Sunday, June 28, 2015

Eucharist and Creation: Laudato Si

Rather than reading about the new encyclical, let us commit to reading and reflecting on Laudato Si itself. Please read the paragraph from the encyclical (below).  If you'd like to make a comment that reflects your thoughts on this portion of the encyclical, please go to the blog (click here) and click on "Comments" under the post.  In this way, perhaps we can begin a conversation about the encyclical.

236. It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”.  The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation. The world which came forth from God’s hands returns to him in blessed and undivided adoration: in the bread of the Eucharist, “creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself ”.  Thus, the Eucharist is also a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer List, Continued

You will recall last month's suggestion of a film, McFarland USA, for the start of our "summer list."  This month, we suggest a book, Flannery O'Connor:Fiction Fired by Faith, by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell.  Part of the Liturgical Press People of God series, this book "tells the remarkable story of a gifted young woman who set out from her native Georgia to develop her talents as a writer and eventually succeeded in becoming one of the most accomplished fiction writers of the twentieth century" (from the book's description).

Quoting Flannery O'Connor, O'Donnell writes, "St. Thomas Aquinas says . . . that a work of art is a good in itself, and this is a truth that the modern world has largely forgotten.  We are not content to stay within our limitation and make something that is simply a good in itself.  Now we want to make something that will have a utilitarian value.  Yet what is good in itself glorifies God because it reflects God.  The artist has his hands full and does his duty if he attends to his art."

In describing O'Connor's goal of discovering how to be a Catholic writer, O'Donnell continues, "The Catholic writer should not seek to testify to her faith in the pages of her books or to convert her reader; instead, she should try to write the best fiction that she can.  This assurance freed O'Connor to devote herself to 'the good' in the form of her craft with the same fervor she devoted to the practice of her religion.  She would come to realize that her faith would naturally manifest itself in her art, regardless of the story she might be telling and regardless of whether there was any explicitly Catholic content" (p. 47).

(According to Liturgical Press, People of God is a brand-new series of inspiring biographies for the general reader. Each volume offers a compelling and honest narrative of the life of an important twentieth or twenty-first century Catholic. Some living and some now deceased, each of these women and men has known challenges and weaknesses familiar to most of us but responded to them in ways that call us to our own forms of heroism. Each offers a credible and concrete witness of faith, hope, and love to people of our own day.")

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Laudato Si Study Guide

The USCCB has provided a study guide for the encyclical Laudato Si.  The study guide, available here, contains a prayer service, group reflection questions, a social encyclical primer and additional resources.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Provincial Statement on Ecology

As we continue to reflect on the message of the papal encyclical, it is a good time to review the Province's Statement on Ecology, drafted in 2008.  It is available on our website (along with some other good resources), and is quoted below in its entirety. Question:  How are we doing with this commitment?

Sisters of Christian Charity, North American Eastern Province Statement on Ecology

Because we recognize creation as God's gift to us, 
the Sisters of Christian Charity are committed
to a harmonious and interdependent relationship
with the earth and its creatures.
We will be guided by the principles
of sustainability and environmental accountability
in our decisions and actions
as we claim responsibility 
toward self, others and all of creation.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fortnight for Freedom Begins Today

From the USCCB:  The Fortnight for Freedom:  Freedom to Bear Witness will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2015, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power -- St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  The theme of this year's Fortnight will focus on the "freedom to bear witness" to the truth of the Gospel.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The June 2015 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter is available here.  This month's issue highlights the thousands who seek employment only to be trapped in exploitative situations.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Prayer Service and Other Resources to Celebrate Encyclical

Education for Justice has provided a prayer service to celebrate Laudato Si, the newest papal encyclical released yesterday.  Click here to access the resource.

Additionally, the USCCB offers multiple resources, available here.

America Magazine offers mutliple viewpoints.

  • Click here for "The Franciscan Character of Laudato Si" by Daniel Horan, OFM.
  • Click here for "The Top Ten Takeaways from Laudato Si" by James Martin, SJ.
  • Click here for "What the Environmental Encyclical Means," by the editors of America.  This is a "roundup" of expert analysis of the encyclical.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Download/Read Laudato Si

The Holy Father's newly-released encyclical on the environment and human ecology, Laudato Si, is available here.

This is the prayer with which Pope Francis concludes the encyclical:

A prayer for our earth 

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one. O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mercy Investment Services' Human Trafficking Resources

The website of Mercy Investment Services contains an impressive collection of human trafficking resources on one web page.  Click here to view the user-friendly page, which is worthy of more than a few minutes of your time.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Never Justifiable

Writing in the June 22-29 issue of America, Daniel P. Horan, OFM proposes that church leaders give "a black-and-white answer to whether or not the death penalty is acceptable."  In the spirit of the "seamless garment" approach to Christian ethics, Horan suggests, "We must affirm that either all life is sacred or no life is sacred."  Horan's proposal would require a revision to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which echoes traditional church teaching by not excluding recourse to the death penalty (no. 2267).  Horan also suggests that the CCC be revised to remove the qualifier "innocent" when referring to human beings:  "While individuals may be guilty or innocent of a crime, all human life is sacred without qualification; there is neither innocent nor guilty life."  Click here to read the entire essay.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Laudato Si

As we prepare for Thursday's release of his much-anticipated "environment encyclical," Laudato Si (that is, "Be Praised" or "Praised Be"), the Holy Father used the parables of this Sunday's gospel to remind us that the Kingdom of God is a gift of the Lord, but it requires our collaboration.  Click here to read more about the address after Sunday's Angelus in which Pope Francis says of the encyclical:  "Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to us."

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has developed a new website entitled  Inspired by the US bishops' statement, "Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish," the site provides resources using these themes:  "Pray Together," "Reach Out Together," "Learn Together" and "Act Together."

Click here to watch a video introduction and here to go to the site.