Written by: Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

Summer is a beautiful time for us to appreciate creation. The birds, the green grass, the rabbits, the water in the lake all call to us. The creation story in Genesis reminds us to care for God’s creation. It is one of the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching as well. This teaching is intertwined with our respect for the dignity of all people. The worst water conditions, the poorest air quality, the most damage to the soil from pollutants tend to be found most prominently in places where the poorest people live. Those who have the most, live up high in clean spaces with water filters and undamaged surroundings. But, those without the means find their conditions to be less pristine. Our care for creation impacts our solidarity with those in need. Things haven’t changed much since the time of St. Francis in terms of where the well-to-do live. In the late 1100s and early 1200s in Assisi, Italy, the rich lived in the high places, with the feudal lord perched in a castle on top of Mt. Subasio. Those with little or nothing were further down the hill, in the spaces where the waste from those above was carried down to the bottom of the hill by rain, to collect in their surroundings. Those with leprosy were sent outside the city walls, in even worse circumstances. Francis sought to care for all of creation, especially those in need. He spent time at the basest parts of the community caring for those with no protection. Pope Benedict XVI said in Charity in Truth, “On this earth there is room for everyone: here the entire human family must find the resources to live with dignity, through the help of nature itself—God’s gift to his children—and through hard work and creativity. At the same time we must recognize our grave duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and continue to cultivate it.” Pope Francis tells us in On Care for Our Common Home, “A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. . . . Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” Go out and enjoy creation this summer, but also consider the ways in which we might be responsible stewards of the beauty of what God has provided for us. Let’s care for our common home and for those around us with gentleness and joy.

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