In Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical Laudato Si’, mi Signore, or Praise be to you, my Lord, the focus is on care for our common home – the natural environment and all people, as well as broader questions of the relationship between God, humans, and the Earth.
Pope Francis opens his letter with the words: “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…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.”
So how can faith-filled people begin to show reverence for our earthly home? Here are some things we do:
- At the weekly brunch after Mass, more often than not, a soup is on the menu—it’s soup du jour, a flavorful concoction using vegetables from the garden, in season, and select leftovers from the previous days’ meals, always resulting in a delicious and satisfying addition to the brunch menu.
- Speaking of the garden, the Mountain community, under the guidance of Br. Kevin Kriso, ofm, plants, tends, and harvests an expansive garden, providing lettuces, tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, zucchini and a host of other summer vegetables for the community there, as well as for dozens of guests and visitors.
- When prepping meals and post-meal cleanup, many may reach for a paper towel. Not at Mt Irenaeus, a request for this household item would be met with “we don’t have any.” To eliminate unnecessary waste, the Mountain community uses cloth towels instead of paper, and once one gets used to the idea, it works quite well!
- Reusing items is commonplace at Mt. Irenaeus, and recycling happens without saying. Aluminum foil is routinely used multiple times, vegetable scraps are composted, and even leftovers, like bones, are repurposed to feed the critters that live in the woods on the Mountain land.
- Perhaps most visible at the Mountain are the solar panels installed last year, which ultimately could lead to 100 percent reliance on solar power.
- Lastly, conversatio about, and prayer for, our common home is a constant at Mt. Irenaeus, as is reverence for the natural world in which the Mountain is situated. A spider is gently relocated to the outdoors and birds feel safe enough to eat from our hands—everyday gestures that signify much more.
Small steps which lead to lifetime habits!
Laudato Si prayer for our common home
Triune God, help us to hear the cry of those in poverty,
and the cry of the earth, so that we may together care for our common home. Amen.