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ARE WE AT HOME IN THE COSMOS? Lessons From St. Francis

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Presentation on theme: "ARE WE AT HOME IN THE COSMOS? Lessons From St. Francis"— Presentation transcript:

1 ARE WE AT HOME IN THE COSMOS? Lessons From St. Francis

2 “You truly exist where you love
Not merely where you live.”

3 “A crisis is a rapidly deteriorating situation that, if left unattended, will lead to disaster in the near future.” Overstressed planet Energy consumption Global warming

4 Driving forces behind environmental damage:
population size and growth institutional arrangements cultural values and belief systems new colonialism global marketing

5 “We are close to committing crimes against creation”

6 Global climactic systems and collapsing global biological diversity pose fundamental threats to the very future of human society. We are on the brink of humanitarian and ecological catastrophes, and the risks they pose are not arrayed equitably. The life of the poor is imperiled disproportionately.

7 WHAT IS GLOBAL WARMING? Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising. Global warming is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence.

8 Evidence of Global Warming
The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles

9 If Global warming continues
Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years to 300,000 people a year. Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide. Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense.

10 Droughts and wildfires will occur more often.
The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050. More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.

11 Sustainability Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Must address issues of social equity and economic development as well as ecological indicators.

12 Problem of sustainability
When resources are consumed faster than they are produced or renewed, the resource is depleted and eventually used up We move into what is termed ecological overshoot.

13 Sustainability includes:
Recognizing: - the reality of limits to growth - the need for noncoercive population control - the seriousness of anthropogenic environmental damage - the desire for developing clean technology

14 “An ecological footprint is a simple tool that
tells us how much nature we have and how much we use. If we divide the planet’s ecological capacity by the number of people, we get about four hectacres per person. Then we compare that area with the area necessary for us to produce food, absorb CO2, etc. When we add this up in the U.S., for example, it adds to approximately 9-10 hectacres of ecological capacity to provide for an average American. Thus if everyone lived like an American, it would take about six planets.”

15 Footprint Reality Today, humanity's Ecological Footprint is over 23% larger than what the planet can regenerate. It now takes more than one year and two months for the Earth to regenerate what we use in a single year. We maintain this overshoot by liquidating the planet's ecological resources.

16 Religious problem? Lynn White, in his controversial article, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” said the source of environmental problems is religious in nature. Christianity, he claims, with its emphasis on human salvation and dominion over nature, made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.

17 Genesis 1:28 and Dominion humans are set apart from earth
anthropocentric all but humans are excluded from grace

18 Ambivalent attitude toward creation: God above, God within.
Pointed toward heaven and thus away from earth. We are “pilgrims and strangers”

19 Sense of sin and guilt has made us “self-focused” and not focused on earth.
Emphasis on “Personal salvation.” Have treated the earth as a stage or background of human story and thus not part of God’s plan for salvation.

20 White argued that no religion had been more anthropocentric than Christianity and none more rigid in excluding all but humans from divine grace and in denying any moral obligation to lower species. Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.

21 Metaphysical Dualism Spiritual world = heaven = primary
Natural world = secondary

22 We will continue to have an ecological crisis until we reject Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence except to serve us.

23 “Since the roots of our trouble are largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious. We must rethink and re-feel our nature and our destiny.” Lynn White

24 Francis of Assisi ( ) “Patron Saint of Ecology” [JP II 1979]

25 The Four “P”illars Penance – turning from self-centeredness to God-centeredness Prayer – encounter with God Poverty – radically dependent Piety - family relatedness


27 Penance/Conversion metanoia ="the shifting of minds“- the way one sees a situation in a new way. conversion is a way of becoming more authentically human—through turning.

28 from self-centeredness towards God-centeredness
Openness to grace. Conversion  Releasement  Letting Be One must be at home with oneself, allowing oneself to be.

29 Prayer Deep dialogue of wills. Through prayer Francis came
to know himself as a humble creature of God. Only through prayer do we recognize that the other is where we encounter God and the truth of ourselves in God. Creation of new being/new world.

30 Contemplation A penetrating gaze that gets to the truth of reality.

31 The Two Gazes Our gazing is often too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this affect me?” or “How does my self image demand that I react to this?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads us to an implosion, a self pre-occupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment.

32 Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended,” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and for the moment. Contemplation is not the avoidance of the problem, but a daily merging with the problem and finding its full resolution.

33 Contemplation is not a method of prayer but a style of life, a way of being in the world.
Attentiveness to things happening in the world – to people’s lives as they unfold. Focus is out of self and toward the other – a ‘being-with’ in compassion. Engagement with other is at same time encounter with God.

34 When we live in awareness of the interconnected nature of reality, then compassion arises spontaneously. Compassion and wisdom are integrally intertwined, each arising from the other. “Wisdom" is an experiential understanding of interconnectedness.

