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Continuing the Journey – October 2023 Update

Peace and all good!

As the seasons change from summer to fall we offer a reflection and an update for the journey ahead. May the Spirit continue to guide and animate your efforts as you live out Laudato Si’. 

This reflection was originally shared as part of Legacy Day 2023 as ministries of the St. Barbara Province engaged in education and action based on the Laudato Si’ Goals. Check out more projects from the day here.

Caring for our common home is a value that I try to live out in a series of small impactful ways. My interest in this didn’t happen in a single, big amazing moment that changed my whole life. Instead, a passion started as a possibility. And seeing what was possible began with asking myself, “What’s possible, right now, that I can commit to?” and “In my life, just as it is, what’s one thing that I can do differently?” Like any passions that we might have – a hobby or the work that we do or the way we show love to the people around us – they often start with believing, “Yes, I could do that.” Though simple, this realization has great power.

Over the course of many ordinary interactions, I saw other people taking small action steps. Whether I personally knew these people or not, I saw in them things that were also possible for me. It was the shopper in the parking lot, walking back to his car to get the reusable bags. It was the classmate who carried a refillable water bottle and coffee mug everywhere. It was a co-worker who brought a cloth napkin and utensils from home every day for lunch. It was the friend who started meatless-Mondays every week. With each example, I was inspired to make a simple change in my life because the action that I saw someone else do, was possible for me too.

The people that I’ve been most encouraged by aren’t models of ecological perfection, if there even is such a thing. They don’t have radical lives. They each consistently lived out one thing. I saw them and was drawn to a simple choice they made. And over many years, single changes became integrated habits. Each single possibility that I could live out as an intentional choice created a trail of difference.

While I know that environmental and social challenges are complex, I try to be encouraged by the impacts of simple commitments…and keep my eyes open for that next possibility.

Update - October 2023

Peace and all good! As an initiative originally sponsored by the Province of St. Barbara, Laudato Si’ Spirit is taking a hiatus as six of the US Franciscan (OFM) provinces continue the Revitalization and Restructuring process to become one national province. During this time the Laudato Si’ Spirit website will continue to be accessible and then updated once the new province and JPIC structure are active. If you need to reach someone from Laudato Si’ Spirit in the meantime, please contact Bro. Mark Schroeder, OFM.

Our website continues to offer a variety of educational, spiritual, and action-oriented resources to enrich your journey with Laudato Si’.

Season of Creation 2023

Each year, the Season of Creation offers a special time for the world-wide Christian family to join together in celebration and action for our common home. Beginning on September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and concluding on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Season of Creation is filled with opportunities for prayer, reflection, action and advocacy. Visit the official Season of Creation website to learn more about this year’s symbol of a mighty river and the theme of “Let justice and peace flow.” 

Ways to Participate

  • Visit the official Season of Creation website to access resources, prayer cards, videos, and other ideas in the celebration guide to start planning your involvement now. 
  • Check out this year’s Catholic Liturgical Guide featuring resources for all your liturgical needs for every week during the Season of Creation —music suggestions, scripture reflections, homily helps, prayer guides, sample intercessions, and more!  
  • Additional Catholic resources for the Season of Creation are available from Laudato Si Movement. 

Just Announced - Stay Tuned!

Pope Francis revealed that the follow up to his encyclical Laudato Si’ will be published on October 4. 

Read the news here and stay tuned for more info! Read a preview of the document titled ‘Laudate Deum’ here

Living Laudato Si’ Week 2023

Welcome to Laudato Si’ Week! Each year, Laudato Si’ Week celebrates the anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical and the message to care for our common home. It is a chance to learn, reflect, pray and act on our relationship with all of creation. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops created an 8-day resource with invitations to Pray, Learn, Act for Laudato Si’ Week 2023

Here are 5 daily reflections and invitations we’ve created to enrich your journey of living Laudato Si’.  Also available in a PDF version. 

Day 1: Responding to the Cry of the Poor

“Hence every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged.” (Laudato Si’, 93) The effects of the ecological crisis are felt most immediately and most drastically by underserved communities. Globally, those least responsible for contributing to the climate crisis suffer most from poor air, water and food quality and are most vulnerable to natural disasters. In the U.S., socially vulnerable populations (based on income, educational attainment, race and ethnicity, and age) may be more exposed to the highest impacts of climate change such as health from changes in air quality and extreme temperature, disruptions to weather-exposed workers, and flooding threats to property.

