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Laudato Sí Fifth Anniversary: A New Way to See What Really Matters

As we mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home,” we can view both the climate crisis and coronavirus as global emergencies that disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable. The exposed deep injustices can only be solved by a global effort.

In this reflection written before the pandemic, LaDonna Manternach, BVM guides us to see what really matters.

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the gift of the consecrated life and ask [for] a new way of looking, that knows how to see grace, how to look for one’s neighbor, how to hope. Then, our eyes too will see salvation.” -Pope Francis, Feb. 2, 2020, World Day of Consecrated Life

The gift of sight is a marvelous sense; it is a key to understanding the world around us. In the Gospels, Jesus not only gifts a blind man with sight, but also challenges us to see what really matters in life through the parables and the Beatitudes. The English language includes words that demonstrate the significance of the sense of sight—insight, oversight, hindsight, foresight. We know how important it is to be and stay “focused.”

Intersectionality, a word to which we recently have been introduced, invites us to gain insight on a situation or problem by looking through the lens of another. It recognizes that various social factors combine and overlap (or intersect) to either advantage or disadvantage individuals and groups of people. It is impossible to look at just one of these factors without considering another.

The LCWR Assembly Resolution for 2019-2022 says:

Responding to God who loves all of creation into being, we recommit ourselves to create communion and examine root causes of injustice. We particularly focus on the intersection of racism, migration, and climate crisis [my emphasis]. We recognize a sense of urgency and pledge prayer, education, and advocacy. We will use our collective voice, resources, and power in collaboration with others to establish justice which reflects God’s creating love.”

We are challenged by this resolution to reflect on what we read in the news and to have mercy on those whose lives are most impacted by ingrained racism in our society, the save-your-life factors of migration, and the devastation of people and lands impacted by climate change. Those caught at the crossroads of these three factors are at the outermost margins of society. How and why have they been made invisible? What does the Gospel require of us in response? What is our response to them and how can solutions be generated?

This year 2020 celebrates both the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí. Perhaps there will be commemorations in your area and opportunities to look in a new way at solutions for our social challenges and see that all people are our neighbors. May we see what really matters.

God offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. God does not abandon us, God does not leave us alone, for God is united definitively to our earth, and God’s love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to God! Adapted from Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, #245

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