for God's Creation, and those who stay away from churches (their private faith or belief is not questioned), but are engaged in caring and protecting our environment and nature.

The so-called «Ten Commandments» are fairly well known. 7) However, often overlooked are the very first commandments or instructions provided by the bible in the book of Genesis.

 

1. Take care of the paradise

«Then God said ... “Have many children, so that your descendents will live all over the earth and bring it under their control.» (Good News Translation) also translated as «Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.» (New Living Bible) Genesis 1:28

This was the very first commandment in the beginning.

It is explained a few verses later with «maintain, protect, cultivate  and guard» and can be summarised as "Take care of the paradise".

«God, the Lord, brought thus humans into the garden Eden. He transferred them the task to maintain and protect the garden.» also translated as «Then the Lord God placed the man in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.» (Good News Translation) Genesis 2:15 and 8)

 

2. Eat grains, plants and fruits as provided by nature

«Then God said ... “I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat".» (Good News Translation) also translated as «Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. They will be yours for food.» Genesis 1:29

This was the second commandment in the beginning.

God gave the food to be eaten as He provided it «for you to eat», which means fresh from the fields and fresh from the trees. In modern times however, most of our food is processed and refined for the purpose of storing it for an extended time, which is a prerequisite to run large scale food businesses. This processing and refining of the natural God-given food results in the loss of vital substances, causing health issues. The resulting so-called civilisation illnesses are especially caused by fabricated sugars, refined flours, fabricated fats and all the products containing those. In the beginning thousands of years ago and also 2000 years ago at the time of Jesus all this processing and refining of the natural food was simply not possible, as the technologies had not yet been invented. So it appears to be a good idea to look a little deeper into this, to stay away from these processed and refined food products and to eat healthy food as much as possible in the way it is provided by nature. 9)

It is interesting to see, that it was a very long time after the beginning, just after the flood, that the bible confirms a priority to eat grains, plants and fruits by declaring «As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest» 10) and thereafter in God's Covenant with Noah that «All the animals ... Now you can eat them, as well as green plants.» 10)

 

3. Don't attempt to know everything

«You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden Genesis 2:16, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.» also translated as «...except the tree that gives knowledge of everything» (Good News Translation). Genesis 2:17

This was the third commandment in the beginning.

This third commandment might be reflected upon regarding various activities and sciences of modern times. More than ever, we attempt to know everything. But we are not God, we are humans, therefore we couldn't even handle to know everything, could we? Possibly we already achieved way too much knowledge, we were and still are eating too much from the tree of knowledge, and it appears that we sort of know too much and are not wise enough to handle that in a responsible way. Examples are genetically engineering, agro chemistry (e.g. Glyphosat, Roundup, ...), nuclear technologies (nuclear energy and weapons) and the immense consumption of fossil energies, but also the industrial produced and highly processed food, or the exaggerations regarding Internet and global 5G networks. These are examples of destructive human activities with uncontrollable or unknown consequences. However, quite often the consequences are very well known, but ignored for short term business profits (e.g. the polluting and peace-threatening effects of fossil energies or the health issues caused by processed and refined food such as fabricated sugar, refined flour and fabricated fats and all products containing those). 9)

This third commandment might also be reflected upon in the context of spiritual and religious claims by some who think to know the truth, the overall truth. God gave us a slice of truth to know and it appears very wise that He told us to stay away from attempting to know everything. We are just humans and simply can't know everything, neither in the smallest particles nor in the most far away galaxies, and certainly not in spiritual matters. There will always be something inside the smallest particle and beyond the most far away galaxy, and certainly something unknown above or in addition to any spiritual belief.