Invitation for reflection & action:
What are the challenges facing my local community? How do my choices promote or hinder ecological justice for all?  What is one step I can take to hear and respond to the cry of the those most affected by the ecological crisis?

 

Day 2: A Prayer for Creation

From our Franciscan tradition, we honor the connectedness of all of creation and recognize the dignity of each individual in a special way this Laudato Si’ Week. We are mindful of our brothers and sisters within creation, especially those most affected. Engaging an ecological spirituality can nourish a spiritual vision of creation and encourage greater connection in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude for all.

Invitation for reflection & action:

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may
protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

– A Prayer for our Earth written by Pope Francis for Laudato Si’

 

 

Day 3: Choosing Ecological Options

Laudato Si’ Week is a great time to think about the products, devices, and services we use at home, at work, and within our communities. We are asked to “replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing” (Laudato Si’, 9).

Invitation for reflection & action:
In addition to the financial cost of a purchase, the “total cost of ownership” includes energy/fuel needed to obtain and use the item, product and packaging materials, impacts of the purchase on the local economy, and options for disposal or re-use. Many times, the most ecological option is using the one you already have.

Is there an alternative to buying a new item or product I want? When making a purchase, how can I consider the “total cost of ownership” for items such as household or workplace supplies, electronics, clothing, Amazon or other online shopping, etc.?

 

Day 4: Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles

Adopting sustainable lifestyles is grounded in the idea of sufficiency and promoting moderation in the use of resources and energy. We are mindful of what and how much we use because our footprints impact the people and places around us. Related actions can include reducing waste and recycling, choosing sustainable dietary habits like opting for a more plant-based diet and reducing meat consumption, greater use of public transport and walking/cycling, and avoiding single use items (especially plastics).

Invitation for reflection & action:
How ecologically sustainable are my uses of resources such as fuel, electricity, water? What impacts do my food choices have on the environment? What is one step I can take this week to lessen my footprint?

 

Day 5: Nurture Hope

Although Laudato Si’ Week wraps up this weekend, the message of Laudato Si’ is always in season. May our connection with all of creation be a source of hope as we remember that “all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.” (Laudato Si’, 42). We can continue celebrating and taking action to care for our common home.

Invitation for reflection & action:
This weekend, we encourage you to spend time with creation. Whether it is a large open space, a small city garden, or a simple patio plant may you find peace and nurture a sense of hope in the beauty of the natural world.

*New* Summary of Laudato Si’

Pope Francis presents our father St. Francis as a model for contemporary Catholic eco-spirituality, referring to him more than ten times in this teaching.

“He (St. Francis) 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.” Laudato Si’ 10

St. Francis is presented an example par excellence of Integral ecology, a new term introduced by Laudato Si’. This concept is a contemporary expression of a classic Franciscan philosophy of nature, of the relationship between God, humanity, and nature.

Integral ecology means developing–and living out!–a relational and caring worldview, and this demands that we address two inter-related crises: persistent, degrading global poverty and global environmental disruption.

“He (Francis) shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.” LS 10

Care for the poor and care for the Earth–this approach is not new in the Church or the Order, but it is presented more forcefully and concretely in this encyclical.

Common good is presented as a moral value to guide our action, but Laudato Si’ expands our traditional understanding by including all of creation as a global commons, and the obligation to protect the Earth and its ecosystems for future generations.

We proceed together in dialogue. Pope Francis calls for collaborative approaches at the global, national, and regional scales, and between all sectors of society, to fashion a more just and sustainable world. Think of these dialogues as a shared practice of discernment that leads to bold action.

Ecological education and spirituality are proposed as key elements to help us grow in ecological consciousness and environmental virtue ethics.

“A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” LS 202

Laudato Si’ calls for more and better education. This vision of education for social transformation is much broader than classroom activities. It should take place in schools, homes, communities, catechesis, and the media. It should result in “a new lifestyle,” one that is moderate, sober, and ecological.

 Youth and young adults are commended for their environmental leadership.

“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.” LS 13

Laudato Sí and our path to renewal

Pope Francis has provided a primer for 21st century Catholic eco-spirituality and socio-ecological transformation. He calls for a profound ecological conversion, in our hearts but expressed by our behavior.

“There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself.” LS 118

Pope Francis calls for a conversion heart, a spirituality that can motivate a more passionate concern for the protection of the world. What does the pope prescribe?

