Praise be to you, my Lord." These are the words that open Pope Francis' encyclical on ecology and care for God's creation. Quoting St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, the pope 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 was apparent on Aug. 21 when many in the archdiocese witnessed a total solar eclipse. What a spectacular scene as a false dusk settled in mid-afternoon, the sun's heat was tempered, cicadas sang, street lights glowed, and stars and planets winked.
Imagine if we saw all of God's creation with such awe and joy — as we did during the eclipse — every day, embracing the opportunity to understand His perfection through science and discovery. The regularity in which God created the universe, with the eclipse a prime example, is part of that understanding of the glory of God.
Research by Christian Smith of the University of Notre Dame found that many young people mistakenly see faith and science as incompatible. Yet the Catholic Church has long been, and continues to be, supportive of scientific discovery.
"Laudato Si' (On Care for Our Common Home)" is the appeal from Pope Francis addressed to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. The encyclical was written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with candor and humility.
The encyclical — and our experiences on Aug. 21 when so many of us interrupted our routines to observe the incredible phenomenon — remind us of our connection to all of humanity, to the created world, and to those who will come after us in future generations. As the encyclical explains, we are one human family and have a shared responsibility for others and for creation.
Love of God and concern for His creation requires us to love and protect other human beings, including the unborn, people with disabilities, those with different skin tones or of other races or from foreign lands, the marginalized and undeserved.
Love of God requires us to protect His creation, the water and the land, the plants and the trees, the birds and the cattle and the fish. And yes, the moon, too (see Genesis, chapter 1).
The faithful confidence that God created something out of nothing and the scientific journey to understand it go hand-in-hand. That's why Pope Francis said, "injustice is not invincible" — we must live God's vision of renewed relationships with God, ourselves, one another and creation.
The joy of scientific discovery is the pursuit of understanding God. That was evident when the sun hid briefly behind the moon, an experience of the wonder of God's creation. RELATED ARTICLE(S):Brother Sun, Sister Moon display awe and wonder of God’s creation for Poor Clare Nuns