In a reflection marking the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si (Praise be to you) – Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter on the earth, which he calls, “our common home” – Bishop Mark O’Toole, the Bishop of Plymouth, has reminded Catholics, that May is a month when we remember Mary’s important role in creation and is a time, too, for recalling the beauty of that creation.
The Pope, Bishop Mark reminded everyone, links the “care of our common home” with the need to care for “those who are already poor and vulnerable”. “The Pope constantly links these two realities” the Bishop suggested, showing “the need to protect and respect our Common home and the need to respect and protect the dignity and lives of the poor.”
The Bishop highlighted that the letter is filled with “the spirit and vision” of St Francis of Assisi, whose name, Pope Francis adopted when he became Pope.
He reminded everyone that the Pope’s letter is not just a work of Catholic Social teaching, but also “an example of proclaiming our faith anew. It is an important contribution to the work of the New Evangelization. The letter reflects a profound confidence and openness to the world”. Pope Francis “understands that in the modern world, the Church’s message needs a new hearing. It needs a fresh presentation rooted in the concrete realities of our times”, the Bishop suggested, highlighting that “in today’s secular society, in which the idea of God is either rejected or seen as irrelevant, Pope Francis understands that the Gospel and the Church must find new ways to capture people’s imaginations.”
The Bishop invited everyone to “a call to conversion”. “This”, he said, “is a call for all of us to look at the earth and all its creatures with the eyes of Jesus. Because “the earthly Jesus” is also the Creator and Lord of the universe, the world has been transfigured.”
In a striking passage, direct from Laudato Si, the Bishop quoted Pope Francis reminding all of us that, “the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise, because the risen One is mysteriously holding them to Himself and directing them towards the fullness as their end. The very flowers of the field and the birds which His human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with His radiant presence.”
In his own Diocese, the Bishop noted that there were resources available online for the special anniversary week, 16th-24th May. These show what is already happening in schools and parishes, and the Bishop encouraged everyone to engage with these resources and to recite the special 5th anniversary prayer, composed by the Pontifical Council for Integral Development, each day during Laudato Si week.