“An ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems and in offering ourselves to God ‘as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable.’” LS 220

Penance is not a stance that inspires dread in us, but rather, joy! For we Franciscans know that it leads us in to greater intimacy with God.

“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
  •  Prayer with God in nature is good. Chapter 6 of Laudato Si’ outlines an ecological spirituality that encourages prayer with creation.
  •  Our relationship with the Earth should be characterized by love, gratitude, praise, worship and appreciation of beauty. These are values are presented to all Christians.
  •  Care for the Earth and care for the poor go together. Our efforts for economic justice and environmental protection have to work hand in hand.
  • Work for the common good is global. Ecological common good means good for everyone and everything everywhere! The term “common good” is mentioned 22 times. Laudato Si’ proposes collaborative approaches, worked out between many different sectors of society, to pursue a vision of protecting the planet and human flourishing.
  • Prayer in communion. Our communities have a special responsibility to bring the message of the encyclical to life in our worship, common prayer, and public witness. The very title of Laudato Si’, Praise Be to You, is inspired, of course, by the poem of St. Francis. It is a prayer in the language of worship, and a liturgical vision is woven throughout the encyclical. The Lord can use these to further our ecological conversion—if we enter in to the grace they offer.
  • Beauty is a path to God. Laudato Si’ presents love of beauty as a spiritual practice. St. Augustine claimed that beauty is a name for God, and many Franciscans throughout history have sought the face of God through natural beauty. Francis spent considerable time in hermitages, practicing contemplation surrounded by natural beauty.

This summary of Laudato Si’ is offered by Br. Keith Douglass Warner, OFM, Animator of Lifelong Franciscan Formation for the US Franciscans.  Click here for a PDF version

For more resources on the Laudato Si’ encyclical, such as chapter summaries and discussion guides, visit our Laudato Si’ Resource Library.

In the Spirit of St. Francis

The Secular Franciscan Order of the St. Francis Region was invited to participate with Laudato Si’ Spirit in journeying with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. Patricia Grace, OFS shares an update. 

In the Spirit of St. Francis:
Love the Lord, Love the Earth, Love God’s Kingdom

The message of the encyclical, Laudato Si’, is that it is our sacred duty to preserve the beauty and bounty of the earth, our common home, and to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. The Secular Franciscan Order of the St. Francis Region accepted the invitation with joy and in gratitude to participate in integral ecology initiative of Laudato Si’ Spirit. It is a joyful way to be in community and celebrate the Franciscan family as we honor and fulfill this sacred duty.

In response to this invitation, we gathered on October 1, 2022 at Mission San Luis Rey for “Living and Leading Laudato Si’,” a workshop facilitated by Brother Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M. Through animated presentations and lively group discussions we learned of the climate problems and the effects on our common home, Sister Mother Earth, suffered most profoundly by the poor.

Brother Keith also shared practical steps for integrating our Franciscan spirituality with Franciscan leadership to live out the vision of both St. Francis and Pope Francis. Laudato Si’ Spirit Program Coordinator, Mercedes Matthews, M.Div. offered resources and on-going support for taking ecological action and engaging with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Many of us present took the message back to our fraternities. On February 13, 2023 we convened our first meeting of the Laudato Si’ Focus Group for the Secular Franciscans of the St. Francis Region. Our discussion was open and free-flowing, with many wonderful ideas set forth. At this time in our Franciscan lives and with this initiative, we wish to move forward with some practical and concrete steps.

  • Examine our own lifestyles to understand how we as individuals contribute to the climate crisis and the changes we may make in our own lives
  • Explore possible activities and actions by our fraternities and our parishes
  • Acknowledge possible civic engagement and participation in national and global Catholic initiatives for the care of our common home

Over the next two months we will take the message back to our fraternities and continue to reach out to other fraternities as we open the discussion for all voices to be heard. We wish to put on our Franciscan lens and move forward in carrying the message of Laudato Si’ to our fraternities and engage with our sisters and brothers there, in spiritual and practical activities that will further the call to care for our common home.

Peace and All Good,
Patricia Grace, OFS

Patricia is a member of the Immaculate Conception Fraternity and serves as the JPIC Animator for the St. Francis Region of the Secular Franciscan Order. She is also part of the Care for Creation Team for the Diocese of San Diego and a member of the Laudato Si’ Spirit Guidance Council.

