WHY IS IMPORTANT AN ECOLOGICAL SPIRITUALITY ?
Written by: Brother Ernesto Balderas Capuchin.
This week we have celebrated the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si. This is why, throughout the Church and throughout the world, we have carried out activities about the socio-environmental issue. From walks to clean dirty areas, moments of reflection on the state of the planet, review of our consumption habits and planning of new lifestyles. This week has been very fruitful, and I hope that throughout the Church it can continue to be, no longer a seed, but a beautiful tree that grows more and more and fills us with shade, air and freshness. But, at the end of this week, I don’t want the days to go by without making one last invitation. I would like us to let the call of Pope Francis resonate in us in his encyclical to live an integral conversion and to embrace an ecological spirituality. But some may be wondering what is that?
First we go with the integral conversion. Perhaps we are familiar with the concept of conversion, the one that we have been talked about for so long and that implies leaving our sin and turning to God, accepting his call to a full life with him, letting our hearts turn to him. That conversion thing sounds nice and hopeful, but it has very profound implications. The pope wants us to see it in his encyclical Laudato Si. In it he tells us that conversion, to be true, must be comprehensive and that it must consider the following problems: “the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected. Criticism of the new paradigm and the forms of power that derive from technology. The invitation to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value of each creature, the human sense of ecology, the need for sincere and honest debates. The serious responsibility of international and local politics. The culture of discarding and the proposal of a new lifestyle” (LS, N.16). The Pope wants to highlight something for us, that conversion, although it occurs in the heart, does not stop there, it takes place in our lives and takes shape in our societies and becomes palpable in our world. Everything is connected. This is why the pope invites us to a change of life that basically implies a new spirituality, an ecological spirituality.
But what does this new ecological spirituality consist of? The Pope Francis says that it consists in “letting all the consequences of being with Jesus Christ in our relationships with the world around us emerge.” (LS, N.217) Let us continue to listen to the Pope’s invitation when he explains to us the attitudes that this new spirituality should awaken in us: “This conversion presupposes various attitudes that come together to mobilize a generous and tender care. In the first place, it implies gratitude and gratuity, that is, an acknowledgment of the world as a gift received from the Father’s love that provokes gratuitous attitudes of renunciation and generous gestures as a consequence, even though no one sees or recognizes them. It also implies the loving awareness of not being disconnected from other creatures, of forming a precious universal communion with the other beings of the universe. In addition, by making the peculiar capacities that God has given him grow, ecological conversion leads the believer to develop his creativity and his enthusiasm to resolve the dramas of the world, offering himself to God as a living, holy and pleasing sacrifice” (LS, N. 220). Gratitude, gratuitousness, communion, solidarity and commitment are some of the values of this new spirituality. It is only through them that we will be able to respond to the crises in the world today and that is how we will be able to bear authentic witness to the One whom we follow and in whom we believe: the Risen Christ.
Brothers and sisters, may the Lord give us the strength to allow ourselves to be moved within by the crises of our world and ignite us with his Spirit so that this new, true and urgent conversion may blossom within us. May Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology, pray for us!.