On Care for our Common Home: Laudato Si Meditations
By Richard R-Williams
We were a group of 11, with varying expectations of the retreat, to be led by Professor Celia Deane-Drummond. With a science-based education and having worked as a civil engineer, I had been taking the climate change debate seriously for several years. Pope Francis' encyclical was therefore an encouraging factor for the realistic and timely stewardship of planet Earth. Having also (partly) read Prof Celia's book Eco-Theology I was somehow expecting a more "academic" retreat, despite its description in the St Beuno's programme! We were actually offered a few related paragraphs from Laudato Si (encyclical) for meditation in the manner of Lectio Divina, first individually in silence, then sharing in small groups. In a full day we had three 70-minute sessions with this pattern, including introduction and conclusion by Prof Celia. She was available at other times for more technical questions as requested. St Beuno's peace, sunshine, worship and good food also made their contribution.
As a guide to the structure of the encyclical, we looked at St Francis' original "Laudato Si" poem, together with aspects of Liberation Theology. In his own schooling up to age 18 in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) had studied to become a Chemical Technician, but his call to the religious life left that training in the background.
The theme of Integral Ecology (in the encyclical) I found helpful, uniting the science of the climate (and likely changes), concern for people who are likely to suffer from these changes but are often ignored, together with vulnerable species and ecosystems that have no voice at all.
Pope Francis appeals to all people of faith to do what they can to sustain the beauty and diversity of this our home planet, to the glory of God and for the many generations to come.