By Sister Mary Heather MacKinnon
As School Sisters of Notre Dame, associates and colleagues, we have made a public commitment to respond to Pope Francis’ call for us to be a Laudato Si’ congregation. This seven-year commitment requires that we support and do our best to carry out the seven international goals proposed by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si’ Action Platform of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Let’s take a special look at the goal, ecological spirituality. What is ecological spirituality and what does this goal ask of us?
First, what is spirituality? There are many, many understandings and expressions of spirituality today. For Christians, spirituality is deeply tied to theology. You cannot have one without the other. One informs the other. In simple terms, theology deals with what we believe and spirituality focuses on how we live out what we believe.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis outlines many things we now believe in light of new understandings in scripture, science, culture, politics and especially in light of global ecological concerns in the world today. Similarly, throughout Laudato Si’, but especially in chapter six, Pope Francis suggests ways we need to live out these beliefs by embracing an ecological spirituality.
Ecological spirituality calls us to live in ways which acknowledge that every creature and every dimension of creation holds its own value in God’s eyes (LS 69). Everything in the universe is inter-related, and this demands that we strive to live in mutual life-giving relationship with all aspects of creation. Our way of living what we believe must be rooted in a “conversion or change of heart” (LS 218). We believe that we are responsible for many global expressions of poverty, injustice and ecological devastation. Hence, our spirituality must show concrete ways that we are working to solve the ravages of today’s climate crises and ecological devastation. Our liturgical and SSND prayer lives need to witness to the splendor and magnificence of God’s creation and help us carry out our responsibilities to work for justice, peace and the integrity for every aspect of creation.
Laudato Si’ is one of the greatest documents ever written. It needs to be read and re-read again and again. Pope Francis gives us a profound and clear vision of not only what we believe, but also a solid path for how we are to live out our beliefs in the world today.