Secular Franciscans from across the St. Francis Region gather for the “Living and Leading Laudato Si'” Workshop with Br. Keith Warner, OFM in October 2022.
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Community Connection: Introducing Eco-Maniacs

Alethea Brewer, creator of Eco-Maniacs and Executive Coordinator at St. Anthony’s Foundation, shares her creative way of living Laudato Si’ and being an encouragement to others. Check out a recent Eco-Maniacs article below! 

What is Eco-Maniacs?

Eco-Maniacs shares a fun, light-hearted, hopeful way that we can live Laudato Si’. Each edition features an invitation to learn something new and to take a small step connected to what we already do daily. Small changes are possible and can create a big impact for our world. It started as a series within our staff newsletter at St. Anthony’s Foundation, but anyone can be an Eco-Maniac! 

What was your inspiration for starting Eco-Maniacs?

In addition to a personal interest in the environment, I was inspired by one of the characteristics of a Franciscan ministry, “We honor the connectedness of all of creation.” At St. Anthony’s Foundation we’re trying to look at the bigger picture and find ways to reduce waste, repurpose items and recycle appropriately. We do great work for the community we serve and we can do good for the environment too. As an organization, and as individuals, we can always do more to care for our common home. I share ideas that are on my mind, things that I’ve started doing that I think other people can relate to. I hope people will read it, be encouraged, and start doing something new. 

Alethea Brewer shows off compostable coffee pods for the first edition of Eco-Maniacs.

Do you have any favorite editions?

Around the holidays I created one called “Don’t get so wrapped up!” about recycling wrapping paper and knowing which kinds aren’t recyclable. There’s also a fun “Hair Despair” edition featuring Cousin Itt that shares the benefits of adding hair to organic fertilizer for plants. The editions with photos and cute images always get the most response and that one really caught people’s attention.  

What is your hope for Eco-Maniacs?

My hope is that people will read Eco-Maniacs, get a smile and put into practice what they’ve learned. I follow the approach from the African-American proverb “each one, teach one.” In a fun way, we can realize we’re all connected and that we each play a part in caring for creation. Let’s all do it together!

Looking for more fun info and tips? Click here to check out more Eco-Maniacs editions.

Monthly Series: Journeying with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Journeying With the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a new monthly webinar series offering the global community opportunities to learn about topics related to Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, integral ecology, and the 7 Laudato Si’ Goals. Learn from a diverse lineup of speakers as they share their expertise and practical tips to inform, inspire, and strengthen your Laudato Si’ journey.

Each month features a different theme and offers encouragement for working toward goals, celebrating successes and learning from challenges. There’s something for everyone along each step of developing and living out your unique  Laudato Si’ Action Plan

 

 

In January, Dr. Erin Lothes, author of Inspired Sustainability: Planting Seeds for Action and Senior Manager of the Laudato Si’ Animators program, explores how:

  • A sense of wonder and awe can support your concrete commitments to integral ecology
  • Ecospirituality connects you and your Catholic faith with the environment
  • Engaging your head, heart, and hands will make you a better practitioner of environmental sustainability
  • To prayerfully discern your own personal Laudato Si´Action Platform goals for the upcoming year

February’s webinar features perspectives on:

  • How we can rediscover the interconnectedness Pope Francis calls us all to bear witness to in Laudato Si’
  • How that interconnectedness can drastically impact our everyday life and actions towards one another and our planet
  • How, through the social dimension of ecology, we can discover the many ways Gospel love leads us to answer the needs of those around us and our suffering planet

Presenters:
Vincent Miller, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, University of Dayton, USA

Alice Carwardine, Catholic Earth Care Animator, Caritas Australia, and founder of Overturn the Tables, Australia

March 2023. Presented by Alice Carwardine, Catholic Earth Care Animator, Caritas Australia, and Michael Schuck of Loyola University in Chicago, this thought-provoking webinar will help you:

  • Set goals and take actions that bring together care of the Earth and care of the poor.
  • Live out practical suggestions relevant to your journey toward integral ecology.
  • Better understand how God may be inviting you to serve the poor through ecological action this Lenten season and all year long.