This naturally given limitation of our knowledge is also confirmed and reflected in many bible verses telling us not to judge, but to live humbled in faith, trust and humility. This is explained for example with the words «... What I know now is only partial ... Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, love: and the greatest of these is love.» which refer to the highest commandment given to us and explained by Jesus. 11)

For example, we do not know the reasons why each one of us had been born in a different social, cultural and religious environment or country. We can only be faithful and trust that there are good reasons for this. Beside others, perhaps one reason for this existing cultural and religious variety is to learn to respect and to tolerate other people with love and compassion in our heart, independent of their faith, belief, religion or world view. 12) This is the very greatest commandment given to us. It was lived and explained again and again by Jesus, who told us «Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ... Love your neighbour as yourself. ... Love your enemies...». 11)

As we live here in this world on earth, we can only try to obey this within the framework of the very first commandment in the bible to take care of God's Creation.

 

 
 

4) cf. Genesis 2:15

 

5) cf. The book of pictures «The Creation» by Franz Alt with photos by Helfried Weyer is a special spirituell meditative journey (Franz Alt "Die Schöpfung", engl. "The Creation", Gütersloher Verlagshaus, ISBN: 978-3-579-06897-8).

 

6) cf. Max Thürkauf - A prophet in the nuclear age, 8.4.2011 (link no longer available)

 

7) cf. Exodus 20:1-17 and «The Sermon on the Mount ...», Matthew 5, 6, 7

 

8) see further below in Laudato Si’ ... the paragraph 67 in "CHAPTER TWO: GOSPEL OF CREATION" on page 49 in the Pdf-copy of the encyclical (184 pages, 1 MB)

 

9) see for example the short brochure GGB Healthy through the right food (original LVA brochure), updated English original,

or directly the older pdf copy GGB Healthy through the right food (older copy) ,

both published by the Society for Health Advice GGB (Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsberatung e. V., GGB),

see also the additional links in section Our Health and here (Vollwertig) with information and links on some topics, including 5G.

see Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, INTERNATIONAL APPEAL, An Emergency Appeal to the World’s Governments by Scientists, Doctors, Environmental Organizations and Others (in all languages, in allen Sprachen), 2019.

 

10) cf. «As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest», Genesis 8:22, and thereafter «All the animals, birds, and fish will live in fear of you. They are all placed under your power. Now you can eat them, as well as green plants; I give them all to you for food. The one thing you must not eat is meat with blood still in it ... because the life is in the blood.», Genesis 9:2, 9:3, 9:4 (Good News Translation)

 

11) cf. «Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ... Love your neighbor as yourself.»,
Matthew 22:37, 22:38, 22:39, compare this with Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18

and «Love your enemies, do good too those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.»,
Luke 6:27, 6:28

and «The Sermon on the Mount ... love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?», Matthew 5:44, 5:45, 5:46, also translated as «... Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? ...» (Good News Translation)

and «Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.» , Matthew 5:9 and the entire «The Sermon on the Mount», Matthew 5, 6, 7

and see «I may have ... but if I have no love, I am nothing. ... What I see now is like a dim image in a mirror ... What I know now is only partial ... Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, love: and the greatest of these is love.», 1 Corinthians 13:2, 13:12, 13:13 (Good News Translation)

and see also e.g. «Jesus and the Samaritan woman», John 4, and «The arrest of Jesus: ... Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.», Matthew 26:52

 

12) see e.g. «Love your neighbour as yourself», published after the Christchurch mosque attacks, with additional links, Dolphin's Design Wolfgang W. Rehfus, March 2019

see also e.g. the explicit blessing of Moslems «But God said, ... As for Ishmael, I have heard you, and I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He will become the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.», Genesis 17:20
and «Ishmael (Arabic: إسماعيل‎, Ismā‘īl) is the figure known in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Abraham's (Ibrahim) son, born to Hagar (Hajar). In Islam, Ishmael is regarded as a prophet (nabi) and an ancestor to Muhammad.», Ishmael in Islam and Ishmaelites, Wikipedia,
and see also What does the Bible say about Muslims / Islam?, Bibleinfo.com

and see also «God, who made the world and everything in it, ... he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live.», Acts 17:24, 17:26 (Good News Translation)

and see «... the sun, the moon, and the stars. The Lord your God has given these to all other peoples for them to worship.», Deuteronomy 4:19 (Good News Translation)

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg, «Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference», Youtube, 15.12.2018, «15 year old activist Greta Thunberg speaks truth to power at the UN COP24 climate talks.»

