Throughout this decade, one of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Jesuits globally is ‘Care For Our Common Home.‘ This commitment flows from the insights and teaching of Pope Francis expressed in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si – on Our Care for the Common Home. In the opening sentences of the encyclical, Pope Francis draws upon the life of St Francis of Assisi, whose name he took as “his guide and inspiration” when he was elected as the Bishop of Rome saying, “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore”, translating to “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.” Next week, we will officially transition from winter into spring. This is a transition that most people eagerly embrace – the end of cold mornings, more sunlight and longer days, warmer weather, and gardens and plants coming alive with beauty. We also hear the chirping of more birds along with the buzzing of bees and other insects.
Throughout this pandemic, we have been reminded of our global interconnectedness. The ability to move freely across the globe has been restricted for the vast majority of the world’s population. For most of us, we are currently confined to a 5km radius from our homes. While this has been frustrating and most, if not all of us, are longing for the end of the current lockdown, many of us have rediscovered the natural beauty of our own local environment. Many of us have discovered parks and reserves in our local area that we may not have visited for a long time – or perhaps, ever. I have certainly enjoyed walking through the Tambourine Bay Reserve that just begins to the east of First Field.
As Christians, as we transition into the beauty and joy of spring, we are encouraged to pray and reflect upon this Season of Creation which starts on 1 September with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and ends on 4 October, the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis encourages us towards an ecological conversion saying, “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (LS 217). A number of practical suggestions about how we can live this out can be found in this week’s Caring for Our Common Home segment in Viewpoint. You might also enjoy engaging with an Earth Examen.
Earlier this week, the worldwide Jesuit Secretariat for Education launched the Caring for our Common Home ecological framework to be implemented across the 827 Jesuit schools across the world. I want to acknowledge and thank Mrs Sharon McLean, who is our Acting Reconciliation with Creation Co-ordinator, as she was the Australian representative on the global working group that developed this framework. As a College, we are in the process of engaging with this document and reflecting on how best we can engage with it as the Riverview community.
We continue to pray for the people of Afghanistan and the Afghani diaspora within our community. It has been heartening to see the widespread compassion within the Australian community, as well as the commitment of our Army and Air Force in continuing the airlift and evacuation flights until yesterday. The context of Kabul is incredibly dangerous as evidenced by tragic overnight bombings at Kabul airport. Fr Frank Brennan SJ, the Rector of Newman College at the University of Melbourne, has been vocal in the media this week saying Australia’s response needs to be broken down into three issues; the evacuation of people in Afghanistan, their resettlement, and how to support the 5000 Afghans already living in Australia on temporary protection visas.
As we move into spring, I encourage you to pray and reflect upon the prayer for the 2021 Season of Creation;
Creator of All,
We are grateful that from your communion of love you created our planet to be a home for all.
By your Holy Wisdom you made the Earth to bring forth a diversity of living beings
that filled the soil, water and air.
Each part of creation praises you in their being, and
cares for one another from our place in the web of life.
With the Psalmist, we sing your praise that in your house “even the sparrow finds a
home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young.”
We remember that you call human beings to keep your garden in ways that honor
the dignity of each creature and conserve their place in the abundance of life on Earth.
But we know that our will to power pushes the planet beyond her limits.
Our consumption is out of harmony and rhythm with Earth’s capacity to heal herself.
Habitats are left barren or lost. Species are lost and systems fail.
Where reefs and burrows, mountaintops and ocean deeps once teemed with life and relationships,
Wet and dry deserts lie empty, as if uncreated.
Human families are displaced by insecurity and conflict, migrating in search of peace.
Animals flee fires, deforestation and famine,
wandering in search of a new place to find a home to lay their young and live.
In this Season of Creation, we pray that the breath of your creative Word would move
our hearts, as in the waters of our birth and baptism.
Give us faith to follow Christ to our just place in the beloved community.
Enlighten us with the grace to respond to your covenant and call to care for our common home.
In our tilling and keeping, gladden our hearts to know that we participate with your Holy Spirit
to renew the face of your Earth, and safeguard a home for all.
In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wishing you and your families every blessing as we continue to journey together in this challenging time.