April’s webinar is based on the Laudato Si’ Goal 2: Response to the Cry of the Earth. Youth movement leaders who are taking ecological action and courageously paving new paths for all generations to get involved will share:

  • their commitment to our common home
  • what keeps them hopeful
  • the role of the community in strengthening the global call for eco-action

May’s webinar focuses on Laudato Si’ Goal 5: Ecological Education.  Learn about ecological activities and experiences from students in Scotland, India, Japan, Portugal and Chile, and meet members of the Schools Working Group, who are actively implementing Laudato Si’ in educational institutions.

This month’s webinar is designed for educators, parents and anyone invested in planting seeds of ecological stewardship and care for the poor in our young generations.

“The Letter” presents an exclusive dialogue with Pope Francis and highlights the profound impact of climate change on the lives of five individuals and their communities from around the world.

In June’s webinar, you will learn about the inspiration behind the creation of this compelling film and hear insights from:
  • Lorna Gold, Director of Movement Building at FaithInvest and one of the protagonists in ¨The Letter¨, as she sheds light on the urgent need for action and the role of communities in addressing the environmental challenges we face.
  • Reba Elliott, Laudato Si’ Movement Senior Director for Strategy, Planning, and Special Projects, on what shaped the film’s development and the potential it now has to mobilize communities on the ecological journey offered through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
  • Other Laudato Si’ Action Platform participants who are screening ¨The Letter¨ in their own communities and are already seeing its power to spark ecological action and commitment.

July’s webinar explores the impact of climate change and pollution on human health, with a special focus on how healthcare organizations can contribute to solving the problem and create more sustainable operations. We will also offer practical suggestions for actively participating in caring for the planet and improving human health.

Presenters:

  • Gary Cohen, Founder and President at Health Care Without Harm
  • Indu Spugnardi, Director, Advocacy and Resource Development, Catholic Health Association of the United States
  • Angela Garcia, Executive Director at Global Links

August’s webinar features inspiring stories, challenges, and successes from young leaders and participants of 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. Hear from World Youth Day participants and other young people involved in impactful projects that put their faith into action through integral ecology.

  • How can young people bring leadership in the process of ecological conversion that translates into actions?
  • How can our activities in the upcoming Season of Creation make sure to include young people from the start?

September’s webinar will explore the intersection of justice, peace, and integral ecology as we collectively journey towards a more sustainable and harmonious world. Hear a conversation on continued ecological conversion and how it translates to tangible actions in our daily life, including: 

  • Creating a sense of belonging in local communities
  • Formulating effective local policies
  • Contributing meaningfully to global initiatives such as the upcoming COP28

Continue the journey!

Visit the Laudato Si’ Action Platform YouTube page for all videos and translations. 

Most webinars are also available in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French. 

Being Present to Presence: A Nature Meditation

Joining us for a guest post is Joe Lonergan, Director of Student Services and Spiritual Formation, at the Franciscan School of Theology.

“The first garden, Eden, is the eternal paradiso. We were never taken away from it because that garden is Christ. The gift of contemplation – being awestruck and aware of this unity and community of all things – comes
implanted and imprinted in each of us”
 

Riley, Dan. Franciscan Lectio: Reading the World Through the Living Word  (Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2022), 112.

Every Thursday morning during the 2022-2023 school year, Franciscan School of Theology hosts a contemplative sit in the Garden of the Sea at the University of San Diego. This beautiful garden overlooking Mission Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the city of San Diego, is a serene and beautiful space to greet one’s day. It is alive with active hummingbirds, several varieties of blooming flowers, some majestic pine trees, and cleansing winds.

Resting on the end of the garden overlooking the panoramic view of San Diego is a simple statue of St. Francis. It is at this point that we take time each Thursday to listen to a brief Franciscan reflection and then enter into twenty minutes of silence together and being present with “this unity and community of all things.” Oftentimes, the sit will begin with this statue covered in shadow, but by the end of our time, it is emblazoned with sunlight.

This intentional time set aside helps us enter a divine intimacy. “Think of it in this radical, spiritual way – of a creature returning to its creator with a longing and true passion to be with the One who has made us” (Riley, 114). So, in a very authentic way, we are opening ourselves up to a vibrant, relational world and a God who lives and dances through it all.

This time of prayer and being present to the moment also connects us to the message of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “on care for our common home.” To find ways to live out the meaning of this landmark letter, we see our contemplative sit as a necessary posture to help us be more aware of and proactive in caring for creation. This is confirmed by Pope Francis’ words, “We are speaking of an attitude of heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full” (LS 226).