35 Poverty Poverty is rooted in the fact that we (and creation) ultimately do not control our existence. We come from God and belong to God. We are to live sine proprio

36 living in dependence recognizing all is gift receiving and sharing

37 Poverty  personhood  interdependency.
The sister of humility = the earthly limits of our humanity which accepts weakness and strength together as part of the human condition.

38 Through poverty and humility Francis became a brother to all creatures. Everything in creation spoke to him of God.

39 Piety Francis’s feeling for creation was at the
same time a growth in connectedness to creation. All of creation became his family.

40 “I – Thou” Francis realized that the source of his own life was the very source of all created things and all that exists.

41 Evangelical Life is dialogical
Not But I- IT I-Thou

42 Conversion/New Relationship
Growing in union with Christ through the Spirit gave Francis a new relationship to new nature: one in which grace and innocence prevailed, not sin and conflict.

43 “Even for worms he had a warm love, since he had read this text about the Savior: I am a worm and not a man.” That is why he used to pick them up from the road and put them in a safe place so that they would not be crushed by the footsteps of passersby Whenever he found an abundance of flowers, he used to preach to them and invite them to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.” (Thomas of Celano)

44 “That the bees not perish of hunger in the icy winter, he commands that honey and the finest wine should be set out for them. He calls all animals by a fraternal name, although, among all kinds of beasts, he especially loves the meek.”

45 Francis saw himself as part of creation.
His spirituality overturned the spirituality of hierarchical ascent and replaced it with a spirituality of descending solidarity between humanity and creation. He found God in all creatures and identified with them as brother and sister.

46 Sin Sin is the refusal to participate in creation’s web of life. It describes the personal history of one who was created for communion and refuses it. It is the rejection of our identity as part of an interdependent world in which God’s power as creative source expresses itself through shared power of other creatures. Sin is living in the exile of unrelatedness

47 Francis considered nothing in nature accidental or excessive; nothing was worthless or trivial.
Rather, each and every thing, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, showed infinite value because it reflected God in its own unique being.

48 Haecceitas points to individuality at the core of each thing
its very being.

49 The positive dimension of being which makes it “this” and “not-that”

50 “The World is Charged with the grandeur of God.”

51 Canticle of Creatures Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention your name. Praised be You, my lord, with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One. Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air and every kind of weather through which you give sustenance to your creatures. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you light the night and he is beautiful and playful Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs. Blessed are those who endure in peace for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

52 Lessons of St. Francis Right relationships in creation:
- rootedness in God - change in values: - poverty (dispossessiveness) - humility - conversion - compassion

53 Can we recapture a sense of “Cosmic family?”

54 Christian responsibility, especially for the natural world, demands that we think of the earth, and the entire cosmos for that matter, as our home.

55 “Rules of the House” 1) Take only your share Clean up after yourselves
Keep the house in good repair for future occupants. (Sally McFague, Life Abundant, p. 122)

56 Inner World/Outer World
Prayer Time Attentiveness Engagement Awakening of Senses

57 A New Ethics Poverty - interdependency
- to acknowledge our ties with the rest of creation in its dependence upon the creator. Sacramentality of Creation – the entire creation mediates God’s grace and is a reflection of the divine. Companionship Conversion to the earth

58 From: “I – It”  “I – Thou” Homo oeconomicus  Homo oikonomicus
TWO CONVERSIONS From: “I – It”  “I – Thou” Homo oeconomicus  Homo oikonomicus

59 Humanity must rethink its place within creation so that human well-being is integrated within a wider setting, an ecological context. “When the level of our awareness changes, we start attracting a new reality.” Gaston Saint Pierre

60 Points to consider We must realize our interconnectedness to creation. A new consciousness must call us to an active stance as “brother” and “sister” to the non-human creation. Developing a new consciousness also means an awareness of the intrinsic value of everything that exists. “Thisness”

61 Contact with nature needs to be a fundamental component of an ecological way of life. Spend time with nature. Realize that sinful actions are at the root of our present ecological crisis and thus our need for ongoing penance or conversion. “Eco – penance”

62 Believe in the inherent goodness of creation and the dignity of each created thing.
Strive for right and loving relationships. Oppose relationships that exploit the poor or cause environmental hazards to the poor. Attend to biological diversity as an expression of the goodness of God. Recognize the interdependence of the many forms of life on our planet.

63 Discover the “ecological self”

64 “Therefore any person who is not illumined by such great splendor in created things is blind. Anyone who is not awakened by such great outcries is deaf. Anyone who is not led by such effects to give praise to God is mute. Anyone who does not turn to the First Principle as a result of such signs is a fool. Therefore open your eyes; alert your spiritual ears; unlock your lips, and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love, and adore, magnify, and honor your God lest, the entire world rise up against you.” (Bonaventure, Itin. 1.15)

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