Our common home
In the Acts of the 37th General Chapter, the theme of ‘Our Common Home’ is given focus several times and with various emphases. The Acts refer to the common home of the Oblate community in which we find ourselves, as well as the common home of our congregation throughout the world. We are reminded, in the words of Laudato Si’ that the earth is also our common home. I will focus on the call to care for the earth, our common home.
In his address to the capitulars gathered for the papal audience, Pope Francis focussed on the commitment of the Chapter to care for our common home:
“In this Chapter, you have also often evoked your commitment to the common home, seeking to translate it into concrete decisions and actions. I encourage you to continue to work in this direction. Our mother earth nourishes us without asking for anything in exchange; it is up to us to understand that she cannot continue to do so if we do not also take care of her.” (Pope Francis in his address to capitulars)
The Acts also focus on the care for creation:
15.1 Study Laudato Si’ and uphold its value and urgency in all our communities. Sustain and promote our positive programs and activities and connect to other groups through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform of the Church. Be mindful of the simple things we can do in our communities, e.g., recycling. (Chapter message, B. Hope, Some Mission Directions)
And in the Recommendations and Mandates, section F. Laudato Si’, we read:
- Each Oblate and every Oblate community, ministry, and institution, will undertake a process of reflection and concrete action leading to a “prophetic and contemplative lifestyle” (LS222), an “attitude of the heart” that looks at creation with the eyes of our crucified Savior (C4), and with Jesus’ look of love (LS226; cf.Mk.10:21)
- The 37th General Chapter invites Oblate lay associates and associations to collaborate in this effort according to the conditions and circumstances of their life.
If we pay attention to the news media, we are presented with much information regarding climate change and the effects of global warming: dramatic changes in climate patterns, floods, drought, wildfires, melting of the polar ice caps, etc. Presented with vast amounts of information, it is quite easy to give in to a feeling of helplessness; after all, what can I do about this worldwide problem. Is this not a concern for the governments of the world. Should not our political leaders be solving the issue, with the help of science? The Acts present us with a very different path; each individual and each community is challenged to take action.
So, what can I do to protect the environment? First of all, I must be mindful that all of my individual actions, combined with those of the rest of the world’s population contribute to the care for creation or the lack thereof. Next, I’m called to reflect on my use of the resources at hand; am I wasteful, do I seek to reduce the amount of resources I use, am I mindful of recycling and reusing materials. Walking or taking public transit rather than driving alone in a vehicle might seem like an inconvenience and perhaps a very minor step, and yet every instance reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Plant a tree, grow a vegetable garden (even a small one), use seasonal, local produce, be mindful of water usage ….the list is endless if we seek alternatives to the way most of us live today; the internet is a goldmine! Pope Francis calls as to care for our common home, the 37th General Chapter reiterates that call; our individual response is a matter of life or death for our environment.
By Richard Beaudette, OMI