Selective focus of purple candle

Advent 2022

Prayers, reflections and suggested actions to enhance your Advent journey in the light of Laudato Si’

Advent quote

Howard Thurman (1899-1931) was an African-American minister and educator who served as a spiritual advisor to the Rev. Martin Luther King. Thurman’s meeting with Mahatma Gandhi between 1935-36 strongly influenced his commitment to non-violence.

Advent with Pope Francis and Laudato Si'​

An Advent retreat guided by the words of Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si’ to prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – the light of the world and all Creation. Learn more and sign up on Hozana. 

Libraries of other Advent resources
Insights and reflections for Advent

Spend Advent with Laudato Si’ and a question: What is God asking of me?

A series of Advent reflections made available by EarthBeat, a project of National Catholic Reporter.  Originally published in 2019, the weekly reflections still resonate.

“Creation as the Body of God” by Richard Rohr

Many versions of this article focused on incarnation are available online. Click below for one from Earth Ministry/WAIPL in their Winter 2014 Earth Letter journal (pages 8-9). While you’re there check out the rest of the articles connecting care for creation to the Advent and Christmas seasons.

…Two thousand years ago was the human incarnation of God in Jesus, but before that there was the first and original incarnation through light, water, land, sun, moon, stars, plants, trees, fruit, birds, serpents, cattle, fish, and “every kind of wild beast” according to our own creation story (Genesis 1:3-25). This was the “Cosmic Christ” through which God has “let us know the mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made from the beginning in Christ” (Ephesians 1:9). Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but the title for his life’s purpose…

Wonder – Wonder – Wander

Reflections and recommendations for how wonder (noun), wondering (verb) and wandering (verb) can enrich one’s spiritual and mental health practices. Although the post is not specifically about Advent, it offers a framework for experiencing any season through a lens of appreciation for creation.

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2 New Webinar Series this Fall

Join live sessions or watch the recordings
for these two new webinar series highlighting Laudato Si’ themes 

Old Mission Santa Barbara is hosting an exciting 3-part virtual speaker series, “Climate Change: Caring for Our Common Home.” Join the talks live on September 28, October 5 and October 12 or watch the recordings anytime. 

Click here to watch the recording of “Listening to the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor” with Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, UCSD 

Click here to watch the recording of “Ecospirituality: Journey into Greater Ecological Consciousness” with Br. Keith Warner, OFM

Click here to watch the recording of “Environmentalism: Responses Across Faiths” with Cassandra Carmichael, NRPE

Confronting Environmental Racism with a Franciscan Heart / 4-part webinar series

Each online gathering includes viewing a short documentary and hearing from a speaker from one the “sacrifice zones” in the U.S. Join one or more Thursdays at 1pm Pacific: September 8, October 13, November 10, December 8 (final session is a discussion with climate activists).

To learn more, register and access recordings, please visit: https://franciscanaction.org/confronting-environmental-racism/

Presented by Franciscan Action Network, the Franciscan Federation and the Franciscan Friars (OFM) US-6 JPIC Working Group.

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Laudato Si’ Stories

Across the Saint Barbara Province, ministry sites continue taking action to care for our common home. Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on around the region. 

Are you taking action to care for our common home?

Whether you’re making small steps or working towards a big project, everything has an impact and we want to hear about it. Building community through storytelling is part of our Franciscan tradition. Help us highlight the creative ideas and good work going on in our Franciscan family.

Season of Creation 2022

Each year, the Season of Creation offers a special time for the world-wide Christian family to join together in celebration and action for our common home. Beginning on September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and concluding on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Season of Creation is filled with opportunities for prayer, reflection, action and advocacy. Visit the official Season of Creation website to learn more about this year’s symbol of the burning bush and the theme of “Listen to the Voice of Creation.”

Our invitation to you this Season of Creation

Our invitation during this special time is to create your own Laudato Si’ Action Plan as you continue your “journey towards sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology.” 

  1. Reflect on what you’re already doing. Chances are you’ve already taken some steps recently to care for creation. Take a self-assessment to find out how you’re already living out Laudato Si’ and gain some ideas of new steps you can take.
  2. Brainstorm action steps. 
  3. Create an Action Plan. Click here for a simple template you can use. 
  4. Share with us! We’d love to learn about your Laudato Si’ journey and find out how we can support you. Share your action plan with us and we’ll provide encouragement and offer check-ins to help you stay on track. This is also a great way to be part of our Franciscan community of people across the Western US that are also living Laudato Si’ with a Franciscan heart. 

