Pope Francis on care for creation as a new work of mercy

Today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

Pope Francis has suggested that we add to the works of mercy to care for creation. In today’s message, he said, “As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a “grateful contemplation of God’s world” (Laudato Si, 214) which “allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us” (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (ibid., 230-31).”

Today is a good day for each one of us to consider how we can weave this new work of mercy into our individual and corporate lives.

Contemplation can include taking the time to immerse oneself in beautiful natural surroundings and to spend time in the natural world in a way that allows us more easily to see and to feel a sense of the good of creation, including non-human created beings: animals, plants, even the earth itself. If we don’t cultivate a sense of our own personal care and empathic connection to creation, we are not easily motivated to put this care into action. Contemplation can also mean understanding better intellectually what ails the earth and what can help us to treat it better; thus learning more about environmental issues, even the distressing and difficult aspects, can be a form of intellectual contemplation.

As a work of mercy, the care for creation must move from simply enjoying or contemplating nature into concrete and embodied care. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis emphasizes care for the earth that especially takes into account the care for the poor of our world. This can mean working for policy changes that only governments, or other world governing bodies (such as joint agreements among large corporations) can effectively undertake. An act of mercy for our planet can also mean personal choices such as contributing less to climate change through taking public transportation or carpooling, recycling and composting, or choosing to fly less. (When I recently calculated my carbon footprint here at the Nature Conservancy site, I became more aware of how flights to see family and for work are my largest personal contribution to climate change: http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/). This work of mercy especially shows us the interconnection between ourselves as human beings and all of creation.

2 thoughts on “Pope Francis on care for creation as a new work of mercy

  1. This is a very needed addition to the corporal works of Mercy. I, too, have contemplated on the use of airplanes for visiting family. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is less harmful than driving my car there. At home I care for my yard conserving water, trying to grow native plants and plant trees whereever I can to compensate. I think using less electricity also is a contribution for less pollution. This is very important to me because we live in the highest particulate matter in the air. I can now see, feel and taste it.

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