Laudato Si, Mi Signore!

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Delivered by Rev. Fr. Edione R. Febrero, JCL., College President
4 August 2015 / EBJ Freedom Park

“LAUDATO SI, MI SIGNORE!”. Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.” . . . Pagdayaw kanimo, Ginoo ko … The first words of the pope’s encyclical are quoted from the canticle of St. Francis of Assisi whose name “Francis” was used by the present pope when he was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The earsplitting cry of the Mother Earth as it is being callously exploited by those whose life she sustains, can no longer be taken for granted. Unlike St. Francis whose life was intimately linked with the created world calling her affectionately “sister” or “mother,” some businessmen who are supposedly “stewards” of God’s creation, detached and indifferent, have become the Earth’s masters, irresponsibly plundering the Earth’s resources for quick and easy profit.

Pope Francis acknowledges that efforts either to stop or to lessen the use of fossils that worsen the effects of climate change and to effectively regulate or stop the extraction of minerals that destroy the environment have not been so effective because of very strong opposition by big companies, and the lack of concern and indifference of many people.

Pope Francis amplifies through his encyclical “Laudato Si” the already clarion call to “PROTECT OUR COMMON HOME.” He underlines further the need to work together in finding wise solutions to our present crisis. Because Pope Francis believes that people have the ability to enter into meaningful dialogue and to work together for the good of our Mother Earth, he is hopeful that people can change their ways and address the present crisis. What we need, however, is to deeply understand that as part of the ECOSYSTEM we are intimately linked with the other components. We humans cannot alienate ourselves from the Earth, which continues to nurse and to nourish us. Like St. Francis, we have to commune with each other as well as with nature so that in our everyday struggle we will not end up hurting each other. This is referred by Pope Francis as “intra-generational solidarity.”

It is only after a deep realization of our interconnectivity or interconnectedness that we can talk about “intergenerational responsibility.” Quoting the Portuguese bishops, Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”. It is our responsibility then as stewards of God’s creation to take care of our environment now by responsibly using its resources so that we can hand on the world to the future generations still worthy of being called a “home.”
But what kind of world do we have now which we still have to give back to the coming generations? Because of the “throwaway culture” of the people of our generation where a lot of things that we use are discarded right away and not recycled, there is so much garbage around us that we do not even know already where to place them. We got used to buying cheap disposable things which we can throw immediately after using instead of investing on renewable resources. The latter of course may cost more but they can be recycled and their use maximized to lessen the filth which becomes much harder to manage. It is in this connection that Pope Francis supports the use of renewable sources of energy and teaches today’s generation not to be dependent on the use of fossil fuels most especially coal. Coal does not only emit so much greenhouse gas which worsens global warming but its extraction through open-pit mining can also seriously damage the biodiversity of the locality and eventually destroy the natural sources of livelihood – such as farming and fishing – of a lot of people in the area.

Why are we involved here as a school community? Why do we publicly display our concern for the protection of our environment? Why do we say no to illegal fishing and mining here in Antique? Pope Francis sees the need of engaging people on the issue of environmental protection while they are still young – at home, in school, in the seminary or houses of formation. Environmental education does not only mean feeding students with so much information about the serious damages that irresponsible human activities have on our climate and environment. It also means engaging themselves in activities that may actually teach them to care for the environment in ways which may seem so simple at first but may eventually have the so-called butterfly effect on the larger world. A simple act of reusing or recycling paper inside the campus may eventually change the ‘throwaway culture’ of the present generation when practice becomes more and more popular to other people. The need to protect the environment and the need to ACT (A for awareness; C for care and concern; and T for teamwork) now is everybody’s business. We just cannot sit and watch environmental plunderers ravage our natural resources with little or no regard at all for the home that we have borrowed from the future generations, and which we still have to return. We cannot allow short-sighted developers to intensively use natural resources for quick and easy profit and even for the so-called development without setting any limit at all to their present needs.

In making a strong stand, however, e.g. “SAC – St. Anthony’s College is Against Coal” or “We say no to mining because in mining there is no tomorrow or in mining we say no to morrow”, we need to have the three L’s: LAWAS (body/presence) LIMOG (voice/convictions/principles) and LIUG (neck/ courage/commitment) if we want our acts to have concrete results. The simple steps we take at home or in school to protect our environment do not and cannot effectively impact immediately and effectively the present condition of our common home which has been desperately crying out for help. But if we generously pool our many different resources and pull ourselves together we may be able to effectively address the present crisis. I would like to end with a positive note as I directly quote Pope Francis: “Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems.”