How a 16-Year-Old Is Leading a Global Climate Movement
Youtube, 15.4.2019, «For hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, Greta Thunberg is an icon. Greta’s actions have earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and speaking engagements at the World Economic Forum and COP24 - but most importantly, they’ve encouraged students from all over the globe to stand up for Earth and their futures.»

  

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, «What Are We Fighting For?», Youtube video with speech at Bioneers 2016, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez gave this speech at age 16, but he was an environmental activist since age 6!

 

On Youtube you will find more impressive speeches by these and other young people which are peacefully engaged in the care for  God's Creation, the global paradise we all share and live in.

 

The first three commandments in the bible:

The first three commandments in the bible (a) to take care of the paradise we live in, (b) to eat grains, plants and fruits, as provided by God Himself, and (c) to trust without knowing everything, appear to be the essence of the beginning. 13)

These three initial commandments in the bible give us every reason to decrease and stop our destructive, pollutive and unhealthy activities and to focus on and to build up our good, positive and healthy activities. Besides obvious examples, such as reducing waste, plastic (e.g. NZ supermarkets recently did a good step) and fuel consumption (e.g. to reduce driving in general and to stop the engine whenever the vehicle is standing), three effective and good examples would be (a) to eat healthy non-processed food, as given by God, (b) to build up organic farming and (c) to build up a so-called green economy. 14)

It is interesting to recognise, that organisations such as «Greenpeace» already since decades and recently for example «Fridays for Future», and certainly not to forget the global peace movement (see «Love your neighbour... Love your enemies...») and others as well, do what God told us to do in the beginning. These children of God, which we all are, don't act on short term business profits, they act from their heart, they act with love and compassion to each other and to God's Creation, they act for peace between people, between countries and between mankind and nature, thus between mankind and God. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus preached «Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.» 11) Consciously or unconsciously, they live according to the words «By their fruit you will recognize them. ... it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by faith alone.» 15)

2000 years ago, «Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. ...» 16), today these young people from «Fridays for Future» go to the most powerful leaders of the world and tell them what they do wrong and what needs to be done. This is just about exactly what Jesus would do today. Well worth thinking about, isn't it?

Being told to «Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ...» 11) also indicates an important priority on our heart and soul, as we may not be able to understand the bible only with our logical thinking and often egoistic judging intelligence and with our ever reasoning intellect. This priority and importance on our heart is also reflected in the scripture, as God wrote the new covenant into our hearts and into our minds. 17)

In the end, we can only and very humble try to understand with our mind and with our heart, guided by true feelings of love and compassion in our heart. 11)

The first three commandments in the bible appear to be a good starting point to seriously take care and protect God's Creation, our environment and all nature. The next chapter below explores this in detail with the Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...» by Pope Francis.

«My Father ... may your will be done.» - Amen

 

 

The Blessing Aotearoa,

«As the world aches ... God's Blessing over all people, everywhere ... and your family and your children, and their children, and their children ...»

Produced by

Brooke and Grant Norsworth,

St. Paul's, Upper Moutere, New Zealand 2020

 

 

 

13) cf. Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 1:29, Genesis 2:16, Genesis 2:17

 

14) see further below the chapter Laudato Si’ ...

 

15) cf. «By their fruit you will recognize them.» also translated as «You will know them by what they do. ... So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do. Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. ...», Matthew 7:16, 7:20, 7:21 (Good News Translation), and «My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? ... "Show me how anyone can have faith without actions." ... it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by faith alone.», James 2:14, 2:18, 2:24 (Good News Translation) and «Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.», James 3:13

 

16) cf. «Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, "It is written in the Scriptures that God said, 'My Temple will be called a house of prayer.' But you are making it a hide-out for thieves!», Matthew 21:12, 21:13

 

17) see «The new covenant that I will make... I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts» (Good News Translation) or «I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts», Jeremiah 31:33, and «Now, this is the covenant that I will make... I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.», Hebrews 8:10, and «This is the covenant that I will make... I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.», Hebrews 10:16

 

Laudato Si’ ...

