With St. Francis of Assisi being the Patron Saint of ecology, the Franciscan Order has produced various documents and study guides. We take our inspiration from our founder who saw the gift of God in all creation and all of humanity. One of these Study Guides is entitled The Cry of the Earth and the Cries of the Poor. After reading it and discussing it with my brothers, there were a few key words which stood out for me. It is with these words that I offer this reflection.
Caretakers – We have been entrusted with this very important role. To be a caretaker is not about hoarding power or robbing others of their dignity. Being a caretaker requires us to be people who see caring not as a weakness or a lesson left in Kindergarten but rather as a way of encountering creation and each other. If I look at life with the eyes of a caretaker that means that I have a sense of connection to you, I value you and what you offer and strive to have us both be at our best.
How are we living as caretakers?
Common Home – Yes, this is our common home for me, my sisters and brothers on every continent and all of creation. Why do we fail to see this? We must see that no one part of the earth is only for the powerful and the rich, no, it is for all of us – this is our only home. Our actions make a difference here and abroad. Just ask those across the ocean who recycle our trash.
How do we remind ourselves of our common home in our daily living?
Peace – I pray for each day in at least little ways with my living. I pray that peace may settle in my heart and may radiate peace to those around me and beyond (the ripple effect). Peace leads to the depth of honesty and vulnerability in relationships. The peace I strive for is not a far-off fantasy but rather a part of what is at my core from which my life is directed. This is an area I must purposefully work on more each day.
How are we working for peace in our hearts and in being peacemakers in our world?
Relationships – Are key to being a caretaker and building up and caring for our common home. Relationship seen as us with creation, us with each other and us with God is a common bond which is essential for living well. We all know that relationships are not easy and take effort. Everyone knows that a relationship without effort is a meaningless one. Relationships speak of interconnectedness and the power of potential which is ignited with each other because of this strength.
How are we building relationships with others and creation?
Being Minor (Least) – This is a common line for us as Franciscans for it is key to how we strive to live. We don’t always do well at this ideal but we offer it over and over again as a way to encounter the fullness of God. I know I need to continually work at being minor. I must be aware that in my privileges that do not rise above another, rather I remain grounded and aware. I must bring myself to the place where I can live and serve as a minor brother-caretaker and rejoice in this.
How do we realize the value that each of us carries a sense of “being minor”?
Responsible – This is a key challenge. I am responsible and must make choices to sustain and find ways to extend the work of being a caretaker. Responsibility is not someone else’s duty, it is mine. Being responsible is not about more duties or tasks. It is about how I live with my resources and what I so offer to build community and care for our common home.
How do we view our responsibility as members of the human family?
In Despair – This phrase stood out for me because it connects back to St. Francis and his conversion moments. When the voice from the cross said to him, “my church is in disrepair” he was called into action. Now our sister Mother Earth is calling out, echoing that same voice St. Francis heard, “I am in disrepair, do you hear my cries?” St. Francis took up the cause and repaired the church and then his transformed life lead to a deeper awareness of God present in creation, humanity and the church. We must be open and willing to hear the call. Mother Earth is calling out, do we hear God’s voice?
How do we move beyond despair and disrepair? Will we be encouraging? Will we repair what we can?
One of the lines from the document that jumped out for me was: “Eucharist as inspiration is an act of cosmic love.” Is that not a rich image to wrap your head around? It speaks of how we as humanity and creation are linked. We are woven into each other and are each other’s advocate, support and voice because God is present in all and is rejoicing in all creation. God too is giving thanks for what has been made as very good.
The Eucharist calls me to be an offering, to be present, to see in Christ his gift of all and his gift of love. How do my actions express that Christ is at my very core? I not only receive the Body of Christ I become the Body of Christ. How do my actions give voice to life and sacrifice? How do I offer my all and be inspired again and again by the grains and grapes broken and yet together offered? The offering of bread broken and wine poured are a sign of being minor, of surrender, of strength to rise up and be a caretaker.
The Eucharist, which so many of us have not received during this pandemic, is not simply a gift, it is a challenge to live out and live in the demands of being a caretaker for our sister Mother Earth – our common home. Eucharist is not just about receiving Jesus it is about being Jesus in and for our common home – it is about community.
How do we live as Eucharistic people in all the seasons and trials of our life, not just in the moment of receiving the Eucharist?
Holy Spirit you are the Life which gives life. We pray for your breath to breathe through us and continue to awaken us and inspire us to be responsible, peacemaking caretakers in this time and place. Come Holy Spirit blow through all of creation.