Praying for Mother Earth
“This contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing, a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since ‘for the believer, to contemplate creation, is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice’” (LS 85).
How Great Thou Art
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!
With faith in the Risen Christ, we hear God in creation
By Christopher J.A. Coutinho
Laudato Si’ Animator, Nairobi, Kenya
Soon after my final year exams at high school, I was blessed with the privilege of going on a hiking trip to climb Mt. Kenya. At 18 years old, this was a very exciting experience for me.
Born and bred in Nairobi, which is only about 140 kilometers south of Mt. Kenya, I had never visited that area before. In high school, I had learned of the magnificence of Africa’s second-highest mountain, with its beautiful diversity of both flora and fauna. The hiking trip was going to offer the experience of all that I had learned about, “for real.”
The biggest thrill for me, however, was going to be my first encounter with snow and glaciers! I had not experienced these phenomena before. The paradoxical idea of snow-capped mountain peaks, a short distance south of the equator, was something that though I believed, or “knew” to be true, I really wanted to experience and see for myself.
In that way, I was similar to the disciples Peter and John, who, upon hearing from Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb and not yet “knowing” of the truth of Scripture, were compelled to see for themselves if Jesus’ body really was missing.
What they were to witness was a paradox – an empty tomb without Jesus’ body, but with his burial cloths neatly intact.
It is this event, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, that is central to our faith.
“Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (John 20:8-9).
It is indeed our conviction in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins, rose again, and sits at the right hand of the Father, creator of Heaven and Earth, that allows us to hear God in creation. Note how Pope Francis is specific that it is “the believer” who contemplates creation.
My final ascent to reach Point Lenana, the third highest peak on Mt. Kenya, at 4,985 meters, began in the very early hours of the morning, while it was still dark. It did not require any technical expertise nor equipment, but it was not an easy climb.
I particularly remember a stretch on a steep scree, laden with loose gravel. Every so often, climbing one step up, was followed by sliding two steps down! Eventually, however, I was rewarded.
Making my first steps on snow and ice, I finally made it to the summit, in time to bask in the morning sunrise. Sitting atop that mountain peak laden in snow, gazing out at the vast expanse of the earth below, there was a majesty about the silence that surrounded me. It was God speaking to me.
Capuchin Franciscan Friars acting on the ‘urge to do more’
Hearing Creation’s Cry
By Fr. Emmanuel Kamrata Ndata, OFM
Capuchin Charities, St. Jude Laudato Si’ Circle
In the outlying suburbs of Nairobi city lies Waruku district, a residential area situated in Kangemi with a population of over 5,000 people. Waruku was established in 1966 by former employees of colonial officials. They were mostly domestic workers and security personnel who had just left service and were on transit home, while others were searching for other jobs.
Some of these initial residents were unable to return to their homes due to the fear of retaliation for their service to the colonial government. They were perceived to have cooperated in oppressing the Indigenous population. Others had been left out of land allocations in their former areas and therefore sought to settle anywhere they could.
Over the years, residents in Waruku experienced severe food shortages and basic needs. In the case of default of rent arrears, several residents face eviction and are forced to stay in the cold at night, covering themselves with polythene paper.
In the wee hours of the morning, they pack up their belongings to avoid detection. The COVID-19 pandemic brought nearly everything to a halt. The vulnerable groups, such as the physically challenged, children in slums, the terminally ill, could not access basic things like food and drinking water.
As Capuchin Franciscan Friars, we wanted to impact lives and make society a better place to live in, especially Waruku being our close neighbors. We felt the urge to do more by saving the lives of the most vulnerable members in society.
Some of the community members suffer from deadly incurable diseases that hinder them from working in order to earn a desirable income. Sadly, their social life is interrupted as well. Every month, we partner with different organizations who donate food, clothing, and other items to assist this community. It has been a fulfilling experience for me as a Franciscan Capuchin.
I urge other well wishers to show empathy to the most vulnerable and the poor in their own communities during this perilous period.
‘Mountains are reminders of God’s majestic creation’
Hearing Creation’s Song
By Zenetta Lyn Jansen
Laudato Si’ Animator, Chapter Leader in South Africa
Table Mountain lies like a plateaued table-top across the city of Cape Town, South Africa. It can be seen from almost every part of that city – an immovable landmass, conspicuous and grand.
It forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, which was recognized in 2012 as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and boasts UNESCO heritage status. The mountain’s rich biodiversity is home to approximately 2,000 different species, including a wide variety of plant species including a variety of fauna and flora.