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«Laudato Si’ ...»,
ENCYCLICAL LETTER
LAUDATO SI’
OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS
ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME,
Vatican Press, 24.5.2015

Laudato Si’ ...

 

"LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore" – "Praise be to you, my Lord". 18)

«What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?» 19)

This is the question of our time. It is possible to approach this question on a purely scientific and logically reasoning basis. It is also possible to approach this question on a basis of faith, trust and religion, as explained above with the book of Genesis 13) and teachings by Jesus. 11) Both ways will lead to the same practical answers to seriously take care and protect God's Creation.

A wonderful and surprisingly detailed answer is given by Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...». 18)

It appears appropriate to say, that the Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...» is possibly the most important document of our time and can — independent of any specific denomination, church, religion, faith, belief or world view — be highly recommended to all who attempt to take the book of Genesis 13) and teachings by Jesus 11) serious, to all who are interested in the world and its future, to all who are engaged in the protection of our environment and nature, and to all who had been interested in the above «Reflections on Corona and Easter».

The following is the complete and fully quoted introduction, but without the reference numbers, of the Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...». 18)


 

1. "LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore" – "Praise be to you, my Lord". In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. "Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs".

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she "groans in travail" (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire "Catholic world" and indeed "to all men and women of good will". Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”. He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, inasmuch as “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.

5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”. Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion. At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”. The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”. Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”. Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is.

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”. He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”. Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”. With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.

United by the same concern

7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”. He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”. For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”. As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.

Saint Francis of Assisi

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”. His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

My appeal

13. The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.

14. I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.

15. It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face. I will begin by briefly reviewing several aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows. I will then consider some principles drawn from the Judaeo-Christian tradition which can render our commitment to the environment more coherent. I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes. This will help to provide an approach to ecology which respects our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings. In light of this reflection, I will advance some broader proposals for dialogue and action which would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy. Finally, convinced as I am that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education, I will offer some inspired guidelines for human development to be found in the treasure of Christian spiritual experience.

16. Although each chapter will have its own subject and specific approach, it will also take up and re-examine important questions previously dealt with. This is particularly the case with a number of themes which will reappear as the Encyclical unfolds. As examples, I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy,

 

CHAPTER ONE

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMON HOUSE

...

CHAPTER TWO

GOSPEL OF CREATION

...

CHAPTER THREE

THE HUMAN ROOTS OF THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

...

CHAPTER FOUR

INTEGRAL ECOLOGY

...

CHAPTER FIVE

LINES OF APPROACH AND ACTION

...

CHAPTER SIX

ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND SPIRITUALITY

...

TABLE OF CONTENTS

...


Please continue reading with the following links to the full Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...», the official guide and overview, a comment and a song, or the downloadable 184 pages PDF copy of the Encyclical Letter «Laudato Si’ ...».

 

 


18) cf. «Laudato Si’ ...», ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME, Vatican Press, 24.5.2015

Guide and overview

Comment by scientist Schellnhuber

Laudato Si, the song ...

Pdf-copy of the encyclical (184 pages, 1 MB)

 

19) cf. paragraph 160 in "CHAPTER FOUR: INTEGRAL ECOLOGY" on page 118 in the Pdf-copy of the encyclical (184 pages, 1 MB)

 

 


 

 

See also these related links:

 

Over one billion people at threat of being displaced by 2050 due to environmental change, conflict and civil unrest - Ecological Threat Register 2020, 19.9.2020, published on Sonnenseite.com, VISION of HUMANITY 2020

 

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet, «Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says ... 'Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.' ... 'Rising affluence is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and dairy products - livestock now consumes much of the world’s crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides.' ... 'Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation.'», 2.6.2010, The Guardian

 

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