82. Yet it would also be mistaken to view other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination. When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society. This vision of “might is right” has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all. Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus. As he said of the powers of his own age: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:25-26).
Reflection: The UN Development Program reports that the richest 20 percent of the world's population consumes 86 percent of the world's resources while the poorest 80 percent consume just 14 percent. Pope Francis reminds us that this “winner takes all” position is “completely at odds” with the values of Jesus. How aware of you of your own consumption of food, energy, single use plastics, disposable packaging? In what ways do you understand your own personal consumption as part of the larger problem of natural resources and care for creation?
Action: With increased awareness comes increased responsibility. Keep track this week of single use plastics and disposable packaging in your life and work, and make a commitment to reduce your use. Share your thoughts, feelings, and questions with others.
Spaces of Hope
Certainly hope is very necessary for us in our exile, it's what consoles us on the journey. When the traveler, after all, finds it wearisome walking along, he puts up with the fatigue precisely because he hopes to arrive. Rob him of any hope of arriving, and straightaway his strength is broken for walking. So the hope also which we have here, is part and parcel of the justice of our exile and our journey. Saint Augustine Sermon 158, 8
Deep faith and high courage urged Mother Theresa to risk already meager resources to satisfy needs wherever she was called. In her spirit we respond to God’s call expressed in our times. Like her, we educate in schools and in other areas of urgent need; like her, we exclude no one from our concern, but are especially sensitive to youth and women and are impelled to prefer the poor. (You Are Sent 24)
Partnership with Haiti
Read this report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Road blockade shatters resilience in southern Haiti.” Here’s the introduction: “In early June, a team from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Haiti conducted a field trip across the four departments of the country’s southern peninsula. Nearly a year after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake and Hurricane Grace devastated the region, OCHA wanted to analyse the recovery progress and understand the current challenges people are dealing with. Over 14 days, the team drove almost 1,200 km to meet with communities and local organizations, and with workers and affected people receiving assistance from local, national and international NGOs.” Read the stories of those on the ground. This is why our SSND partnership with Haiti is so important!
Pope Francis will be visiting Canada (7/24-7/30) to apologize to Indigenous peoples for abuses they suffered at Catholic-run residential schools. Canada forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children to attend residential schools across the country between the late 1800s and 1990s. Thousands are believed to have died while attending the institutions, which were established and funded by the state but run by various religious denominations, most notably the Catholic Church. Learn more.
The Pope’s itinerary includes several encounters with Indigenous groups, as well as a visit to Maskwacis, home to the former Ermineskin Residential School, one of the largest residential school sites in Canada. Alberta, where the Pope lands first, is home to the largest number of former residential schools in Canada. Pope Francis will also have a private meeting with survivors of the schools in remote Iqualuit. Reconciliation is a process, not a singular event, but every journey is a series of steps.
The majority of Americans have traces of a weed-killing chemical in their urine, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What was once seen as a miracle herbicide used widely in both commercial and home use (in products like Roundup) is now known to be a likely carcinogen; learn more. Read about the efforts to manage this substance in Canada, where it is the also the most widely used herbicide. What goes into the earth and our food does not respect borders. Everything is connected on this earth and beyond.
In an address this month to a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Pope Francis outlined three spiritual elements of ecological conversion. "The first entails gratitude for God's loving and generous gift of creation. The second calls for acknowledging that we are joined in a universal communion with one another and with the rest of the world's creatures. The third involves addressing environmental problems not as isolated individuals but in solidarity as a community.” Read more here.
Wonder can be the first step to ecological conversion. Read the article and look at this first image from the Webb Space Telescope, and wonder at the genius of the Creator – the light from the galaxies shown is 4.6 billion years old! As you reflect on the image, take a moment to let it all sink in.
All change begins with one small step. Commit yourself to reading the Laudato Si’ reflection each week. One paragraph at a time you can stop and reflect on what we are all called to as a Laudato Si’ community! Share some of the parts of the newsletter with others who might not otherwise consider these issues.
End Human Trafficking
July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The theme this year is the “Use and Abuse of Technology.” Please consider leading or participating in this prayer service, developed for the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, in solidarity with all those who suffer the indignities of trafficking in all its forms. SSND are one of more than 100 congregations of Catholic Sisters working together to end human trafficking. Learn more about Human Trafficking, including myths about human trafficking. And keep the focus on the EARN IT act with your Congressional representatives; learn more and contact your representatives here.
Think that kids playing video games is always good innocent fun? Online exploitation of young people can begin with those “innocent” connections with others, some potentially posing as children themselves to set up an abusive relationship. Read more about “Online Gaming 101” and what to look for to protect our children. This might be a good handout in a parent packet for schools as well.