Other ways to participate

Community & Creation with Friars in Formation

Under the warm June sun with a cool ocean breeze, OFM friars in formation from across the country gathered for fellowship, education and fun over three days at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, CA. This year’s annual Jamboree gathering for postulants, novices, friars in temporary vows and their directors included an afternoon of experiencing the message of Laudato Si’. 

Laudato Si’ Spirit, invited by the Jamboree planning team, engaged with friars in an afternoon of reflection, activity, and prayer focused on integral ecology and hearing the cry of the earth and cry of the poor. Beginning with an overview of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, the afternoon first invited the friars to reflect on the past year in relation to the  7 Laudato Si’ Goals.  Friars paired up, found outdoor spaces for conversation, and completed an abbreviated self-assessment based on just one of the Laudato Si’ goals. Since reflecting on actions and activities over the past year can help in looking toward the future, the friars were encouraged to consider, “What is one action you would like to propose to your friary?”

Photos by Carlos Portillo

Gathering at a small tree grove on the Mission property, the friars were then invited to make a commitment to care for creation and to help plant fruit trees as a sign of that commitment. With each set of hands contributing, the friars planted three trees–apple, grapefruit, and avocado– that will each live on, adding to the variety and beauty of the land. 

The highlight of the afternoon was gathering among the pine trees for a basketweaving activity with Diania Caudell (Luiseño), a member of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. Diania, along with three other basketweaver aides, introduced the friars to the tradition of basketweaving as part of the rich Luiseño heritage and then guided the friars through making their own baskets. 

Due to the rarity of traditional materials and the complexity of the Luiseño technique, Diania taught the Cherokee style of weaving (with permission from the Cherokee Nation). As Diania shared, Luiseño Indians traditionally use plants native to the region such as deergrass, juncus and sumac for their weaving. However, these plants are becoming harder to find growing in nature and when found, often are contaminated with pesticides making them unsafe for weaving. Surely an example of the need to better care for creation! 

 

Photo by Linda Causee
Photos by Carlos Portillo

Concluding the afternoon with reflection and prayer, friars and weavers gathered together around the newly created baskets. Each basket unique, just like the hands that created it. Lifting every voice, each person contributed to the prayer by sharing a short reflection based on a word from the opening of Laudato Si’. The group was then blessed with a closing prayer from Mel Vernon, captain of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. A sacred ending to the special afternoon of honoring community and creation.

Photo by Linda Causee 

Laudato Si’ Week 2022

Join the global celebration of’ “Listening and Journeying Together” as we mark the 7-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Laudato Si’ Week, sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and facilitated by Laudato Si’ Movement, is filled with opportunities to educate, reflect, pray and act on our relationship with all of creation.

Visit the official Laudato Si’ Week 2022 website for a list of events from around the world – workshops, seminars, interfaith dialogues, prayer gatherings, liturgies, film screenings, etc. Most are offered live online with recordings available to watch anytime.

Don’t miss the Laudato Si’ Festival with music, prayer and speakers from Assisi, Italy! Taking place at the Basilica of St. Francis, this international festival highlights eco-spirituality and art as a range of musicians bring the spirit of joy in creation to life.
When: Saturday May 28 at 12noon Pacific Time
Click here for the event page with livestream and recording info. 

Laudato Si’ Week 2022 officially closes with a prayer gathering from Brumadinho, Brazil, with testimonies of people affected by climate crisis. Join live or watch the recording for the closing presentation on Community resilience and empowerment as part of our Synodal Journey.
When: Sunday May 29 at 6am Pacific/9am Eastern
Click here for the event page with livestream and recording info. 

During this week of celebration, we’re highlighting just a few examples of the many new initiatives going on in our region.

Friars living at Old Mission Santa Barbara save food scraps and coffee grounds. The novices take them directly to the Huerta Garden where they are composted into rich soil. 

St. Francis Center in Los Angeles has begun providing more sustainable, compostable utensils for the staff. Instead of single use plastic, these utensils can be used, washed, and when no longer needed, can be composted in a garden. They’ve also become much more efficient with their ice machine. All the ice needed for the week is now made in one day so the machine can be turned off for the rest of the week. Jasmine Bravo, Executive Director, commented that the videos shared during Legacy Day really opened their eyes to how lots of little things can add up to making a big difference.