Mountains are referenced many times in Holy Scripture as places of solitude and or where encounters with God take place. In Exodus 24:12-18, “Moses went up the mountain… Mount Sinai,” where he had an encounter with the Lord for 40 days and nights. He came down from the mountain from that encounter with the tablets inscribed with the 10 Commandments.
Jesus often went away by himself to quiet places or a mountain to pray and be with God. In Luke 9:28, Jesus was transfigured on a mountain where he took with him three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, to pray.
Silent and awe rendering, mountains are reminders of God’s majestic creation.
Interaction with creation is recreation for my soul
Ecological conversion story
By Steeven Kezamutima
Laudato Si’ Movement Programs Coordinator, Francophone Africa
Keeping in mind and heart that nature is part of our life, building relationships with creation is the best tradition for all generations.
Mother Earth asks me and my heart accuses me: Where do I close my eyes and ears in the moment we need to see, judge, and act?
Deep down in my village, I grew up seeing mountains covered by various species of trees, and fertile lands covered by green crops. But one day we faced war, and I ran away with my siblings and parents looking for refuge in the forest.
The criminals knew that people would always look to hide in bush and forest, so they made sure all forests were cut down and burnt prior to the starting of killings.
When we were looking around where to hide, we saw all wild animals helplessly running all over looking for refuge.
From that day I realized that creation suffers in the same way as human beings. Maybe our voices are louder at the same level when we are crying. I realized that we are all connected, human beings, nature, peace, environment, and security, and from there I received the motivation I needed to undergo my ecological conversion.
This moment of Lent, I always question myself: How many times do I interact with creation? How many times do I invest in creation? And how many times did I confess to harming my beloved Mother Earth?
In my daily life, I always admire the presence of Jesus Christ in creation. My time in touching green life has transformed me for a clean life.
Under trees has been my place of meditation, peace, and reconciliation. Growing trees, I reconnect with my Creator and my fellow sisters and brothers, and praying from creation has become a tradition to create a home of peace and comfort.
And whenever under a tree, I reconnect with the combined pain and love of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself and accepted to be crucified for our sins.
When the soldiers pierced Jesus Christ on his side (John 19:34), blood and water came out for the salvation of humanity, and I refer this to as the fruits that fall from trees to feed millions of lives.
Can you join me in fasting, and investing in tree growing? Can you join me in praying for peace in people’s hearts and minds? Can you join me in giving hope to the generations to come? Here we go.
Saint and Doctor of the Church Catherine of Siena
Feast Day: April 29
By Patrick Laorden
Laudato Si’ Movement Theological Consultant
St. Catherine of Siena is a Doctor of the Church and was a Lay Dominican. Youngest of 25 children, she consecrated her virginity to Christ at a young age. She was considered a mystic for her visions and experiences. She also was known for her asceticism.
She experienced a spiritual espousal to Christ in her 20s, called to serve the sick and poor. As she went about her ministry, she attracted a growing number of disciples. Her apostolate grew out of her contemplative life.
Though illiterate, she dictated many letters, which consisted of spiritual instruction and encouragement for her followers. St. Catherine also advocated for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between the Pope and Florence.
It’s hard to characterize St. Catherine’s spirituality, since it is not very systematic. However, much can be gleaned from her writings based on themes she explored. One key theme found in her writings is knowledge being the first step towards love. St. Catherine writes in “The Dialogue”: “This she does because knowledge must precede love, and only when she has attained love, can she strive to follow and to clothe herself with the truth.”
To know ourselves, is to see ourselves in relationship with God. In knowing ourselves through God, we encounter the deep love from which we draw to give to the world. Pope Francis speaks of love in Laudato Si’:
“Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (LS 231).
Knowledge draws us to deepen our relationship with God. God, the essence of love, is the love that we are called to give to the world. This calls us to participate in society, to encounter God in the midst of our sisters and brothers. Expressing love through small gestures in the life of society for the betterment of others is to follow in the footsteps of St. Catherine.
Animating the community: Become a Laudato Si’ Animator and lead your community
Laudato Si’ Circles
Being a certified Laudato Si’ Animator and a Laudato Si’ Circle Leader, Peter Kimeu has promised to enroll at least 100 new Laudato Si’ Animators to undertake the Laudato Si’ Animator training this spring. So far, he has enrolled 41 and continues to lead a recruitment drive to meet his target.
Through the Laudato Si’ Circle he leads, Kimeu has now embarked on a nature restoration and a livelihood restoration project in his community. He works with his parish to secure fruit seedlings and disburses them to the local farmers for planting.
He also has opened up a local training center for his community to learn of improved ways to utilize their farms to maximize on yields, hence reducing the poverty gaps within the community.