Have you started new activities or habits as part of your Laudato Si’ Action Plan? We’d love to hear about it! 

Click here and look for the “Connect with Us” box to share stories from your journey toward integral ecology.

Legacy Day: Celebrating a Franciscan Tradition of Caring for our Common Home

As Franciscans, responding to the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” are among our strongest values. For the 3rd annual Legacy Day, ministries of the St. Barbara Province engaged in education, reflection, and action based on the Laudato Si’ Goals – with a focus on the intersection of caring for creation and having a preferential option for the poor. A province-wide celebration of the Franciscan movement alive in our ministries, Legacy Day is an opportunity for ministries across many miles to act as one community in caring for our common home in the spirit of integral ecology.

The day began with ministries gathering together virtually for prayer, reflections, and an educational video on climate change before engaging in different service projects. Each ministry designed and implemented a Laudato Si’ activity based on their unique context to meet the needs of their community. After service projects and lunch, the day concluded with a final virtual gathering where each site shared photos and learnings from their experiences together. From letter writing campaigns and park beautification, to planting fruit trees and creating hygiene kits for those in need, the projects reflect both our diverse Franciscan family and our shared value of caring for all of creation.

Read more about Legacy Day from participants at Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, CA and St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco, CA. 

Check out a sampling of photos and projects from our 2022 Legacy Day!
Close up shot of paper cutouts

Earth Day & Community Resilience Campaign 

Earth Day is April 22. Opportunities for action and advocacy all month long…and beyond!

A National Catholic Campaign for Climate Solutions: May 2-6

Encounter for Our Common Home is a national campaign that brings together Catholics across the country to urge our U.S. Senators to enact authentic solutions to the climate crisis. These encounters with our Senators will come from the foundation of our Catholic faith and in accordance with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Earth Day 2022 Resources

Community Connection: Introducing our Logo & Designer

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis highlights that what we often call the environment or nature isn’t a space or setting separate from ourselves but rather it is a relationship of which we are part. He reminds us that “everything is interconnected.” (138)

For artist and graphic designer Eusebio Cortez, seeing relationships and patterns in the visible world is the beginning of every creative project. “Nature already has perfect designs and the perfect color palette,” he says. “Just looking outside or taking a walk I can see the divine artwork of creation all around.” It’s this perspective, along with his graphic design skills, that made Eusebio the perfect fit to create the original logo for Laudato Si’ Spirit. 

“I designed the logo to really match the name of Laudato Si’ Spirit,” Eusebio reflects. “The images of a dove and an upturned hand communicate the idea of relationship between all of creation that is infused with the Holy Spirit.” As the colors of orange, yellow and green blend together, the different elements also transform one into the other. The dove is an image of peace, hope and our brother and sister animals with whom we share this common home. The hand, palm up in a gesture of care, represents humanity receiving the gift of creation as well as our responsibility to reach out in service. The subtle figure of a leaf links these elements together honoring the connection between everything and everyone in God’s creation. 

Eusebio adds that while “a key feature of this project was to complement the Laudato Si’ Action Platform website, the heart of the design is reflecting the connection between the cry of the earth and cry of the poor.” Through his small business, Creative Pallette Designs, Eusebio has worked with several Franciscan organizations, including the Franciscan School of Theology where he is earning a Master of Theological Studies. 

Lent 2022 Resources

Prayers, reflection guides, and suggested actions to enhance your Lenten journey in the light of Laudato Si’.

Stations of the Cross: Renew the Earth

  • Stations of the Cross prayer guide in English and Spanish
  • Walk with Jesus and those who have been displaced by the effects of climate change around the world.
  • Created by Jesuit Refugee Service

Laudato Si' Lent 2022

  • Resources and weekly themes, ecological way of the cross virtual events every Friday, Ecological Examen, and more
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • A program of Laudato Si’ Movement

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development

  • A library of Lenten reflections, prayers, family resources for Ash Wednesday through Easter.
  • Sign up for CAFOD’s Lent Calendar to receive daily email reflections to journey through Lent with our global family.

Catholic Climate Covenant

A library of Lenten resources and calendars for individuals and groups.

 

 

40 Days; 40 Ways

A Guide to a “Green Lent” created by Franciscan Action Network (FAN)

 

 

Franciscan Values Lenten Reflection Videos

Earth & Justice Freedom-Seder

Multifaith Passover Freedom-Seder for street and table
Created by The Shalom Center, 2022